Raising the minimum wage is a major issue in Oakland and the East Bay in 2014, and figured prominently in the 2014 Election. A measure to establish citywide minimum wage in Oakland was on the ballot in November 2014 (Measure FF, described below). An alternative measure proposed by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce was voted down by the city council this summer. At last count, the Registrar of Voters had the measure passing with 81% of the votes.

Measure FF | After the Ordinance PassedLift Up Oakland | Oakland Sustainable and Fair Compensation Act of 2014 | Councilmembers' Positions |

Mayoral candidate positions | Local Business Positions | Other Community Positions | Groups Endorsing |  Background | 1998 Living Wage Ordinance | Links and References

Measure FF

Measure FF is an Oakland city ballot initiative that was on the ballot on Nov. 4, 2014. The measure passed in a landslide.

Information bulletin on the changes that will take go into effect on January 1, 2016. 

The main elements of the measure are:

  • Increase minimum wage in Oakland to $12.25
  • "require employers to offer at least five days of sick leave to all employees, with larger businesses required to provide nine days"
  • "rovisions designed to allow hospitality workers to keep all of their wages and tips."

Learn more on Ballotpedia (which is also the source for the above quotes)

Here is the full text of the measure.

After the Ordinance Passed

After the ordinance passed, different businesses responded in different ways.

  • Sal Bednarz, owner of Actual Cafe and Victory Burger, wrote a piece in Oakland Local. He says every restaurant owner he has spoken to say they will have to raise prices.
    • He says restaurant owners are worried "that their customers will desert them when they do, either going out to eat in adjoining cities that haven’t adopted a higher minimum wage, or by eating out significantly less."
    • Some business owners are still (Feb, 2015) figuring out the nuts and bolts of the wage increase.
    • Many workers don't understand the wage increase. 
    • Many customers don't understand the wage is increasing.
  • Some restaurants, like Homestead, are taking a different approach. They are increasing prices 20% and no longer accepting tips.
  • Information from OaklandGrown

Lift Up Oakland

In March, 2014, a committee, "Lift Up Oakland for better wages, healthy families and a healthy economy sponsored by labor and community organizations" filed a 410 to get a measure on the ballot that would establish a minimum wage, require pay for accrued sick leave, and require payment for service charges to hospitality workers. The measure obtained enough signatures to be put on the ballot, and will be decided in the November 2014 election as Measure FFhttp://www.liftupoakland.org/

document (81).pdf

The State Election Code requires that the City Council either pass the measure or approve it being placed on the ballot. At the City Council meeting on July 15th, 2014, the council voted with 8 Ayes to do so.

Here's a 30 second tv spot created by Lift Up Oakland:

Oakland Sustainable and Fair Compensation Act of 2014

UPDATE: On July 29, 2014, the City Council voted 5-3 against the ordinance. Kernighan, McElhaney and Reid were the supporters. Storify of the meeting here.

minimum wage march downtown, 3/27/2014
photo CC SA-BY Our Oakland
The Oakland Chamber of Commerce, in response to Lift Up Oakland's measure, has proposed an alternative ballot measure which would increase the minimum wage more gradually than Lift Up Oakland's measure for all workers, and especially gradually for employees of small businesses and nonprofit organizations.8 The plan includes a requirement for paid sick leave. Council President Kernighan introduced a resolution for the City Council to either place this competing measure on the November 2014 ballot, or pass it directly and immediately as an ordinance. Read her memo about it here. At the July 22, 2014 Community and Economic Development Committee meeting, the Committee voted to approve the Chamber's minimum wage measure as an ordinance. If it gets approved by the city council, then it would become law immediately, without going to voters as a ballot measure. It will be discussed by the full city council at their July 29nd, 2014 meeting.

Overview of the Oakland Sustainable Fair Compensation Act of 2014.pdf.pdf

City Council Members' Positions

  • Libby Schaaf: Supports $12.25 (Lift up Oakland). Said "$12.25 min wage ASAP NO EXCEPTIONS" & "Chamber/Kernighan proposal weak & confusing. Bad for #oakland" on Twitter on July 13.

  • Larry Reid: Sponsored a $10.20 law- thinks $12.25 is too much, too soon.

  • Dan Kalb: Supports $12.25 (Lift Up Oakland) ballot measure. Said adding a 2nd alternative ballot measure is a bad idea because it could be confusing to voters and might increase the risk that no measure would get passed at all.

  • Pat Kernighan: Introduced the Oakland Chamber of Commerce's measure for a gradual increase in the minimum wage. Has expressed concern that a significantly higher minimum wage would hurt mom and pop businesses, especially restaurants. (comments at April 29 Community and Economic Development committee meeting).

  • Lynette Gibson McElhaney: Has expressed concern that a higher minimum wage would displace businesses (and the jobs associated with them) to nearby cities if Oakland has a higher minimum wage than other communities. At July 8, 2014 CEDA Committee meeting, her comments suggested that she is likely to support the competing minimum wage ballot measure proposed by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce and introduced by Kernighan.

  • Noel Gallo: Has supported Lift Up Oakland ballot measure. Unclear what his position is on introducing the competing ballot measure proposed by Council President Kernighan and the Oakland Chamber of Commerce.

  • Rebecca Kaplan: Listed as supporter by Lift Up Oakland. Unclear what her position is on introducing the competing ballot measure proposed by Council President Kernighan and the Oakland Chamber of Commerce.

  • Desley Brooks: Listed as supporter by Lift Up Oakland. Stated she's a supporter at City Council Meeting, 7/15/14.


Mayoral candidate positions


Local Business Positions (and sources)

Other Community Positions

The Lift Up Oakland coalition (the folks who got the measure on the ballot) consists of:

Groups Endorsing


  • National Women's Political Caucus (source)


$12.25 Minimum Wage is a policy proposal raised in 2014: "Raise the minimum wage in Oakland to $12.25 per hour"

This was included as a sample proposal for residents to indicate their support or opposition in a Feb. 5, 2014 poll that was sent out to Oaklanders.

As of July, 2014, the minimum wage in California is $9 per hour. It is scheduled to go to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016. 2 A bill passed the state senate in May, 2014, that would raise the state minimum to $13 per hour by 2017. 7 For one adult with no children living in Oakland, the living wage is estimated to be between $11.51 3 and $13.75 4 depending on health coverage provided.

The Oakland City Council is going to consider a minimum wage increase at the July 29th City Council meeting. The proposed increase was crafted by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce introduced by Council President as an alternative to the ballot initiative which is appearing on the November 2014 ballot. The ballot initiative, crafted by a coalition called Lift Up Oakland, would raise Oakland's minimum wage to $12.25 in March of 2015, with no phase-in and no exceptions. The proposed ordinance from Kernighan and the Chamber of Commerce would gradually phase in a minimum wage increase, reaching $13 an hour by 2017 for some workers, with an even more gradual increase for some workers, such as employees of businesses with fewer than 15 workers, or employees of social service organizations or job training programs. Both the Lift Up Oakland ballot measure and the ordinance introduced by Council President Kernighan would guarantee some number of paid sick days for all employees.

In April, Councilmember Larry Reid proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.20. No action was taken on the proposal when it was discussed at the April 29th Community and Economic Development Committee, and the plan has not been re-introduced (Reid is now supportive of the Chamber of Commerce's plan introduced by Council President Kernighan in July). The union-backed proposal is for $12.25, would increase with inflation and require employers provide at least five sick days for minimum wage workers. He says that that proposal is "too much, too soon." Others say that this kind of minimum wage will keep new restaurants from opening in Oakland. 1 If you have information on other councilmembers' positions on increasing the minimum wage, please add them below.

A poll in May, 2014, said nearly 3/4 of the people surveyed supported the $12.25 proposal. 6

Living Wage Ordinance

In 1998, the city council passed a living wage ordinance, #12050, the "Oakland Living Wage Ordinance". It set a minimum wage for:

"all employers (except where specifically exempted) under contracts for the furnishing of services to or for the City and that involve an expenditure equal to or greater than $25,000 and certain recipients of City financial assistance that involve receipt of financial assistance equal to or greater than $100,000" 5

It started at $8.00 per hour ($9.25 without health benefits) and provisions for paid time off. The rates are adjusted for cost of living (based the Bay Region Consumer Price Index) each year, and as of March, 2014 is $11.96 per hour ($13.75 without health benefits). As of July 1, 2014, it is $12.25 ($14.10 without health benefits).

Links and References

  1. Oakland council to consider minimum wage hike Matthew Artz, Oakland Tribune Mar 28, 2014.
  2. History of California Minimum Wage ca.gov
  3. Living Wage Calculator
  4. Social Responsibility portofoakland.com
  5. Oakland Living Wage Ordinance oaklandnet.com
  6. Poll again shows Jean Quan leading Oakland mayor's race Matthew Artz Oakland Tribune May 9, 2014
  7. Bill passes to push California's minimum wage to $13 an hour SFGate.com May 30, 2014
  8. A Battle for Profits Darwin Bond Graham East Bay Express July 9, 2014