Nearly 48,000 workers in Oakland got a raise today. No, this wasn’t a gift by altruistic corporate CEOs (now there’s an oxymoron). Today’s raise is courtesy of Measure FF, which voters passed in November due to the strong support of Bay Area labor unions and community groups. And not only do workers get a bump in pay to $12.25 an hour beginning today, the measure also provides for paid sick days, which will impact more than 56,000 workers in Oakland. The minimum wage is indexed to inflation, ensuring it will rise as the cost of living does.
Oakland is the latest in a growing number of Bay Area cities seeing a jump in its minimum wage, with that base wage rising on Monday from the statewide minimum of $9 an hour to $12.25 — a 36 percent increase.
On Friday, fast-food industry workers and minimum wage advocates gathered outside Oakland’s City Hall to celebrate the wage increase.
23-year-old Oakland resident Christopher Higgenbotham has worked as a cashier at McDonald’s for six years, where he was making $9.75 an hour.
“So many people are going to be affected by this and so many people need it to live in this city,” says Higgenbotham. “We need to keep it as diverse as we can and that’s going to happen now through Measure FF.”
Higgenbotham says he plans to use the boost in his income to save up money for a home.
Last year the UC Berkeley Labor Center released an impact study and predicted the following benefits for working families in Oakland if Measure FF were to pass:
- Workers’ hourly wages and annual incomes would rise, resulting in increased annual earnings of $120 million per year.
- Hourly wages of affected workers would rise by an average of $1.69/hour.
- Average annual earnings would increase by about $2,700 per year.
- Adults and workers of color would see significant benefits of a pay increase.
- 96.5 percent of affected workers are in their twenties or older, and over half of the workers receiving raises are in their thirties or older.
- Workers of color (Black, Hispanic, and Asian) make up about 62.1 percent of the total workforce in Oakland, but they represent about 78.7 percent of workers affected by a minimum wage increase to $12.25.
- About 43.0 percent of the affected workers are Hispanic/Latino.
Laws like Oakland’s not only help combat income inequality, they change lives. They make the American Dream more possible. As is the case with the passage of almost every law that lifts up workers, unions were the driving force behind Measure FF. Congratulations to all who worked so hard to achieve this monumental victory!
Learn more at the City of Oakland's website.
Photo: Lift Up Oakland