Redwood City council votes in favor of minimum wage ordinance

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The Redwood City council voted in favor Monday of establishing a minimum hourly wage in the city.

With six of seven councilmembers voting in favor, the ordinance will establish the minimum hourly wage in Redwood City at $13.50 on Jan. 1, 2019, and will then raise the minimum wage to $15 on Jan. 1 2020. Meanwhile, the minimum wage will be adjusted based upon the Consumer Price Index, otherwise known as the cost-of-living index, every year starting in 2020.

The minimum wage will far eclipse the current federal minimum of $7.25, and outpaces California’s phased-in approach to increasing the minimum wages for all employees to $15 by 2023.

Council requested city staff explore establishing a minimum wage ordinance in June last year, then requested several months later that the city’s minimum wage reach $15 faster than the state’s.

Redwood City joins 41 local agencies nationwide and 17 in the Bay Area to establish a minimum wage ordinance. The City of San Mateo is among them, with its ordinance reaching $15 in January 2019, while Belmont’s will reach $15 in January 2020.

City staff said Redwood City’s ordinance followed a “robust outreach” campaign with the business community that involved mailing 6,100 postcards and 250 business visits citywide, among other efforts. Members on city council were among the city representatives to visit businesses in order to discuss impacts of the ordinance.

City staff found that with the increasing costs to live in Redwood City, a majority of the city’s employers already pay more than $15 per hour in order to retain talent.

One of the problems posed about the minimum wage ordinance is that by forcing wages up for the least paid employees, some businesses will have to also raise wages for employees who make more than $15. That will have an impact on the city, since the minimum wage will require it to restructure wages at a cost estimated at about $500,000. The city will pay about $30,000 for enforcement.

A second and final reading on the ordinance is scheduled for the April 9 Redwood City Council meeting, after which public outreach about the rules will begin.