RICHMOND -- After months of back and forth over whether and how to increase the city's minimum wage, the City Council is set to delve into the politically charged issue again Tuesday, with Councilman Jim Rogers proposing a new iteration that would push the wage up to $13 per hour by 2018 and exempt local manufacturers who do more than half their business outside the city.
"The council should adopt a compromise proposal on the minimum wage issue, to try to prevent ongoing conflict and changes in the law," Rogers wrote in his agenda report.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin also has an item set for Tuesday calling on the minimum wage to top out at $13 per hour and supporting Rogers' exemption for some manufacturers, although she has previously said she would prefer not to have that exemption.
The issue promises to bring labor, business and other interest groups to the meeting to voice their positions and is the latest step in an ongoing, impassioned process that began early this year.
On March 18, McLaughlin, Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles and Councilman Jael Myrick introduced an ordinance to raise the minimum wage to $12.30 by 2017, which the council passed.
But on April 15, the City Council voted to defer formal adoption of the ordinance for further study, with several members arguing that there was not sufficient outreach to the city's business community.
On May 6, amid growing opposition from employers and staunch advocacy from labor and other proponents, the council directed staff to bring back a revised ordinance with seven amendments. But two of the amendments were deemed not legally viable by the city's legal counsel -- exempting workers under 18 and a clause deducting tips from workers' wages.
McLaughlin supported that measure but only because she said it was clear she didn't have the votes for a stronger law and that it would move the process forward.
The newest proposal would phase in the minimum wage hike over several years, beginning with $9.60 on Jan. 1 2015, then going to $11.52 in 2016, $12.30 in 2017 and $13 in 2018, with the wage pegged to inflation after that. Those rates mean Richmond could have the highest minimum wage in the state and one of the nation's highest.
"I'm kind of vacillating between not supporting any of them and maybe supporting one of them," Councilman Tom Butt said. "I'm getting a little sick of all the pressure from outside groups and all the different versions floating around, so I haven't decided yet."
Labor unions have come out in force to past council meetings to demand a wage hike without exemptions and say they will initiate a November ballot measure if the council fails to act.
Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at Twitter.com/sfbaynewsrogers.
What: Richmond City Council meeting
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Richmond City Council chamber, 440 Civic Center Plaza
Why: Discussion about potential minimum wage increase