Redwood City staff say the city’s minimum wage of just $10/hour can’t be raised for another 15 months, even after an outpouring of public support and strong statements from the City Council on Tuesday, September 25. Redwood City is likely to remain with the lowest minimum wage in California until January 2019 if the staff recommendation is followed.
“You have the opportunity to improve the quality of life for thousands of workers,” said San Mateo Central Labor Council Executive Officer Julie Rupp, who reported that 47,000 workers in San Mateo County and about 5,000 in Redwood City currently toil for less than $15/hour.
“We need to address housing, we need to address wages,” said City Council member Shelly Masur, who suggested that the minimum wage be raised by July 2018. “We need to do what we can to raise the boat for everybody.”
“I strongly support this,” said City Council member Ian Bain of raising the city’s poverty minimum wage to $15/hour. “It puts money directly into the pockets of workers.”
“It’s a no-brainer,” said City Council member Alicia Aguirre, who proposed raising it to $20/hour instead, given the outrageous cost of living in the area.
But the city’s staff pushed back, hoping to delay the wage hike. Assistant City Manager Alex Khojikian insisted that a 15-month public outreach process is needed before any local minimum wage increase takes effect. Public input will be gathered from October to December, with a City Council review in February 2018. Another ten months of public outreach would follow, with wages not raised until January 1, 2019.
“We don’t need so much time for public outreach,” said Masur. “This issue isn’t new.”
Khojikian reported that Redwood City itself pays 226 employees less than $15/hour, and that raising their wages to $15/hour would cost a modest $122,000 per year.
Emeryville increased its minimum wage to $15/hour on July 1, with an exception for businesses with 55 or fewer employees which must pay at least $14/hour. Mountain View and Sunnyvale both require $13/hour now, and will reach $15/hour on January 1, 2018, followed by San Francisco on July 1, 2018, and Berkeley on October 1, 2018. El Cerrito, Cupertino, Los Altos, Milpitas, Palo Alto, San Jose, San Mateo, and Santa Clara will all require $15/hour on January 1, 2019.