What was at Stake: Oakland voters were electing 2 council members and a mayor, alongside important initiatives including Measure BB, which had narrowly failed on the ballot in 2012 but would invest 19% of its revenue in transit operations and create a pilot program for youth passes expected to benefit thousands of students and young people.
Given this context, ACCE Action and our allies began to investigate potential ballot measures to build off the growing worker justice campaigns in the area, organizing low wage fast food and retail workers. The Lift Up Oakland coalition decided, after extensive polling and research, to run the first ballot initiative in the country to both raise the minimum wage AND provide workers paid sick days, as well as other critical protections for enforcement of the initiative. ACCE Action members, alongside our coalition partners, gathered the needed signatures and got our measure on the ballot, Measure FF, while simultaneously continuing to build a strong movement on the ground of workers and community.
Voter Engagement: ACCE Action spoke to over 13,000 voters, and identified roughly 6,100 as supporters for our slate of issues. We built capacity with the purchase of a state-of-the-art autodialing system, allowing phone canvassers to effectively reach voters and increase our contact rates. Canvassers worked door-to-door in targeted precincts of low-income voters and voters of color throughout Oakland, connecting Measure BB to the very popular minimum wage increase to improve turn out and making sure that voters had a plan to get to the polls. We called voters in over 6 cities throughout Alameda County, focusing on North Alameda County which carried the vote on BB.
Leading up to the vote-by-mail post-mark deadline, we called and door knocked permanent absentee voters we had ID’ed to make sure they turned their ballots in on time. On Election Day, we knocked on the doors of supportive voters and pulled people out to the polls.
Coalition Building: The Lift Up Oakland Coalition was co-led by ACCE Action and EBASE, along with strong labor and community partners like SEIU 1021 and ULTCW, East Bay Organizing Committee, and Street Level Health Project. The work of this coalition strengthened our relationships and built strong labor-community electoral capacity that ties our on-the-ground ongoing work to a strategy for electoral political power and policy change.
Meanwhile, ACCE Action partnered with GENESIS, the Building Trades Unions, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, and others across the county to mobilize and educate voters about Measure BB. Our coalition made more than 65,000 get-out-the-vote calls to targeted voters during the week of the election, and bus riders, clergy and members of East Bay’s bicyclist’s community organized to make sure the voices of impacted communities were highlighted.
Outcomes: Measure FF passed with 81% of the vote and on March 2, Oakland’s Minimum Wage increased to $12.25 with up to 9 paid sick days! This is the first measure of its kind, and has laid the ground work for similar policies across the region and across the country. Our coalition is continuing work together to organize workers during the implementation phase of this initiative and continue to ensure workers get fair treatment, fair hours and the rights they are entitled to.
Measure BB passed with nearly 70% of the vote. The difference between the measure’s defeat in 2012 and passage this year was clearly the coalition’s dedication to contacting and turning out voters in affected communities. The leadership of bus riders, clergy and groups like ACCE Action and GENESIS paved the way for the measure to pass – and now we continue to advocate for the measure’s implementation, including the new free youth bus pass.