Subject: Minimum Wage Ordinance Amendment, Referendum Petition
This is to update the community about a Referendum Petition that was submitted to the Emeryville City Clerk on June 25, 2019 regarding the recent amendments to the City’s Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO). The Petition has been reviewed and found to be sufficient, and contains the minimum number of signatures required. The City Clerk submitted it to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters (ROV) this afternoon. The ROV must now check and certify the validity of the signatures. If the ROV confirms that the appropriate number of signatures are from registered voters in Emeryville, then the MWO amendment must be brought back to the City Council. What actions the City Council must consider are described in detail below. Essentially, the Council has two options: repeal the MWO amendment entirely or place the matter before the voters at an election. If the matter is placed before the voters at an election, the amendment is not in effect pending the outcome of the election. The City will notify the public if and when the City Council meeting including this matter is scheduled.
On May 29, 2019, the City Council adopted an amendment to the City’s Minimum Wage Ordinance [Emeryville Municipal Code (EMC) Title 5 Chapter 37] to add a definition of “Small Independent Restaurants” and establish a different minimum wage of $15 per hour for fiscal year 2019-2020 for those Small Independent Restaurants. The amendment provided that the minimum wage for Small Independent Restaurants would gradually increase over the next eight years, until 2027 when the minimum wage for all businesses would be the same.
Subsequent to that action, the City Council was informed that a referendum may be filed in an attempt to overturn the decision that approved the amendment. On June 25, 2019, a referendum petition was submitted to the City.
Effect of the Referendum Petition:
According to the State Elections Code, if the petition is certified to have the sufficient number of signatures, the effective date of the ordinance that is the subject of the referendum (the MWO Amendment) is suspended. While the MWO Amendment is suspended, the provisions of the Minimum Wage Ordinance remain as they were pre-amendment, specifically, the minimum wage rate for all businesses, whether small (55 or less employees) or large (56 or more employees) will be $16.30 per hour beginning July 1, 2019.
City Council Actions:
Pursuant to the State Elections Code, if the petition is certified, the City Council shall reconsider the MWO Amendment at its next regular meeting, the agenda for which would be posted and published according to the Brown Act. The possible actions that could be taken by the Council are as follows:
A. Repeal the MWO Amendment entirely.
B. If the City Council does not entirely repeal the MWO Amendment, it must submit the MWO Amendment to the voters, either at the next regular municipal election occurring not less than 88 days after the order; or
C. Submit the MWO Amendment to the voters at a special election called for that purpose, and occurring not less than 88 days after the order.
If the Referendum is placed on the ballot and passes, the MWO amendment will not go into effect and all businesses will be required to pay $16.30 per hour whether the business is a small (55 or less employees) or large (56 or more employees) employer. If the measure is placed on the ballot and does not pass, the MWO Amendment will go into effect, with its provisions defining Small Independent Restaurants and establishing a different wage rate for Small Independent Restaurants.
City staff will make every effort possible to keep the community informed during this process. Staff will also distribute the annual notices and posters once the City has clarity on what the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 wage rates will be.