During the "State of the City" address, Emeryville Mayor Ruth Atkin stated that the city would draft an ordinance proposal to increase the minimum wage to the current living wage of $14.03, effective July 1, 2015, as well as add 72 hours of paid sick leave for all employees working more than two hours within the city limits. In response, the California Restaurant Association (CRA) testified at that hearing and submitted a letter to the council outlining our concerns of a 60 percent wage increase and a high level of paid sick leave within such a short amount of time.
Over the next month, the CRA worked with city staff to draft revised ordinances, which included a phased-in approach, a training wage aspect, and a total compensation model. During the February 17, 2015 hearing, city staff included these aspects in a staff report; of which Council decided to take into consideration during an additional study session hearing on April 7.
Throughout the month of March 2015, many small business owners in the region came together to create a coalition asking for a regional minimum wage approach of $12.25, along with a phased-in model, a January effective date, a training wage, and a small business definition of 50 or less employees to align with the Federal Health Care Act. The April 7th, 2015 study session saw a large outpouring of testimony from local small businesses, mainly restaurant operators, who joined the effort to persuade the council to amend the ordinance proposal.
In the end, the council put forth several amendments to the proposal that included a two-pronged approach: one for small businesses and another for large businesses.
• A “small business” is defined as an employer who has fewer than 55 employees, who work a minimum of two hours a week within the city limits during a calendar year. Each employee of a small business would be allowed to accrue 48 hours of paid sick leave per year. Additionally, a small business would face a minimum wage rate of $12.25 effective July 1, 2015. This rate would adjust annually on July 1st to $13.00 in 2016, $14.00 in 2017, and $15.00 in 2018. Beginning July 1, 2019, small businesses would be subject to match the current Consumer Price Index (CPI).
• A “large business” is defined as an employer who has 55 or greater employees, who work at least two hours a week within the city limits during a calendar year. Each employee within a large business would be allowed to accrue 72 hours of paid sick leave per year. Large businesses would start at a minimum wage rate of $14.42 on July 1, 2015, and would increase every year thereafter on July 1st based on the current CPI.
The first reading of this proposed ordinance occurred on May 5, 2015, where the council unanimously approved the measure 5-0. The second reading and final vote on this measure will be on May 19, 2015. The CRA will continue to work to lower what appears to be the inevitable wage increase, phase it in over a longer period of time, provide a teen/training wage, and acknowledge an employees’ total compensation.
This is by far one of the most aggressive wage hikes in the nation and comes with little acceptance of the negative economic facts that have followed the implementation of other “super minimum wages” in the Bay Area.