The mayors of San Francisco and Oakland teamed up this week to push for a higher minimum wage for California.
The goal is to raise wages to $11 an hour by 2017 and to $15 by 2021. The rate would increase by one dollar each year — just as this year’s $9 minimum wage in California is set to increase to $10 in 2016.
“As California grows and thrives, we must make sure the prosperity is shared by everyone,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “A gradual, uniform wage increase for the lowest-paid workers across our state is fiscally and morally responsible.”
“We’ve proven that raising the minimum wage is good for small business, good for our economy, and good for our people,” said S.F. Mayor Ed Lee. “Now it’s time to ensure that all Californians with full-time jobs earn enough to survive in today’s economy.”
The mayors appeared together at a local business to support the initiative that should appear on the November 8, 2016 ballot. The Sacramento Bee reports the union-driven campaign has collected nearly all the 366,000 signatures necessary to qualify.
In a recent survey, the Public Policy Institute of California found that 92 percent of Californians believe poverty is a large problem calling for more government intervention.
“I think that there’s angst out there,” Mark Baldassare, president and survey director at PPIC, told the Sacramento Bee. “There is very broad awareness in California today that poverty and inequality are big problems facing our state, and it’s an issue both Democrats and Republicans are thinking about.”
The joint push from San Francisco and Oakland comes alongside a similar eight-city push for fairer wages across the Bay Area that bubbled up last month.
Despite strong support from government leaders and residents throughout California, the initiative doesn’t come without some criticism. Earlier this year when Los Angeles seemed poised to see the next big hike in minimum wage among major U.S. cities, critics expressed concerns for small business owners. The push for a year-by-year incremental increase, however, could ease such worries.
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.