It’s no secret that the minimum wage bill passed by the Oregon state legislature is too low and too slow. It leaves working people outside of the Portland area behind, and it phases in so slowly that it does not and will not create a living wage anywhere in Oregon. It won’t make working families self-sufficient, and it fails to bring low-wage workers out of poverty. Nevertheless, due to a significant decline in organizational and voter support since the passage of this bill, the Oregonians for 15 coalition has regretfully suspended signature gathering and will withdraw its $15 statewide ballot initiative.
While it’s true that this bill is insufficient and doesn’t provide self-sufficiency for low-wage workers, it’s also important to recognize the real and historic significance of this bill’s passage both for Oregon and for the broader minimum wage movement throughout the United States. Not only will we have the highest statewide minimum wage in the country with 650,000 people across the state getting a raise, but this is notably also one of the largest victories yet in the national Fight for $15.
Portland and 24 other surrounding cities are will now have a $15 minimum wage with a phase in that, while too long, is along a similar timeframe as in cities like Seattle and Los Angeles. This means that hundreds of thousands of working people in 25 cities are getting a raise to $15. In terms of the sheer number of cities affected, there is no doubt this is the largest step toward $15 so far anywhere in the nation. So even if this law will not bring workers out of poverty, it is nevertheless an achievement that we should be proud of. We hope this accomplishment serves to inspire others across the nation to continue the Fight for $15 with increasing boldness.