San Francisco will have first $15-an-hour minimum wage

SAN FRANCISCO -- The minimum wage in San Francisco will increase to $15 an hour on Sunday.

Friday afternoon, city officials and workers' rights advocates who fought for the successful 2014 citywide measure Proposition J celebrated the increase during a ceremony at City Hall.

Proposition J, spearhead by the late Mayor Ed Lee and several labor organizations, mandated a series of about-$1 increases to the minimum wage every year thereafter, with the final goal to have it reach $15 by July 2018.

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"We have a very simple philosophy here in San Francisco and that is that no one who is working a job ful ltime should ever have to live in poverty," said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.

"It's an amazing victory ... But we know that we can't stop. Because until we can pay people a wage where they can rent a home; they buy a home; they provide for their family; put food on the table and have a decent life in the richest city in the richest state in our county; we know that we have a lot of work to do," said Ting, advocating for a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage increase. California's minimum wage is currently set at about $11.

"We have a long way to go and we have to fight here in San Francisco because we know that those fights -- those fights that start here and that sound crazy when we first put it out there -- eventually we know that people will follow," Ting said.

City Administrator Naomi Kelly said San Francisco is the first major American city to reach $15 for all its workers.

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"I can't fully appreciate this accomplishment without acknowledging our former late Mayor Ed Lee. It was during 2014, as he did so often, worked and brought all these stakeholders together and a had a consensus-driven approach with business leaders, labor leaders, community advocates to develop Prop J," Kelly said.

"Mayor Ed Lee often reminded us that this great city of San Francisco must treat workers fairly and that shared prosperity is an integral part of our strong economy," Kelly added. "Those who say we have to choose between economic growth and fair pay are wrong. We in San Francisco have proven that these elements aren't exclusive of each other and, in fact, they compliment each other."

The city's last wage increase, part of the series of increases mandated in Prop J, occurred July 2017 with minimum wage rising to $14.

When Prop J passed with 77 percent of the vote in 2014, the city's minimum wage was at $10.74. Proposition J was preceded by Proposition L, which voters passed in 2003, raising the city's hourly minimum wage to $8.50.

According to the City Administrator's Office, since the minimum wage began increasing in 2015, the city's unemployment rates have fallen to historic lows. In April of this year, the unemployment rate was recorded at 2.1 percent, the lowest since 1990.

Within the last years, residents in several other Bay Area cities have successfully fought for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

On Sunday, the city of Emeryville in the East Bay will also reach a $15 hourly minimum wage. Berkeley will see a similar increase in October.

In the South Bay, both Mountain View and Sunnyvale already reached the $15 an hour goal in January of this year. Palo Alto will reach that goal in January 2019.
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