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UPDATED: Berkeley Labor Commission Pushing to Raise Minimum Wage to $19

City council is putting the proposal to vote tonight.

Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley
Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley
Urban~commonswiki/Wikicommons

Berkeley's Labor Commission is proposing an aggressive increase to the city's minimum wage, which would incrementally raise it to $19 by 2020. The schedule, if approved tonight by the Berkeley City Council, would change the minimum wage raise in October 2016 to $13 from the already approved $12.53, and then increase it to $14.50 in October 2017, $16 in 2018, $17.50 in 2019 and $19 in 2020, Berkeleyside reported. The Labor Commission said the adjustments will promote and protect "the rights and the individual self-reliance of working people in Berkeley by raising the minimum wage to a living wage, adding an annual cost of living adjustment, and granting adequate paid sick leave to all workers."

The proposed changes have caught many in the town off-guard, including the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and local business owners. Alex Popov, owner of Pappy's, Smart Alec's and an upcoming music venue and craft beer garden in the former Thalassa space, said that "planning for the future is difficult given all the changes coming down the pike" and that "the city should consider a rate increase more closely linked to the consumer price index, as some other nearby cities have done."

The Labor Commission's plan is significantly higher than other nearby numbers, which have the city of San Francisco at $15 by 2018 and Los Angeles at $15 by 2020. Stay tuned for an update tomorrow on the outcome of tonight's vote.

UPDATE, 9/16 7:45 a.m.: The Berkeley City Council voted to move the minimum wage issue to a special meeting on November 10 in a 7-2 vote (with two abstaining), Berkeleyside Tweeted. The meeting was standing room only with both local business owners and fast food workers attending to argue their sides.

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