Richmond City Council approves minimum wage hike

(File photo by: Tawanda Kanhema)

(File photo by: Tawanda Kanhema)

Richmond is headed for a new record: the highest minimum wage in the Bay Area. The plan is for a minimum wage of $12.30 per hour to be phased in over the next four years. The City Council voted 6-1 to pass the first reading of the ordinance with Councilmember Tom Butt voting no.

Three different proposals for a minimum wage increase were on the agenda at the Tuesday meeting, including raises to $11 and $15 per hour.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, and the state rate is $8. The state hourly wage is set to increase to $9 in July and $10 in 2016. San Francisco’s minimum wage jumped to $10.74 on New Year’s Day, making it the highest in the region. San Jose follows at $10.15.

If the second reading of the ordinance passes next month, the first wage hike to $9.60 per hour will go into effect January 2015, with successive jumps to $11.52 in 2016 and $12.30 in 2017.

Responding to pushback from local business, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said this gradual phase-in gives business owners time to adjust.

“Those businesses we want to come are businesses that value paying a decent wage,” said McLaughlin. She then quoted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous statement from 1938: “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.’”

The council had questions about the ordinance and asked the City Attorney to make some changes; they asked him to include an exemption for the summer youth jobs program. A plan to exempt new businesses was scrapped after concerns about fairness.

Around two-dozen speakers signed up to comment on the hike. Many in attendance held up yellow printed signs saying, “Raise minimum wage.”

“They could have given us $15 easily,”said Pam Davis with OUR (Organization United for Respect) Wal-Mart. The group is made up of current and former Wal-Mart employees who are working to try and convince the retail giant to provide more full-time jobs with fair wages so that workers can support their families.

“It’s a win, but we are going to keep fighting for more. The way it is now, a single person will still be in poverty for a couple more years,” Davis said.

Wal-Mart did not send a representative to the meeting. In the national fight over President Barack Obama’s proposed minimum wage increase, Wal-Mart has said it is remaining “neutral.”

Galaxy Desserts CEO Paul Levitan said a $15 minimum wage could force him to consider relocating elsewhere when he’s ready to expand his company, which employs over 200 people.

Councilmember Butt said that there should have been more consultation with the business community in Richmond, and that he disagreed with the council’s decision to take the wage hike off the November ballot.

Ballot measures are very difficult to cancel out, said Councilmember Jim Rogers, and he said that the ordinance gives the council greater flexibility to respond to issues that might show-up as the rollout of the wage increase moves forward.

“There’s the opportunity, if there are unintended consequences, we can take a look at it and change it,” Rogers said.

 

 

21 Comments

  1. Jimmy wu

    Our understanding is the city is in a crisis , so why raise the min. Wage now ? The voters should decide this , not a few political hacks looking for national headlines. I’m sure business leaders will be successful gathering signatures to put this on the ballot anyway to right size the wages , this action clearly was made by those not in business . There is not 8,000 min wage jobs in Richmond , they travel outside the city and live in Richmond because of affordable housing. Another stupid move , what’s next , how about a park tax for out of town visitors ?..

    • What the hell do you mean “they”, Richmondites work all over Richmond, and the surrounding job centers in Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland. And many people live elsewhere and work in Richmond, mostly at the refinery poisoning us.

  2. Jimmy wu

    Heard from a source in the RPA , the mayor wanted this action, to try and cover up the failure of her administration in the housing authority scandal . Now she can run on raising the min wage and , moving people out of public housing into better housing or hotels . Question , why not approved the Chevron project and bring more jobs to our city and run on increasing the city tax base .

    • JS

      Clearly not true. The City Council publicly heard the minimum wage issue on Jan 14. About a month before the first article by the Center for Investigative Reporting published their first piece on this.

      Equally, some Jimmy Wu from nowhere or his “source in the RPA” sounds pretty sketchy. But, if it doesn’t, I heard from a source in the RPA that Jimmy Wu is an internet troll and that he should get out of the basement and get some vitamin D ;)

  3. tony

    Clearly the citizen of the city of Richmond need to have their voices heard by voting on a minimum wage scale in the next election. Clearly councilman Butt was correct , we need to look at restaurants for a tip balancing , just as one example . All restaurants in Richmond pay minimum wage , and the tips brought home makes the take home pay higher. Solute in a public meeting stated with tip balancing the average waiter makes $ 15 a hour. Most restaurants do make the huge profits of Solute , many others just get by . Richmond needs to think about how many restaurants will close because of this action , the results a raise in minimum wage will results in some to close. The mayor is clearly is acting like a leader of a communist country , This is what happens when a mayor can be elected by 40% of the votes. The city needs new development , like Chevron , housing , warehousing , commercial , Port , extra , extra … why not put people to work by building up our city , the result would be a natural rise in wages , look at San Francisco , which is booming therefor wages rise , because they offered Tax breaks to bring new business , the results major development , engineers starting at $ 150,000 a year , the results serves workers now make more money . Question , what developments were built under this Mayor and city staff watch in the last 6 years ? We need to clean house in this election year , and fire the city manager .

    • San Francisco has also raised it’s minimum wage wtf are you talking about? Also S.F. has not created jobs, it has deported all it’s poor people through massive gentrification. Doing so in Richmond will force everyone to move to Stockton or Sacramento! But let’s be realistic that won’t happen here this town is a toxic shithole trying to cleanup

  4. Jimmy wu

    Js , if you had an ear in the RPA meeting then you know the outcome , true the minimum wag was heard by the city council on jan 14 , our comments were concerning the fact that the RPA didn’t want the minimum wage issue to be a ballot measure and a campaign issue well funded to defeat it , but to run on the fact the RPA passed it , and the concerns about how bad the mayor looks with housing authority scandal .

  5. tony

    So , what major developments have happened in the last six years ? What are the accomplishments ? I heard about the progressive mayor , but how is the city better off today then six years ago ? what is the RPA ? Thought it stood for redevelopment program administration , what redevelopment have they done ?

    • The city has zero debt, new trails, new gardens, a free shuttle bus service, a redeveloped MacDonald 80 shopping center, a functioning craneway convention center, priority for the next ferry terminal, we turned down a massive coal fired power plant in favor of creating #SolarRichmond to create clean power, and jobs in Richmond while also blocking a megaincinerator from contaminating us further, we also bidded for and where selected for the site for a new national lab, and also the state DNA lab, we also saw the opening of the Richmond swimming center and the earthquake proofing of the Richmond municipal natatorium, we got more support for doctor’s medical center, a new county clinic, a new parking garage at the BART station to allow further expansion of the Richmond transit village, we’ve had more police hired, new equipment and machinery and modernization of the police department and fire department, the blocking of a crime magnet supercasino, expansion of wildcat canyon regional park into sobrante ridge, a series of farmer’s markets, constant advocacy on behalf of the community’s interest and repaving and landscaping of our major roads and new overpasses, tunnel reinforcement, youth jobs programs, youth centers… You know just those few things off the top of my head, not expanding the pollution factory that sent 15,000 Richmondites to the hospital with bleechy eyes and lungs, including that of children and who knows what in the fallout we call home, someone who victimizes a viciously callous company that could easily afford the $175 per child man woman and abuelita of richmond to make it 0E they just don’t want to spend 0.0037% of their nearly 5 BILLION in profits to clean up their act and stop pollutin dem babies, para dejar de contaminar nuestros niños, even though they have a dilapidated antiquated accident in progress and they want to expand this mess, i say clean up your fucking 95 superfund sites in Richmond, fix all the broken pipes, stop putting your slaves that you don’t allow to criticize the company or report chronic dilapidated conditions, i say stop ignoring the leaks, stop making my mom smell your secret leaks, stop having the kids learn to be scared of a toxic cloud, sulphur trioxide spills are not a family value, appallingly high cancer rates have everything to do with heavy industry if you have any education, you’re refinery is old and crusty it’s time to modernize it by making it safe, up to code, and zero emissions… Expanding pollution as you’re trying to swindle us with propaganda into suggesting thus could be good for our lungs is as dirty of a lie as your conscience and dated falling apart pollution factory, please repent and find Jesus and stop contaminating us and instead commit to continuous quality improvement, zero emissions and cleanup means we won’t ever be able to blame you for anything ever again don’t you want that #Chevron?

      • Tony Suggs

        Sir before you start making wild claims, you should do a little research.

        “Desperate to cover a $40 million shortfall in its pension fund for retired police officers and firefighters, the city of Richmond, Calif., turned to an exotic loan.

        But instead of tightening spending after it issued the $36 million pension obligation bond in 1999, city leaders turned around and increased the retirees’ pensions.

        Today, Richmond still owes more than $12 million on the bond, plus about $5 million in interest, and its pension fund remains roughly $12.5 million short. To narrow that gap and cover the debt, the city is dipping into proceeds from a supplemental property tax on residents and businesses.”

        That is just for 2 of the pensions. That doesn’t include infrastructure and other needed repairs.

  6. Jimmy wu

    Tony , no major development in six years , just millions spent in studies , it pays have one of three jobs , first to be lobbist Eric Zell being paid rumored to be $15,000 a month to flood a public meeting from one client , to be a lawyer , to be a city employee , one of the 700 chosen few which makes a fortune . The RPA stand for Richmind progressive alliance , however beside suing Chevron , running a sugar tax , and passing a minimum wage without a staff report , they scored a zero for anything improving our city , unless community gardens counts.

  7. tony

    understand , nothing progressive to improve Richmond , what was the dumb idea on eminent domain ? who thought of it and why ?

    • It’s to keep long time legacy residents in their childhood family homes so they don’t end up on the street after a foreclosure or in rat infested shitholes line hacienda projects, it’s to protect people not orgyrich wall street prospectors so they don’t gentrify Richmond after all the progress we’ve had

  8. Jimmy wu

    Eminent domain idea was brought to the city by the city manager , whom was supporting private interprise trying to profit by the city using this power . The mayor love the program , results the city lost money trying to refinance it’s bonds because nobody would buy them.

  9. tony

    got it , are you sure a lobbyist would be paid $ 15,000 per month in a small town ? who would pay that and why ? If nothing happens in this city , why would anyone pay that kind of money in a dead city ??
    I watched the city meeting the other night , what a circus , how does anything get done ? who profits from this , because you know someone is or it wouldn’t be this crazy

    • this town is a circus, were all characters here probably all slightly retarded from fallout from the refinery and also the general chemical company’s poison chlorine cloud and other Chevron spills and flares and nastyness

  10. Jimmy wu

    No comment !

  11. Inspiring quest there. What occurred after? Take
    care!

  12. Melissabrittany

    I think they did the right decision by not increasing the wage rate as per legislation. Every company has its own dynamics and costs associated with its business. It cannot incorporate dictations as to how much should they pay the employees. And Wal-Mart is paying a good enough wage rate per hour.

    • Tony Suggs

      Did you read the article? The City Council DID raise the wages by their own legislation. No voter approval needed.

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