Income inequality has become a key political issue in the Bay Area, and across America. The federal minimum wage has stayed at $7.25 an hour since 2009.
In the Bay Area, lawmakers and organizers are working to change local minimum wage laws. Berkeley’s minimum wage will reach $10.75 by 2016. Richmond's will top $12 the following year. Oakland and San Francisco may put wage hike measures before voters in November. But are these increases enough to live on? Many people at a rally in Oakland said they’re not even close. Let’s hear what they had to say.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, San Francisco passed a variety of measures to help low wage workers try to keep up with the rising cost of living. The city now has the highest minimum wage in the country at 10 dollars 74 cents an hour. It also requires employers to either provide health benefits or pay into a pool so the city can cover their health care costs.
D’Wana Stewart is a native San Franciscan. She graduated from June Jordan School for Equity, a small high school on the southeast side of the city. Now 24, she's working three jobs and shares a home with her mother – it’s the only way she’s been able to stay in San Francisco. We spent a week with D’wana, to get a sense of her life, living on the minimum wage.
Jennifer Piallat has worked in most every aspect of the restaurant industry – dishwasher, waitstaff, chef, manager – and those experiences have informed her decisions as owner of Zazie, a popular bistro in San Francisco's Cole Valley. Her employees receive a living wage, and benefits, and she's testified about her philosophies and process before the U.S. Department of Labor.