Tonight, the Emeryville City Council moved its landmark minimum wage ordinance forward in a unanimous 5-0 vote. The vote represents a 'first reading', a required step in a two part process for all new City ordinances. Some small tweakings of the previous iteration were made after the Council heard from a flood of ordinary citizens, community activist organizations, clergy, Union Representatives, RULE members and most of all minimum wage workers themselves.
The first reading included language that would raise the rate of pay for all workers on July 1st with small businesses paying $12.25 per hour and big businesses paying $14.42 per hour. The Council defined a small business as one with 55 or fewer employees.
Missing tonight were business owners with only one or two taking to the microphone. Several speakers intending to request the Council place a moratorium on enacting the minimum wage filled out speaker cards but failed to speak, notably the editor of the E'Ville Eye, Emeryville's pro-business blog. The editor, Rob Arias, has been agitating against the minimum wage ordinance for months, using his blog to demand an academic study to be performed before any more talk of raising the wage happens. Mr Arias and his business owner colleagues left the building after hearing many workers speak of their travails tying to make ends meet on the minimum wage.
Look to the Tattler for more in depth coverage in coming days.