OP-ED: $15/hr. Minimum Wage Increase Can Raise Families from Poverty

Dan Siegel

Dan Siegel

I’m sure you know people making minimum or near minimum wage. You probably know someone who is not a teenager struggling to get by on a low wage job. In fact half of the people in our country making minimum wage are 25 years of age or older.

We don’t need elaborate statistics to describe what an extra $10,000 per year would do for the lives of these people we all know. An increase in the minimum wage would help raise individuals and families from poverty.

Parents would no longer have to decide between paying the bills and buying food. The health and well being of entire communities would improve because, as we know, poverty causes anxiety and stress, which cause physical and mental illness.

My name is Dan Siegel and I’m running for Mayor of Oakland on a platform of social and economic justice. I will fight for a living wage in Oakland, and that means $15/hr.

Such a wage would provide an extra $10,000 in income for every Oaklander who would otherwise be making $10/hr. when California’s minimum wage goes up on Jan. 1, 2016.

Right now there are dedicated people out on the streets gathering signatures to put the question of a $12.25/hr. minimum wage in front of voters in November. It’s a good first step, and I support that effort – after all, it will mean an extra $4,500 for every minimum wage worker.

But that still isn’t a living wage in the Bay Area; rent alone will consume more than half of a $25,000 per year wage, the equivalent of $12.25/hr.

A $15 minimum wage with paid sick leave – which increases with inflation, just the way your rent and food costs do – will create an Oakland where all workers have a solid prospect of being economically secure.

Fighting for social and economic justice has been my inspiration as a civil rights attorney and as a member of the Oakland School Board. Raising the minimum wage is one more aspect of the struggle.

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