Hayward Councilmember Al Mendall, right,
wants Alameda County or Hayward to raise
the local minimum wage to $12 or $15.
"I want to add my voice to those calling for an increase in the minimum wage," Mendall announced Tuesday night during the public comment portion of the Hayward City Council. The call was unprompted and appeared to have caught the rest of the council dumbstruck.
Even though the state minimum wage is slated to ultimately rise to over $10 per hour, Mendall said, “I would like us to go further than that.” He advocated for urging Alameda County to raise the base wage to either $12 or $15.
“If we can’t do it countywide, then I would encourage my colleagues on the council to do it locally," says Mendall. "Talk about tens of thousands of people just in Hayward alone whose lives could be improved by this and it’s something we can do. That’s money that comes into the economy. They’re going to spend it and its going to help local businesses by bringing in more revenue into the local economy. So, it seems like the right things to do, for us.”
Mendall, a council member elected in 2012, estimates 20,000 people in Hayward may be living in poverty even though many are fully-employed. Multinational corporations such as Walmart, Taco Bell and McDonald's, he said, "make billions in profits from that labor while those folks aren't even able to food on their table and have a decent place to live and they work 40 hours-a-week." The low wages, he said, amounts to the state and local government subsidizing the working poor through various safety net programs.
On the same night as Mendall's call for economic equality, the Richmond City Councill directed its city staff to draft three proposals potentially allowing residents there to raised the minimum wage to either $11, $12.30 or $15. Last week, Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel promised to immediately increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, if elected next November.