EBWPC Policy Statement on Minimum Wage Increases and Paid Sick Days

The Emeryville City Council holds a study session this evening on its proposed minimum wage and paid sick days ordinance, joining other cities in the region in recognizing that these local laws benefit families and the economy. The EBWPC has shared the following supportive policy statements with the Emeryville City Council.

Minimum Wage, Hospitality Worker Service Charges, and Paid Sick Days Policy Statements

The East Bay Women’s Political Caucus (EBWPC) is a nonprofit membership organization that works to increase the number of pro-choice women to elected and appointed office and to win political, economic and social equality for all. This includes identifying issues that impact the daily lives of women and families and advocating for policy solutions.

MINIMUM WAGE

EBWPC strongly supports establishing higher minimum wages within local municipalities as sound policy that improves the lives of women and families. 

  • Higher minimum wages help close the wage gap.

  • Women, particularly women of color, make up a high portion of low wage workers who would benefit the most from higher minimum  wages.

  • Higher minimum wages are particularly crucial in places with high costs of living, like the Bay Area.

  • Businesses benefit from higher wages with lower employee turnover and increased productivity.

For equity and the most benefit, these local laws should apply equally, with no exemptions for any segment of worker or employer.

Higher minimum wages help close the wage gap.

In California, while the higher-than-federal state minimum wage has landed California on the list of states with the smallest wage gap compared to men, this same research by the National Women’s Law Center shows that, on average, California women still make just 83.7% of what men make. The recent and upcoming increases in the state minimum wage – to $9 in 2014 and to $10 in January 2016 – will no doubt help to shrink that gap. But given the cost of living here in the Bay Area, we must do more.

Women, especially women of color, make up a high portion of low wage workers who benefit the most from a higher minimum wage.

A report released by the White House in March 2014 confirmed what most of us already know: that “women in the workforce are more highly concentrated in low-wage sectors such as personal care and healthcare support occupations, and that women account for more than half (55 percent) of all workers who would benefit from increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10.” The National Women’s Law Center reports “women of color are disproportionately represented among minimum wage workers. Twenty-two percent of minimum wage workers are women of color, compared to less than 16 percent of workers overall.”

Higher minimum wages are particularly crucial in places with high costs of living, like the Bay Area.

According to the California Budget Project, Alameda County is in the metropolitan area that ranks seventh in the country with the widest gap between rich and poor. More and more families are finding it harder to make ends meet, and the purchasing power of the minimum wage simply has not kept up with living expenses. The Legislative Analyst’s Office outlines the challenges of California’s high cost of housing, noting that California’s average monthly rent is 50 percent higher than the rest of the country.  

Businesses can benefit from minimum wage policies because low wage workers spend a significant portion of increased earnings.

Studies examining the impacts of San Francisco’s and Santa Fe’s local minimum wage laws have found “no statistically significant negative effects on employment or hours (including in low-wage industries such as restaurants.” And while the economic stimulus created by the increased spending power of low-wage workers who are impacted by a minimum wage increase has not been estimated, we do know that these workers are more likely to spend “a significant portion of those increased earnings.” Numerous other studies have found that raising wages “reduces costly employee turnover and increases productivity.

HOSPITALITY WORKER SERVICE CHARGE

EBWPC strongly supports service charges going to the workers who provide the service.

When customers pay a service charge on their hospitality bill, be it at a banquet facility or a restaurant, they assume those monies are going to the workers who provided the service, not to managers or overhead, and do not leave an additional tip. Even in states like California, where tipped workers are paid the regular minimum wage, many of these workers still live in poverty. Because tipped workers are predominantly women, ensuring that service charges reach those who provide the service will benefit women and their families.

PAID SICK DAYS

EBWPC strongly supports establishing paid sick day requirements within local municipalities as a strategy that supports children and families and helps ensure healthy workplaces.

  • Women make up a high portion of low wage workers who benefit the most from paid sick days.

  • Paid sick days helps businesses maintain a healthy work environment with little impact on business profitability.

Women make up a high portion of low wage workers who benefit the most from paid sick leave.

A study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research showed that in 2012, 42 percent of female workers in California lacked paid sick leave. In other words, more than three million women across the state would lose pay if they took time off to care for themselves or a dependent. That same study identified low wage workers in particular lacking paid sick days: only 29 percent of full-time workers in the lowest earnings bracket (less than $15,000 annually) have access to paid sick days.

Paid sick days helps businesses maintain a healthy work environment, with little impact on business profitability.

Paid sick days policies encourage sick employers to stay home when they are ill, protecting the health of fellow co-workers and customers. Findings from San Francisco’s paid sick leave policy show that “Employer profitability did not suffer. Six out of seven employers did not report any negative effect on profitability as a result of the PSLO.”

 

For more information about EBWPC, visit www.eastbaywpc.org.