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Berkeley, Calif., delays consideration of $19 wage

After an outcry from local restaurants, the City Council of Berkeley, Calif., decided to delay further discussion and a possible vote on a $19 minimum wage until Nov. 10.

A hearing held Tuesday brought warnings from restaurants in the Bay Area city that they could not stay in business if the minimum rose to $19 by 2020. They noted that Berkeley already has one of the highest minimums in the nation, at $10 an hour, and an automatic increase in that amount, as mandated by previous law, is set to begin.

A $19 wage would be the highest in the nation, and surpasses the $15-an-hour rate that organized labor has set as a “living wage” needed by hourly workers to pay fundamental expenses.

The higher was recommended by the city’s Commission on Labor. The panel also recommended that wage and hour laws be adjusted to guarantee that service charges—the fees sometimes charged by restaurants and routinely by caterers to pay servers in lieu of tips—actually go to servers and are not kept by employers.

The Commission also advised that the $19 minimum wage subsequently rise automatically at the same rate of inflation, and that local employers be required to provide paid sick leave.

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