NEWS RELEASE, 12/06/99
Latest UC Berkeley living wage study, released today (Dec. 6), addresses Port of Oakland workers
By Kathleen Scalise, Public Affairs
BERKELEY-- If every passenger flying out of Oakland International Airport paid just 59 cents more per ticket, all airport workers could be assured of receiving a "living wage" and health insurance, according to a study released today (Monday, Dec. 6) by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.
This report is the latest of several UC Berkeley studies on the impact of living wage legislation in the Bay Area.
"Extending Oakland's ordinance to the port could bring over 3,000 low-wage workers a little closer to a decent standard of living, without undermining business growth or port revenues," said Carol Zabin, co-author of the report and a labor economist at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education in the Institute of Industrial Relations.
Citizens' groups in Oakland have proposed extending the city's Living Wage Ordinance to cover employees at the Port of Oakland. Over 11,000 workers are employed by businesses in the maritime shipping, airport and waterfront real estate divisions of the port.
Oakland's law, which currently does not apply to the port site, requires businesses to pay their workers $8.30 per hour if they provide family health benefits or $9.55 per hour without benefits. Wages are indexed to cost-of-living adjustments every year. The ordinance also requires a minimum of 12 days total paid leave for illness, holidays and vacation.
The new UC Berkeley study estimates the costs and benefits of extending this living wage policy to the Port of Oakland. Zabin said the total cost of bringing the living wage policy to the port would be about $13 million per year, and costs would be concentrated among employers in the airport and real
estate divisions of the port. She found African American workers and Oakland residents are over- represented in low-wage jobs and would benefit especially from a living wage policy.
The researchers surveyed all the employers at the port to obtain data on employment and pay. The study also discusses the Oakland Living Wage Ordinance, recent growth and income distribution trends in Oakland, the number and demographic composition of workers who would be affected at the port and further detailed costs of the ordinance.
Besides Zabin, other authors of the report are UC Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich and Peter Hall, a graduate student in the campus's Department of City & Regional Planning.
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