Best New Law

Emeryville's Minimum Wage Ordinance

On June 2, tiny Emeryville did a very big thing by raising its minimum wage for all workers to $16 by 2019. Emeryville's minimum wage law is the most ambitious and equitable of any municipal minimum wage yet passed in the United States. And unlike a lot of cities where political leaders failed to act, year after year, forcing voters to demand a minimum wage increase through the initiative process (e.g. Oakland), Emeryville drafted and passed its minimum wage through a city council ordinance. The courage of the Emeryville city council to take on the issue and push for a truly living wage benefited everyone and resulted in a much smarter measure than what most cities have passed. The law distinguishes between large and small firms, immediately lifting pay at big companies to $14.44, and for small companies to $12.25. These two wage schedules converge on $16 an hour by 2019 for all employees, and the wage is linked to the Consumer Price Index, so its value keeps up with inflation. Hopefully other cities take note of Emeryville's leadership and catch up.

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