No Minimum Wage Raise for 2016. Oregon Needs $15 Now!

State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced today that there will be no minimum wage increase in Oregon for 2016. The state’s minimum wage is tied to the national rate of inflation, and so goes up (or not) every year depending on the national CPI (Consumer Price Index). It seems that the national inflation rate has been about the same as it was in 2014. Therefore, we get no raise in Oregon’s minimum wage next year.

But we all know that prices have gone up here in Oregon. In fact even statistics show this is true. In the Portland-Salem area for example, the cost of food at home increased 3.3% and food away from home went up by 4,4% in the first half of 2015, compared to the first half of 2014. Rent in Portland is increasing at the fastest rate in the nation. According to a new report by Axiometrics, rent in Portland increased by 15% over the past year.

According to a Zillow report, rent in Portland increased 7.2% from January 2014 to January 2015, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics rent in the Portland-Salem area went up by over 5% in the first half of 2015. The situation has become so dire, in fact, that just yesterday the Community Alliance of Tenants held a press conference in Portland declaring a renter state of emergency.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that Portland is unique in our state when it comes to such price increases.

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Conservative Myth DESTROYED: Seattle Restaurants Post Largest Monthly Job Gain Ever

(first published by U.S. Uncut on August 25, 2015)

Conservative media claim Seattle’s $15/hour minimum wage is hurting business. The latest evidence proves they couldn’t be more wrong.

In 2014, Seattle became the first major metropolitan city in America to begin increasing their minimum wage to $15 an hour, and instantly became the litmus test for the rest of the country. While labor unions and working class Americans applauded the decision, conservative politicians and supporters of trickle down economic theory began a campaign of “doom and gloom” reporting that such a drastic increase would destroy the Seattle economy.

Major news outlets such as FortuneForbes, and Fox News were quick to jump on short-term employment and economic data to proclaim that higher wages were leading to business closures and increased unemployment, while ignoring seasonal trends which most directly affect the food and beverage sector. These reports set the pace for monthly reminders to anyone who would listen that continuing down the road of paying employees a living wage would surely end in calamity.

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15 Now Oregon Stands Strong for $15

15 Now supporters hold a banner reading "Oregon Needs a Raise" on the Capitol steps in Salem.
15 Now supporters hold a banner reading “Oregon Needs a Raise” on the Capitol steps in Salem.

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.  [Read more…]

$15 or Bust in Oregon

by Nicholas Caleb

Oregon’s minimum wage debate has been mired in the failure of our state and local governments to take responsibility for lifting working Oregonians out of poverty. Given this context, many were surprised to hear about Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek’s proposal for a $13/hr minimum wage

State Democrats seemed stumped on how to follow through with their campaign promises to raise the minimum wage, caught between Senate President Peter Courtney’s staunch opposition on the one hand, and on the other a statewide movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; an effort supported by over a 100 labor and community groups. The demand has always been $15, but Salem’s failure to pass Kotek’s $13/hr proposal was also a betrayal of the working poor, a constituency the Democratic Party insists that it will protect in exchange for their votes. And even if Oregon Democrats had rallied to pass Kotek’s bill, it still wouldn’t be enough to lift working Oregonians out of poverty. Those who think that $15 is “too high” seem oddly distanced from the economic reality faced by working people in Oregon, where soaring rent and stagnant wages have produced a perfect storm of economic insecurity. This year, the nonpartisan group Alliance for a Just Society calculated that working people in Oregon needed a wage of at least $15.96/hr in order to meet basic needs. 

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15 Now Grades Oregon’s Legislators

Now that the legislative session is over, 15 Now Oregon has assessed legislators’ actions on raising the minimum wage. Because Democrats campaigned on raising the minimum wage– and subsequently gained a huge majority in Salem — the grades below are focused on them.

And because $15 is the most widely discussed number associated with raising the minimum wage and has the broadest community support — endorsed by over a hundred labor and community groups — the grades are weighted towards performance related to a $15 minimum wage.

Credit was added for being a strong advocate of raising the minimum wage in general, or if legislators supported the removal of the ‘preemption’ law that prohibits Oregon municipalities from raising their minimum wage above the state minimum. [Read more…]