People who park cars for a company that contracts with the city can expect a wage hike on July 1. And so can other low-wage workers whose employers service the city.
More than a year after the original proposal was brought to the City Council, and after several sessions where dozens of supporters demonstrated in favor of the ordinance outside of the council chambers, the body unanimously adopted a finalized version of the Living Wage Ordinance without comment at its meeting on Tuesday. Councilmember Margaret Breland was absent.
The ordinance sets the Living Wage at $9.75, plus $1.62 if the employer does not spend that amount of money on health benefits.
It also includes 22 days off, of which 12 would be paid vacation/holiday days.
Employees must receive this wage if they work for a company that employs five or more people and is:
• A for-profit company which does $25,000 annually or more in business with the city.
• A nonprofit company which contracts with the city for $100,000 of services annually.
• A company that leases property from the city which grosses at least $350,000 annually.
• A company that receives more than $100,000 annually in loans or economic assistance from the city.
The ordinance includes permanent part-time employees.
Amaha Kassa, an organizer working with the Berkeley Marina Radisson Hotel workers, whose employer just authorized the employees to unionize, spoke before the council, urging the body to create a Marina Zone to complete the living wage concept. This would be an employment zone at the city-owned marina, where all the employees would get wages mandated by the Living Wage Ordinance.
The hotels and restaurants rent the land from the city, but will not renegotiate leases for a number of years, making the provisions of the Living Wage Ordinance inapplicable for many years, even decades in some cases.
Kassa asked the council to approve the zone before going on vacation in August. “This concept is the way of significantly increasing the scope of the ordinance,” he said.
In other action, just before midnight Tuesday, a weary council approved a resolution to increase the speed limit on Claremont Avenue from 25 mph to 30 mph. That’s because the higher limit is enforceable in the courts. The judicial system looks at the lower limit as a “speed trap,” since few people travel at that speed, and throw out tickets officers write in that zone.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the only member of the body to oppose the speed limit change, asked that the question be referred back to the Transportation Commission, which had already rejected the change. Worthington did get an amendment added to the motion, saying that if a state law were passed that mandated the courts to uphold Berkeley’s 25 mile-per-hour limit, the limit would revert to 25.
Neighborhood activist Dean Metzger urged adoption of the higher limit.
“The issue is an important safety measure for all of us who live on the avenue,” he said.