The Marin County Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to increase the county’s “living wage” to $18 per hour, a 7 percent boost.

The living wage ordinance was first adopted in 2002 and requires contractors doing more than $25,000 in business with the county to pay their employees more than the state minimum wage.

The increase will take effect in February next year and also applies to the county’s roughly 1,900 In-Home Supportive Services employees. Those workers are employed by the IHSS Public Authority of Marin and provide home care services to Medi-Cal eligible elderly, blind and disabled residents.

IHSS workers’ wages in the county are closely tied to the California minimum wage, which is scheduled to increase on Jan. 1 to $16 per hour. Their hourly pay was already scheduled to increase on that date to $17.45, which county supervisors approved in October, according to Talia Smith, the county’s principal administrative analyst. The increase to $18 starting in February is the result of a state program that incentivizes counties to raise IHSS wages by 10 percent over three years.

Several members of the public spoke in favor of the increase but urged the supervisors to raise the living wage even more since the cost of living is so high in Marin and some other Bay Area counties already pay their IHSS workers more.

“The county has an obligation to meet the needs of its low-income and disabled residents. We need to take this opportunity to make us competitive in the labor market.”

Pat Langley, Marin Organizing Committee

“As the county’s oldest population in the Bay Area, we are in need of all the assistance we can get to attract good people to care for our seniors and disabled,” said Pat Langley, a member of the Marin Organizing Committee, a coalition of community, labor and faith groups that advocates for various public policies.

“The county has an obligation to meet the needs of its low-income and disabled residents. We need to take this opportunity to make us competitive in the labor market,” Langley said.

His views were echoed by several speakers, including IHSS providers and other members of the MOC, with many others sending similar email comments to the supervisors prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

In addition to the living wage increase, the county and the union representing IHSS workers, SEIU Local 2015, will start contract talks in January, which could lead to hourly wages rising above $18 next year.

Kiley Russell writes primarily for Pagransen on issues related to equity and the environment. A Bay Area native, he has lived most of his life in Oakland. He studied journalism at San Francisco State University, worked for the Associated Press and the former Contra Costa Times, among other outlets. He has covered everything from state legislatures, local governments, federal and state courts, crime, growth and development, political campaigns of various stripes, wildfires and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.