Richmond, Calif., is expected to OK minimum wage hike

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Richmond, a small industrial city north of San Francisco, on Tuesday is expected to approve one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country.

City leaders will vote a second — and final — time on an ordinance that will boost the hourly minimum wage to $12.30 by 2017, up from $8 an hour currently.

The vote in Richmond, a city of about 100,000 residents, would follow a spate of cities and states that have passed increases to their minimum wage.


Connecticut, for instance, last week passed a law that will raise the state’s rate to $10.10, the same amount President Obama is calling on Congress to approve. The national minimum wage of $7.25 has not been changed since 2009.

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said the City Council had previously considered putting the measure before voters this fall, but decided to move more quickly.

“We thought the sooner the better,” McLaughlin said.

The council previously weighed two other minimum wage levels: the lowest was $11 an hour and the highest would have set the rate at $15.

The $12.30 hourly rate, if approved, would be implemented incrementally. It would first rise to $9 an hour this spring and go to $9.60 at the start of next year.

It would rise again to $11.52 beginning in 2016, and finally $12.30 a year later.

The phased-in approach “gives small businesses time to absorb this,” McLaughlin said.

Support from local business is split, said Michael Davenport, president of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

His group conducted a poll of members and found that about half supported the increase.

Davenport, who operates a security firm with about 180 employees, said the chamber supported the $11-an-hour rate.


“We just don’t want them to raise it too high and run business out of the city of Richmond,” he said.

Other Bay Area cities are also considering increasing their minimum wage, including Oakland, where residents this fall will vote on raising the city’s rate to $12.25 an hour. Berkeley is also considering raising its minimum wage.

Twitter: @rljourno