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Coalition works to raise Oakland minimum wage

Logo from the Lift Up Oakland website,
Logo from the Lift Up Oakland website,

A local group called Lift Up Oakland recently launched a campaign to raise the minimum wage in Oakland from $8 per hour to $12.25 per hour in the hopes of improving the community and the local economy.

Lift Up Oakland is a coalition of labor workers, students, unions and organizations including the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE) and the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC). Lift Up Oakland needs 35,000 signatures to be able to pass a ballot initiative in November to raise the minimum wage. Lift Up Oakland launched the campaign on Feb. 15 and continued to gather signatures March 1 and March 7.

Lorien Rice, an associate professor in the department of economics believes that raising the minimum wage on a local level is controversial.

“Generally, economists are less optimistic about having a local increase in the minimum wage, because then some employers may move to other cities that have a lower minimum wage and the jobs move away along with the employers,” Rice said in an email. “Again, it is hard to measure how big of a problem that is, which makes it controversial.” 

Katherine Wu, a junior at Mills, also worries that there will be consequences if the minimum wage increases locally.

“Individual companies might hire less because they have to pay more,” Wu said.

Ashley Morgan, a junior at Mills, thinks that the minimum wage should be raised but notes that it will be difficult to increase.

“Do I believe that workers living on a minimum wage salary need more money to realistically live in the Bay Area? Absolutely,” Morgan said. “The difficulty in raising the minimum wage, however, namely figuring out where the extra money is going to come from, leads me to be apprehensive about simply saying yes to the increase.” 

Although Morgan thinks that the increase in minimum wage will be beneficial, she is skeptical as to how much the increase will help.

“Factor in minimum wage workers with families and the disparity between them and individuals who make more than minimum wage becomes even more apparent,” Morgan said. “Raising the minimum wage would hopefully allow workers to live at least marginally better, ideally more.”

In addition to Lift Up Oakland’s campaign, there are already several changes that will affect the minimum wage on a broader scale. In September 2013 Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 10, which will increase the minimum wage in California to $10 by 2016. The minimum wage will increase to $9 on July 1, 2014 and to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016. President Obama has also proposed raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour nationally.

Lift Up Oakland is also working on adding a provision requiring that employees are able to have up to five days of paid sick leave. Although California does not currently have paid sick leave, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez announced a bill Jan. 14 that would allow California workers to have at least three paid sick days a year.

Lift Up Oakland will host several other events throughout March around Oakland. The coalition encourages Oakland community members to join them.

“Together, let’s lift our entire community and make Oakland the kind of city [where] families can afford to put food on the table,” the Lift Up Oakland website said.

For more information, go to

Life Up Oakland
Signature Campaign Events:

Friday, March 7
First Friday
Meet at the ISO table,
24th and Telegraph
5:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Hosted by ISO

Saturday, March 15
SEIU 1021 Union Hall
Meet at 100 Oak Street
10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Hosted by SEIU 1021

Sunday, March 23
Oakland Running Festival
Meet at 100 Oak Street
8:30 am to 3:00 pm
Hosted by ROC

Saturday, March 29
Allen Temple Church
Meet at 8501 International Boulevard
10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Hosted by UFCW Local 5