San Jose Votes for a $15 Minimum Wage by 2019 in Response to Community Pressure

Yesterday, the San Jose City Council voted to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2019, three years before the state of California reaches that standard. San Jose — the 10th largest city in the nation— is the latest to join five other Santa Clara County cities in a regional effort to raise the wage.

In the wake of the successful 2012 campaign to raise the minimum wage in San Jose, community support built to raise the wage in other South Bay cities.  Mountain View and Sunnyvale moved to raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2018 and other cities started to follow suit.  The Cities Association of Santa Clara County took up the cause by advancing a regional standard of $15 an hour by January 2019.  Los Altos, Palo Alto and Cupertino and have since voted for $15 by 2019.

Until yesterday San Jose appeared to be bucking the trend toward a regional standard of $15 by 2019, drawing criticism and facing pressure to act from neighboring city leaders and local community members. Mayor Liccardo had issued a memo, co-signed by Vice Mayor Rose Herrera and Councilmembers Chappie Jones and Manh Nguyen, to wait until July 2019 to reach $15 and to exclude youth in job training programs that last for 120 days or less, neither of which was part of the regional plan. While the Council voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 by January of 2019, an exemption was included for disadvantaged youth, making San Jose the only city to have an exemption in its minimum wage ordinance.

The San Jose City Council vote adds momentum to the movement toward a $15 by 19 standard. If adopted by every city in the County, this groundbreaking wage standard would give raises to 250,000 workers, putting $800 million more in their pockets each year and boosting the gross domestic product of the nine-county area by $314 million every year, according to a report by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.

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