By Councilmember Libby Schaaf

From President Obama to your server at McDonalds, many believe it’s time to increase the minimum wage for hourly workers (it’s currently just $7.25). A federal proposal could raise it to $10.10, but many believe higher-cost cities like Oakland need a higher wage requirement. Also, as the federal effort is stalled in partisan gridlock, many are looking to America’s cities as the better place to start change.

California already has its own higher minimum wage, which goes up to $9 this July and to $10 in 2016. And higher cost-of-living cities like San Francisco and San Jose have their own higher wage laws as well: $10.74 and $10.15 respectively. Both adjust with inflation.

Is it time for Oakland to join them?

Last week, as a member of the Council’s Community & Economic Development Committee, I heard a proposal from Vice Mayor Reid to raise Oakland’s minimum wage to $10.20 starting this July, but with no future adjustments for inflation. Meanwhile, the Lift Up Oakland campaign is seeking an increase to $12.25 starting in March 2015, with future adjustments for inflation, as well as requiring paid sick leave and requiring that gratuity charges go to the people who provide the service. Full disclosure: I’ve endorsed the Lift Up campaign. To learn more, please visit

Other city-specific minimum wages are being considered in San Francisco ($15 by 2016), Berkeley ($13.34 by this July) and Richmond ($12.30 by 2017). Even Oakland’s Chamber of Commerce has agreed “a sustainable approach to economic development could include a higher minimum wage.” But they, along with Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, are urging a uniform approach for East Bay cities.

How would a higher minimum wage affect Oakland’s economy and growth?

When San Francisco increased its minimum wage to the highest in the county, many feared it would reduce jobs and hurt the local economy. But a recent study by three UC Berkeley scholars concludes it didn’t:

“From 2004 to 2011 overall private employment grew 5.6 percent in San Francisco and 3 percent in Santa Clara County. Other Bay Area counties saw an overall 4.4 percent drop during that time. Among food-service workers, who are more likely to be affected by minimum-wage laws, employment grew 17.7 percent in San Francisco, faster than either of the other Bay Area counties.”

What do you think?

What type of minimum wage laws do you think Oakland should have? Please take my quick survey about raising the minimum wage and related proposals!

Let’s continue to grow Oakland’s vibrant economy for a sustainable, equitable and prosperous future.

With Oakland-love,


P.S., Please take my quick Oakland Minimum Wage Survey. What type of minimum wage laws make sense for Oakland? The survey is here.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland.
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3 Responses

  1. r2d2ii

    Anyone who has to ask this question is not fit for public office anywhere except in Oakland.

  2. JR

    Hopefully whatever is agreed upon is talked about with local business leaders and the community, and not just the usual city council move of bowing down to a few out of town nutcases with bandanas around their face screaming and chanting.

    Some questions that might need to be looked at:

    Do Oaklanders even benefit from this higher wage or is it going to be people from out of town working in Oakland?

    What effect is it going to have on business?

    The link to the NYT article from Len’s comment would be an interesting read for our council members.


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