News Sep 18, 2015 03:24 AM EDT

Berkeley's wage rose to $19 by 2020

By Staff Writer

Berkeley's wage is set to rise to $19 by the year 2020, however, business owners oppose the proposal saying it will put their business at risk a that will eventually lead to closure. 

While activists and unions struggle for a $15 wage hike, Berkeley ha a proposal of $19 per hour by the year 2020.  This would offer workers more of a living wage.

At the moment, Berkeley offers a minimum wage of $10 per hour.  It will increase to $11 this October and to $12.53 by October of next year.  The proposal suggests a rise to $13 by October 2016 and gradually increase it by $1.50 annually until it reached $19.  A vote on the proposal was postponed by Berkeley City Council until November, as reported by CNNMoney.

According to the Zillow, the average rent now tops $3,500.  Berkeley's cost of living can be high.  And the prospect of increasing the hourly wage to $19 will force small business owners to close.

The most common word used to describe the proposal by members of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce is "ridiculous," said Polly Armstrong, the Chamber's CEO.

"In Berkeley, everyone wants to be at the head of the line to do good for working people. But if a business goes out of business, jobs disappear and the city doesn't have a tax base," Armstrong said.

In accordance with the proposal, Mayor Tom Bates reminded supporters that the minimum wage is already scheduled to rise next month and then again next year.  He said this after a long public comment session at Tuesday's meeting attended by dozens of supporters advocated for low-wage workers along with local business owners warned that higher wages might put them out of business as reported by the Berkeley Daily Planet.

"I'm all in favor of raising the minimum wage, I think everyone here is, but we also have to realize we need businesses to stay in business to pay the wage," Bates said.

He added he would like a policy in place to keep up with other minimum wage hikes in the region, particularly San Francisco, with its minimum wage scheduled to rise to $15 in 2018.  Adjacent cities Oakland, Richmond, and Emeryville have also passed recently significant increases to their minimum wage.

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