New York Times Comes Out Swinging for $15

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted to raise the local minimum wage from $9 to $15 an hour by 2020. The New York Times editorial board came out strongly in favor of the raise while debunking common myths, highlighting the growing class divide, and calling out the restaurant lobby for its greed:

Opponents of higher wages — generally, business groups and their political allies — have raised the same objections in Los Angeles that have been raised since the dawn of the federal minimum wage in 1938: that higher pay will lead to layoffs and business closings or business migration. But experience and research involving actual minimum wage increases indicate otherwise: The added cost of higher wages is offset by savings from lower labor turnover and higher labor productivity. […]

The restaurant industry, however, will not go down without a fight. The Los Angeles City Council has pledged to study the potential effect of allowing restaurants to add a service charge to bills to meet the increased costs. It is past time, however, to stop coddling an industry that has come to regard itself as entitled to special dispensation. If restaurants can’t pay their servers the minimum wage, they need to pay higher earners less or raise prices. If restaurants are franchises that can’t afford to pay adequate wages, their corporate parents should share the burden.

Continue reading A $15 Minimum Wage Bombshell in Los Angeles

Tipped Workers Are Low-Paid Adults

Recent research contradicts the restaurant lobby’s claims about tipped workers:

Oregon workers who earn tips are, by and large, poorly paid adults. For example, the typical waiter or waitress in Oregon is about 26 years old and, including tips, made about $9.35 per hour last year — only 25 cents more per hour than the 2014 minimum wage.

This paper debunks the claims by the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA), the lobby for restaurants and bars, that most minimum wage workers in Oregon are either (a) tipped employees making and reporting over $20 an hour in combined income, or (b) minors who live with their parents and are gaining much-needed work experience. Neither statement, repeated by ORLA at a recent legislative hearing, is supported by the facts.

Read more: Tipped Workers Are Adults Who Earn Little: Debunking the Restaurant Lobby’s Claims

Via Oregon Center for Public Policy

$15 Minimum Wage Good for Small Businesses, Says Recent Study

Supporters of a $15 minimum wage rally at the Oregon Capitol. Photo by Danielle Peterson

More evidence for what we’ve been saying all along: $15 is good for small businesses because when working families have more money to spend, they spend more money in their communities. Big business lobbyists pretend to be concerned about small businesses, but their job is to protect the profits of major low-wage employers such as Walmart and McDonalds. Don’t believe their lies.

Due to factors such as increased productivity and lower employee turnover, Oregon’s small businesses would actually stand to benefit more than lose from a minimum wage hike, according to a new study.

The Silverton-based Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) released the study Wednesday, days before public hearings are scheduled to begin on a series of bills that would raise Oregon’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Read more at the Salem Statesman Journal

Guest Opinion: If Courtney kills bill, $15 minimum wage will go to the ballot

Supporters of a $15 minimum wage rally at the Oregon Capitol. Photo by Jamie Partridge
Supporters of a $15 minimum wage rally at the Oregon Capitol. Photo by Jamie Partridge

The fight for $15 in Oregon will continue despite obstructionism in the Legislature. Kristi Wright, regional organizer for 15 Now Southern Oregon, explains why in this guest opinion:

Democrats like [Oregon Senate President Peter] Courtney act as if paid sick leave and raising the minimum wage are mutually exclusive propositions. This shows how out of touch they are with working families. In a state where half of new jobs pay less than a living wage, and where there are nine job-seekers for every available living-wage job, hard work is no longer enough to get ahead. Oregonians deserve paid sick leave and a living wage, because no one who works should live in poverty.

The fight for $15 is alive and stronger than ever. 15 Now Oregon is organizing communities in Medford, Portland, and elsewhere throughout the state. Hundreds will attend the hearing in Salem on April 13 and demand a floor vote on a $15 minimum wage. If Peter Courtney will not provide real leadership on this important issue, then 15 Now Oregon will take it to the ballot in 2016. SB 610 may be doomed, but the fight for $15 will continue until we win.

Read more at the Medford Mail Tribune