Jovanka Beckles: Why the Minimum Wage is Good for Richmond


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blogimage.jpgRichmond is attempting to solve several issues at the same time. One, we are helping residents by providing a wage that will help more families  live with dignity. Two, we are helping businesses.

When residents have more to spend, more disposable income, they spend it. When they spend it, demand increases. When demand increases, business improves; businesses thrive. When business improves and thrive, more people get hired. When those who want to work work, we create a healthy thriving city.  

Minimum wage increases have been shown to act as a stimulus to those cities where it was raised. A recent article in the San Jose Mercury stated, "A year later, it is clear that raising San Jose's minimum wage has been an incredible success. The data shows that under San Jose's minimum wage, unemployment was reduced, the number of businesses grew, the number of minimum wage jobs expanded, average employee hours remained constant and the economy was stimulated." 
  
In fact, I know several Richmond employers who already pay their employees at least $12 an hour and they are quite successful. They shared with me that when employees make a wage that they can live on, turn over is low thus allowing for stability in their business. 
  
There are some who say Richmond isn't in a bubble. We can't just raise it in Richmond and not have it affect businesses negatively because people can shop in the nearby cities. We are not in a bubble. But when other cities see the difference that it makes here in Richmond, the people will demand change in their cities as well.  
  
FDR once said, "The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little."- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Jovanka Beckles, Vice Mayor of Richmond
Reposted from RPA Newsletter, March 31 2014

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  • commented 2014-04-02 20:44:54 -0700
    It’s not the concept of the minimum wage that needs scrutiny—it’s the details in the resolution sponsored by Vice-Mayor Beckles that needs a good going over with a magnifying glass.

    In particular, the regional nature of this new law is one of its biggest flaws. It applies only to Richmond and not to neighboring El Cerrito, San Pablo and Pinole where the cost of Labor—and the subsequent cost of the goods and services—would be 37% lower. THAT is a significant amount. If I own a widget company in Richmond and I have competing widget companies in El Cerrito, San Pablo and Pinole, how can I be competitive when they can undercut my labor costs by 37%?

    And if I’m one of those people having to live off of substandard wages, why would I shop in Richmond when I can get the same products in Pinole, El cerrito and San Pablo for considerably less—for a LOT less?

    Also, she’s put in an exemption so that smaller businesses won’t have to pay the higher wage. If your widget shop has 9 employees and mine has ten, I have to pay 37% more in wages. How am I supposed to compete when my competition has been given an edge by the Vice-Mayor? It’s like she wants my business to stay small—to barely creep by struggling as a small business. Even though we all aspire to be successful, it’s as if the Vice-Mayor wants to be sure we can’t succeed. Maybe she perceives success with moving from the 99% to the 1% and that’s something she’ll do anything to prevent.

    And lastly—and this is the part I really love—she and her associates spoke so eloquently and forcefully about how important this was to be passed immediately. Even though the Council voted for a staff report, the Vice Mayor and her friends insisted that it had to be passed before a staff report could be presented. It had to be passed before it could be put to the voters for their consideration. Yet it won’t go into effect until next year and it will only go up by a little bit and won’t be implemented fully for three years. And THAT’S what they call IMMEDIATE relief? I’m glad they don’t work for the fire department or drive ambulances.

    Maybe it’s just the cynical side of me but why does this smack of sleazy politics by elected representatives that want to be reelected?
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