At last Tuesday's Berkeley City Council meeting, our movement was betrayed and the Council dealt a major blow to the minimum wage movement.
At Raise the Wage East Bay we’re angry and ready to fight back!
But first, for those of you who were not there, we wish to provide the following brief report of the council meeting:
At its May 6 meeting, the Berkeley City Council betrayed the low-wage workers, progressives and economic justice advocates who have been working for over a year to pass a Minimum Wage Ordinance for Berkeley. After repeated promises over a 2 month period to support raising Berkeley’s minimum wage to at least $13.34, at the last moment Council Member Laurie Capitelli reneged and led the charge to derail the whole effort.
At a certain point in the meeting, it seemed as though we might still win, with Mayor Tom Bates signaling that he would vote for the compromise measure we had worked out to raise the minimum wage to $15.02 by the year 2020 and thereafter index it to inflation. If we could have kept the mayor's support, we still would have had the 5 votes we needed to win.
But then, Council Member Linda Maio spoke in opposition, turning the tide and lending support to the absurd argument by the Chamber of Commerce that they had not yet had enough time to contribute to the debate. The shameful truth was that the Chamber had stonewalled the process since the beginning, barring the chair of the Labor Commission's Subcommittee on the Minimum Wage from attending their meetings, discouraging its members from meeting with City Council Members who wanted to talk with them about their business problems and never once making any other proposal or suggestion for action other than "No." To us, it looks like the Chamber never intended to make a proposal of their own because their primary goal was to stall and sabotage. And they got exactly what they wanted.
Mayor Tom Bates then switched sides and led a confused stampede in which the Council, on an 8-1 vote, adopted a minuscule increase in Berkeley's minimum wage that is barely 75 cents better than state law already requires. The measure they passed has no provisions for health insurance, paid sick days or even adjustments for inflation.
This cannot stand. The Council will meet again on Tuesday May 20 at 7 PM for a second reading of this extremely weak ordinance. Please show up. Please contact your City Council and Mayor to demand a living wage now. The Council meets at the Old City Hall building, 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Mayor Bates' phone number is: 510-981-7100.
Even better: get involved in building this movement. Our coalition is meeting this coming Thursday May 15 at 6:30 PM in room 51 at Berkeley City College, 2050 Center Street.
Join us. Fight back!
Nicky Gonzalez Yuen