Today Raise the Wage Oregon announced a campaign for a statewide minimum wage of $13.50 and the repeal of the preemption law so that cities and counties can raise their own minimum wages. 15 Now Oregon responded that anything less than $15 is not enough for hardworking Oregonians to pay their bills and provide for their families. We will continue to stand strong for $15.
Since the spring of 2014, 15 Now chapters in Oregon have been building the movement for a statewide $15 minimum wage. We have consistently fought for and helped win $15 for working people in Oregon. Those victories have changed lives and have helped propel the Fight for $15 forward into a vibrant and viable statewide campaign. 15 Now Oregon is dedicated to continuing that fight because $15 is the right number for Oregon.
$15 is not an arbitrary number. Numerous studies all show that $15 is the baseline for economic security and self-sufficiency for working people and their families here in Oregon. But $15 is also more than a number: it is a symbol of human dignity and worker empowerment that has inspired people across the state and across the country, and has reignited the debate on income inequality in America.
The $15 proposal that was submitted on our behalf as SB 610 defined both the public and the legislative minimum wage conversations this past session, and with the Oregonians for 15 ballot measure $15 will continue to be the central focus as we move forward into the 2016 legislative session and election season. That conversation is centered around the moral value that no one who works should live in poverty.
According to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, almost 600,000 Oregonians will get a raise under a $15 minimum wage, enabling them to afford the basic necessities of life, and 350,000 children have at least one parent who will get a raise. Furthermore, some 200,000 working people in Oregon earn so little that they qualify for government benefits, costing taxpayers here more than $1.7 billion dollars per year to subsidize the poverty wages of big corporations. Meanwhile Oregon’s economy has been growing at three times the national rate. It is time for working people to get the living wage they have earned.
Oregon is ready for $15, and the ballot initiative is gaining momentum. 1,800 valid signatures were collected from all 36 counties in Oregon, almost double what was needed to qualify for a ballot title. Almost 40 labor unions, community groups, and faith organizations have already endorsed the initiative.
We value our relationships with our labor and community partners that are coming together under the banner of Oregonians of 15. Together we will stand strong for $15, and we will continue to build a movement that will win.
That victory will be a start, a beginning, not an end. We have the opportunity to make history and set an example for the nation by becoming the first state to win a $15 minimum wage. $15 is a start to eradicating poverty in Oregon. It is a step toward winning many more meaningful victories for working families.