Minimum Wage Battle Heats Up in Mountain View

While Mountain View considers upping the hourly minimum wage from $9 to $10.15, activists are saying that's not enough.

“No one can live on $10 here,” said Meghan Fraley, 31. “This is an expensive community and there is a great deal of invisible poverty. We have a huge problem.”

For a year now, Fraley, a co-organizer of advocacy group Politically Inspired, has lobbied to raise wages for the city's poorest workers. She points to San Jose as a model, where voters raised the hourly minimum from $8 to $10, with an adjustment to $10.15 in January for inflation.

Minimum Wage MemeLeading up to the voter-approved wage hike in Silicon Valley's largest city, business leaders and restaurant lobbyists cautioned that businesses would have to cut jobs and raise prices, that unemployment would increase and the economy would suffer.

In fact, San Jose's jobless rate dropped since the 2012 policy change. (The Silicon Valley Business Journal wrote a very informative article about the effects of the policy a year later, which weren't nearly as dire as opponents predicted.)

Next month, Mountain View's City Council will consider raising the minimum wage higher than the state's, which is set at $9 an hour.

Modeled after San Jose’s minimum wage ordinance, the proposed rate in Mountain View would be set at $10.15 (adjusted over time for inflation), and would go into effect July 2015. It would apply to any business inside the city or under the jurisdiction of a Mountain View Business License.

The average monthly rent in Mountain View is $2,082, about $300 higher than San Jose's, according to market tracker RealFacts. A minimum-wage earner working full-time in Mountain View would only take home just $1,440 a month.

Fraley says the city should consider the living wage—how much a person has to earn to support themselves or their family. Given the cost of living in Mountain View, that amounts to at least $12 an hour for a single adult, according to the MIT's Living Wage Calculator. Here are the living wage estimates for Mountain View, based on family size:

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"If Seattle can [raise the minimum to $15 an hour] without as much affluence as Mountain View, then we absolutely can afford it," Fraley said.

Politically Inspired is encouraging proponents of the $15-minimum to attend a city-hosted forum Monday night, where citizens can give public input to the council. The forum takes place from 6:30 to 8pm on Sept. 8 at the Senior Center, 266 Escuela Ave., in Mountain View. Free childcare will be provided. Those who can't attend are encouraged to email the city at [email protected]

“It’s really inspiring to see how successful San Jose’s model as been,” Fraley said. “It tells us we can get into theoretical debates but when we look at real impact, it is something we can afford and can make work for everything.”

The rest of the Bay Area is mobilizing as well. San Francisco is set to vote on a $15 minimum wage in November, with Berkeley and Oakland following similar measures. Sunnyvale voted in May to adopt San Jose’s model and jumpstart the hike from $8 to $10 by January 2015, ahead of the state.

Up north, fast-food workers in Sacramento joined the Service Employees International Union in a nation-wide effort on Thursday to seek a $15 per hour minimum wage, launching a rally in the capital’s streets. The organized strikes and protests sprouted in more than 100 cities in the U.S. Sacramento’s demonstration included around 500 fast-food employees.

poverty wages

7 Comments

  1. Same old, same old.

    “I want everybody to have more because I have a big heart.”

    It has been remarked on often, and the minimum wage big hearts never seem to understand the issue, but doesn’t a person who advocates a minimum wage of $11,256 per hour have a bigger heart than a person who advocates for a miserly $15 per hour wage?

    Why are the Mountain View minimum wage advocates so stingy?

  2. Because of My Big Heart…

    I used to give the neighbor kid a ride to his fast food job whenever he was running late.
    I hoped the government wouldn’t bother the illegals from crossing the border to seek work.
    I felt sorry for the neighbor kid when he lost his job to someone who was available for more hours.
    I cheered when they raised the minimum wage.
    I understood why employers had to fire a few workers because of rising labor costs.
    I was outraged that fast food workers couldn’t make their $2000 a month rent.
    I was relieved when the minimum wage went up again.
    I was relieved when employers had to start providing medical coverage.
    I understood it when employers had to fire even more workers.
    I felt bad that the neighbor kid couldn’t find another part-time job.
    I didn’t mind paying more for my burger and fries, but I do brown bag it more often.
    I felt compassion for the immigrants marching for better wages.
    I felt sorry for the workers and franchise owner when my favorite hamburger joint closed down.
    I understand why I have to drive an extra three miles for a burger.
    I handed a buck to the beggar at the freeway off-ramp yesterday.
    I felt bad when I recognized him as my neighbor kid.

    • It is sad that this is the road that we have been so willing to be lead down. So sad. Your neighbor, our children… what has happened to America? I’d like to hear from Rich Robinson on this….nah on second thought I already know what he would say….Reagan…Bush… Cheney… Halliburton… “faux news” …

      • Gotta say I like Finfans post too. Minimum wage was designed to be a “Step up” wage. Just enough for 1 person, to rent a room, and qualify as a “Low income” earner for school grants. The flipside as finfan pointed out is it was for kids without enough experience or expertise to be a part of the regular workforce.

        It annoys me to no end when we hear phrases like, “Only migrant workers will work farms!” My grandmother cut cots, my dad cut cots, and I’ve cut cots. I cut cots, stacked and split firewood, cut lawns, cleared brush, all before I was 12.

        Unfortunately todays world isn’t the safe world I grew up in the 70’s to 80’s. We released a lot of the riff raff that used to be safely tucked away in places like Agnews. We don’t even allow our children to have unsupervised visits with friends down the street because we just don’t want to take a chances. Antecdocal story, but I wrapped the edge of our living room table with pipe insulation to keep my then, toddler son from knocking his head into it.

        I had a paper route at 11. I woke up before the sun, folded papers when it was so cold I could barely move my fingertips, and cursed very loudly when those rubber bands snapped on hands already stinging from the lack of heat. Eventually the merc figured out migrants in a car did a better job than I did on a bike, and all minor paperboys were released of service.

        These days we pay our kids out of our own pockets. Kids have lost that sense of contribution to their families because the opportunity no longer exists.

        • Yes, mr. finfan is one sharp hombre.
          If he writes something with which you disagree, reexamine your own beliefs and read it again. There’s always something of value there even if you wind up still in disagreement.

  3. If the Republicans weren’t so clueless and had an ounce of the guile that “progressives” have, they would see a huge opportunity here.

    Imagine:

    The Koch brothers fund minimum wage initiatives in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco.

    Oakland: $75/hour. Berkeley: $125/hour. San Francisco: $175/hour.

    After all, that’s what rich corporate tycoons make.

    Occupy Wall Street, Jesse Jackson, and all of the “community organizer” usual suspects organize the tribalist forager underclass and pass the initiatives overwhelmingly.

    Result: all “minimum wage” jobs in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco are filled by . . . rich corporate tycoons (doing rich corporate tycoon things).

    Burger flipper, janitor, waiter, retail clerk jobs mysteriously disappear. Hmmmm. How did that happen?

    Want a burger in Berkeley? Order take-out delivered from Hayward.

    Want to be a burger flipper? Move to Hayward.

    Want to buy Hillary”s book in San Francisco? Order it from Amazon for delivery by a U.S. Postal Services worker paid the SF minimum wage of $175/hr.

    Want to be a USPS worker? Kiss some political butt, because there will only be one job in SF.

    The already elitist San Francisco and Berkeley will become even more elitist and more plutocratic.

    The already disintegrating, depopulating Oakland will become even more disintegrated and depopulated.

    At some point, the only people dumb enough and rich enough to live in Oakland, Berkeley, or San Francisco would be Republicans or crony capitalist Democrats. (But what’s the difference).