By Dan Siegel
I am announcing my support of the campaign organized by Local 1021 of the SEIU and a coalition of community organizations to increase Oakland’s minimum wage to $12.25/hr. and to provide paid sick leave to all workers in the City.
Increasing the minimum wage to $12.25 is an important step towards my goal of implementing a $15 minimum.
According to the Living Wage Calculator developed by MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the living wage for a single adult in Oakland is now $11.51 per hour.
If that adult is responsible for the care of one child, the living wage necessary to support the wage earner and her family is $23.22.
Yet California’s minimum wage is now $8 –the federal minimum is $7.25, and even San Francisco’s minimum, which rises based upon increases in the cost of living, is $10.74.
The Economic Policy Institute says that if the federal minimum wage had kept up with increases in labor productivity since 1968, it would now be $18.28.
As more and more adults are forced into minimum wage jobs, one result is that millions of full-time employees qualify for food stamps, rental assistance, and other taxpayer funded welfare programs.
In other words, we all subsidize Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and other low wage employers that do not pay their workers enough to provide for their food, housing and medical care.
The average age of the minimum age earner in the U.S. is 35; most work full time; and over one-fourth are parents.
These facts explain the growing movement across the United States to address income inequality by raising the minimum wage to $15. I support the Fight for $15 movement, led by low wageworkers and unions across the country. This movement is now starting to be taken seriously by politicians, including the mayors of Seattle and San Francisco.
My campaign for mayor is based on the premise that we can create a safe and prosperous city only by insuring that all Oaklanders enjoy social and economic justice.
A society that condemns large numbers of its members to lives of poverty, unemployment, inequality and despair cannot long survive. Increasing the minimum wage is an important step towards creating a just society, towards creating a city in which all people have a stake in living together in peace and harmony.
Oakland civil rights attorney Dan Siegel is one of the candidates running to become mayor of Oakland.