Bay Area cities get ready for minimum wage hike

SAN JOSE, Calif.

The hourly rate in San Francisco will go up 19 cents, from $10.55 to $10.74 an hour. And in San Jose, the increase is 15 cents, but it comes just months after a much bigger raise. The $8 minimum wage in other parts of the state will soon be history.

This latest pay raise is a cost-of-living adjustment, a provision in the ballot measure San Jose residents approved by a 59 percent margin.

Pay for San Jose's minimum wage workers jumped from $8 to $10 an hour last March. Anyone working in the city limits for at least two hours a week is covered.

"We all know that a minimum wage is exactly that, it's a minimum wage," Sna Jose Communications Director David Vossbrink said. "Nobody's pretending that you can pay off a mortgage in Silicon Valley with a minimum wage, so it's really too early to say what the broad effect will be or if anyone can even measure it."

However, you can measure the unhappiness an unlevel playing field has created. Take stevens Creek Blvd. It's the dividing line between San Jose on the left and Santa Clara on the right. On the right is where Premier Car Wash is located -- in Santa Clara. So workers get $8 an hour, $2 less than workers across the street. However, the gap will narrow a little next summer.

"I'm happy here, but would love to make more money, of course," car wash employee Oscar Ramirez said. "Everybody does, you know."

For workers not covered by higher minimum wage laws, that means a $1 increase to $9 in July. Then another dollar to $10 an hour in Jan. 2016.

San Jose's campaign was launched by students of Professor Scott Myers-Lipton at San Jose State University.

"We increased the wages by 25 percent of our lowest wage workers and have a drop in unemployment," Meyers-Lipton said. "That's a wonderful thing. That's a model for the rest of the country."

And now the issue of pay for fast food workers and other minimum wage workers has moved to the national level.

San Jose's 15 cent an hour increase represents an additional $6 a week for someone working 40 hours.

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