Support 15 Now PDX by Becoming a Monthly Sustainer Today!

The grassroots strategy and successful media campaign implemented by 15 Now PDX has steered the entire statewide conversation on raising the minimum wage toward $15. This work has led to tangible victories like a $15 minimum wage for all Multmonah County employees, and a $15 Fair Wage Policy for contract workers in Portland. These victories for $15 benefit the lives of real working people, and with your help we can win even more victories, bigger victories, including making Oregon the first state to win a $15 minimum wage.

Oregon is already the first state to have a serious conversation about a statewide $15 minimum wage, and we can be the first state to win $15. It is unlikely the state legislature will pass $15, but we can take it the ballot, we can win, and 15 Now PDX will be a leader in that effort.

To help us achieve this historic victory in the Fight for $15, 15 Now PDX is a launching a monthly sustainer fundraising campaign. Big business is going to throw down with the full weight of their unimaginable wealth in an effort to stop us. We won’t have big corporations throwing millions of dollars at us to win $15 like the opposition will have to stop it.

Click Here to become a monthly sustainer

What we do have is even more powerful… We have you. Working people. Activists. Allies. People who understand that when you raise the floor, you raise everyone up with it. People who share our vision of an Oregon where no one who works lives in poverty.

Your contributions are vital to the success of this campaign. Knowing that we have the money coming in on a monthly basis to help cover our campaign costs is vital to a sustained and successful struggle. Monthly sustainers help provide the month-to-month financial stability we need to keep growing and fighting.

Our first goal is 500 monthly sustainers donating $15 per month to the campaign. If $5 or $10 per month is what you can afford, that is great too. If you can give more than $15 per month, please do. If you can only give a one time donation, we thank you for that as well.

At whatever amount you are able, with your help and sustaining monthly support we can continue to grow and win bigger and better victories for Portland and for Oregon’s working class!

No one who works should live in poverty. $15 Now!

Click Here to become a monthly sustainer

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(The photo at the top of this article was taken by Mark Colman)

All Out for Committee Hearing on $15 Minimum Wage in Oregon

Call out to all low-wage workers, labor unions, community organizations, Oregon residents, concerned citizens…

Income equality is out of control. The cost of living in Oregon continually outpaces the national inflation rate. Working families in Oregon increasingly have to rely on food stamps, Oregon Health Plan, and other public benefits because big businesses increase their profits by paying poverty wages to hard working people. Oregon taxpayers subsidize those poverty wages to the tune of more than $1.7 billion per year.

SB 610 will raise Oregon’s minimum wage and help bring working families out of poverty. This and other minimum wage bills have a public joint committee hearing at the state capitol building in Salem on Monday April 13th at 6pm.

Let’s pack the capitol and demand that our legislators be real leaders, that they take a stand for working people in Oregon, that the committees vote YES on SB 610 for a $15 minimum wage in Oregon. No one who works should live in poverty!

Attend the hearing! sign up to testify! Tell legislators why a $15 minimum wage will help you and your family, or someone you know! Don’t Kill The Bill! Demand a floor vote!

Let us know you are coming by RSVPing at https://www.facebook.com/events/423536561141274/

There will be a couple buses going from Portland to Salem. Buses will leave Porltand at 3:30 p.m. one from SE 26th and Powell, and one fro. A location still to be determined in NE Portland. Check back soon for the updates on the NE bus departure location. Buses will return to Portland when the hearing is over.

If you would like a seat on the bus please email us and tell us:

1) how many seats you need and the names of those who will fill those seats, 2) whether you want to depart from NE or SE Portland, and 3) a good contact phone number we can reach you at.

In the few weeks leading up to the hearing, please call the Democrat members of the committee and tell them DON’T KILL THE BILL! Demand a floor vote on SB 610 for a $15 minimum wage!

House Business and Labor Committee – HB 2009:
1) Rep. Shamia Fagan 503-986-1451
2) Rep. Bret Barton 503-986-1440
3) Rep. Margaret Doherty 503-986-1435
4) Rep. Paul Evans 503-986-1420
5) Rep. Paul Holvey (chair) 503-986-1408
6) Rep Rob Nosse 503-986-1442

Senate Workforce Committee – SB 610:
1) Sen. Michael Dembrow (chair) 503-986-1723
2) Sen. Diane Rosenbaum 503-986-1700
3) Sen. Sara Gelser 503-986-1708

 

AFSCME Local 3580 Metro Temp Workers Win Huge Raise, Great First Contract!

Temporary workers represented by AFSCME Local 3580 won huge wage raises in their first negotiated contract this week. All those represented will get cost of living adjustments. Hazardous waste workers get a raise from $13.55 per hour to a minimum wage of $17.50 per hour.  Zoo security wages go from $12 to a $15.75 minimum. Scale House workers also jumpy to a $15.75 minimum wage, and Program Animals workers at the Zoo jump to a minimum wage of $16.01.

These are huge gains and we congratulate the affected workers and the union representatives who fought for them at the bargaining table on huge victory.

A statement from AFSCME reads:

“After over three months of bargaining we have finally released an agreement. while not perfect, we feel we made some great gains, especially to wages. Big thanks to our Members, Jobs With Justice, and 15 Now for the support. Also, Metro management deserves credit for making positive movement that will help workers and the community for a long time.”

AFSCME Victory

While this is a great victory for more workers, a victory that helps us gain momentum to build and win $15 for even more working people in Portland and across Oregon, we must recognize it as just that, a start. Portland Metro now joins Multnomah County and the City of Portland in not only recognizing, but in acting on the fact that anything less than $15 is not enough in the Portland area. We call on Metro Council to take further action to ensure that all Metro workers have at least a $15 minimum wage and a clear and unobstructed path to unionization regardless of their particular employment classification.

No one who works should live in poverty.

New budget forecast shows Portland has more than enough money to raise all city workers to $15 NOW

In the weeks running up to Portland City Council’s unanimous vote to increase the city’s Fair Wage Policy to $15 per hour, as well as for full-time, permanent city workers, Mayor Hales justified the decision to leave out some 2,000 “casual” Parks Department workers by quoting Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” The implication being that if the city could afford to raise those workers to $15 right now too, they would do it. The other implication of course being that the city can’t afford to do it.

Even at the time the statement was made it wasn’t necessarily true. The cost of raising “casual” (part-time, temporary, and seasonal) city workers to $15 has been estimated at around $3 million annually. At the same time, as early as September of last year the city was projected to have a surplus of $9.3 million in one-time spending, and $4.6 million in on-going funds. In December the one-time spending surplus was revised up to $14.4 million.

Today, a new set of revised numbers was released showing that the city is actually likely to have a surplus of “$19.6 million in one-time resources and $11.5 million in on-going money to spend.”

Even if we assume it would cost $4 million to raise all “causal” parks workers to a $15 per hour minimum wage, the city is projected to have almost three times that in on-going money to spend.

We applaud Mayor Hales and the city council for their action on the Fair Wage Policy and on full-time, permanent city workers. But what is now clear is that where we are right now is sitting on huge budget surplus that provides more than enough money to pay all city workers $15 now, still leaving some $6 million in on-going and almost $20 million in one-time spending money available for other uses like road maintenance and expanding the $15 Fair Wage Policy even further.

Our tax dollars should not be used to pay poverty wages. It is unethical and it sends the message that the city does not value it’s employees and the work that they do to keep this city running. We have the opportunity and the means, right now in this next budget cycle, to ensure that everyone who works for the city either directly or indirectly is paid $15 Now.

We call on Mayor Hales and city council to use this continually-growing surplus to raise all city workers wages to $15 Now, to create more full-time union jobs with benefits in the parks department, and to expand the Fair Wage Policy to include grantees, stadium workers, Rose Quarter workers, and others who work for companies and non-profit organizations that get funding from the city.  We can afford to do this with what we have, where we are, right now.

There are no more excuses. Portland needs $15 Now.

 

Bill Introduced to Reduce Oregon’s Minimum Wage to Federal Level, Undermine Paid Sick Leave

A bill has been introduced by Oregon House Representative Cedric Hayden (R – District 7) that would reduce the the minimum wage for many workers in Oregon, potentially down to the level of the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour.

HB 3325 would allow a minimum wage worker’s total compensation to count as their total hourly pay. Total compensation means the total amount of money an employer puts towards a worker’s employment, including both hourly wages and any benefits offered by the employer.

What this means at the most basic level is that if an employer pays $1 into an employee’s health insurance benefit for every hour that employee works, then the employer would be allowed to pay the employee only $8.25 in hourly wages. Add the $1 in health benefit and the employee’s total compensation would be $9.25 per hour, which is Oregon’s current minimum wage.

If passed, HB 3325 would allow employers to count not only health insurance, but also retirement benefits toward the total compensation minimum wage. Also, in anticipation of the passage of a statewide paid sick leave law, the bill would allow employers to count paid sick days toward the minimum wage. Even if the statewide paid sick leave bill fails, workers in Portland and Eugene (both of which have passed citywide paid sick leave ordinances) would see their hourly wage reduced by the amount they are paid for days off of work when they are sick.

For working Oregonians who are already paid poverty wages by their employers, hourly wages will be reduced even further. In fact hourly wages could be reduced as low as the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

“provided that the amount of compensation payable in legal tender that is subject to deductions, charges or allowances is not lower than the federal minimum wage, as established under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.”

$9.25 is not enough in Oregon, it is a poverty wage in our state. $7.25 will drive hundreds of thousands of working Oregonians and their families even further into poverty. People will no longer be able to afford their rent, and they will be forced to incur the costs and stress of relocating, which will potentially make worker commutes even longer and more expensive. More working people in Oregon will have to rely on public benefits at an even greater cost than the more than $1.7 billion per year Oregon taxpayers already pay to subsidize the poverty wages paid by large multi-billion dollar corporations like Walmart and McDonalds.

But this bill is not only meant to reduce hourly wages for the most vulnerable working people, those who are already at the bottom of the wage scale. It is also designed to completely negate the paid sick leave ordinances in Portland and Eugene, as well as any potential statewide sick leave bill that may be passed into law. If HB 3325 passes, workers will in effect lose their pad sick time because the money they will be getting paid on a sick day off is actually be taken from their hourly wage during the rest of the year. Not only does the employer get forgo the cost of paying for sick days, but workers actually lose the benefit of getting paid and not falling behind in their budget when they have to stay home sick.

This is an underhanded, pro-big business bill that has to be stopped. We are likely to see other bills introduced in the coming days and weeks that will allow things such as tip-credits, training wages, and other pro-big business, wage-lowering schemes.

Low-wage workers, unions, community organizations, and other concerned Oregonians need to come together to fight the lowering of wages and the lower of standards of living in our state. We must prevent Democrats from passing bills like this as a “compromise” to gain Republican votes and big business acuquiecense on paid sick leave or minimum wage bills. After all, Democrats in Oregon have majorities in both houses. They don’t need Republican votes, and they don’t need big business approval. We must stop this bill and any others that seek to push working families in Oregon further into poverty for the sake of putting more money into the hands of already wealthy business owners, corporate CEOs, and shareholders.

Unite with us! Join 15 Now or make a donation to the campaign to help us not only stop this wage-lowering bill, but to help us raise Oregon’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. Because no one who works should live in poverty!

Portland NAACP, Rural Organizing Project, and Others Endorse $15

New and important endorsements for a $15 minimum wage in Oregon have been announced as the Portland NAACP, the Rural Organizing Project, and others have joined the Fight for $15 in Oregon.

Poverty and the lack of opportunity for advancement have long been among the systemic and structural obstacles faced by communities of color in the United States. Here in Oregon more than half of all working black people and over 45% of all working latinos are employed in low-wage industries that treat workers like lifeless, interchangeable, and disposable cogs in a profit churning machine. The NAACP understands that this is an issue of equity and income equality for communities of color, and today has taken a stand against systemic poverty by voting unanimously to endorse raising Oregon’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.

A recent report from the Labor Education Research Center at the University of Oregon shows that jobs in rural areas are more likely to be part-time, temporary, and low-wage than in metropolitan areas of the state. This means that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour will have an even bigger impact on the lives of working people in rural areas and will help lift up these regions of the state that are still reeling from massive job losses during the recession. Rural Organizing Project, “a statewide organization of locally-based groups that work to create communities accountable to a standard of human dignity” recognizes that $15 per hour is the bare minimum families in Oregon, even in rural parts of Oregon, need to get by and be self-sufficient.

Other recent endorsements have come from a variety of organizations including the Oregon School Employees Association Staff Union, CURRENTS of Justice for Equality, which is a group in La Grande that is associated with the Rural Organizing Project; United Steel Workers Local 8378 and United Steel Workers L&E Committee, Teamsters Joint Council 37, and Causa, the state’s leading immigrant rights organization. The Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Workers Action, University of Oregon Student Labor Action Project, and Oregon Center for Public Policy, which does research and analysis on income, tax, and economic issues, have also endorsed a $15 minimum wage for Oregon.

$15 has now been endorsed by almost 100 of the states leading labor, social, and economic justice organizations here in Oregon because it is recognized that $15 per hour is the bare minimum that an individual, let alone a family, needs in our state in order to survive and be self-sufficient. It is the bare minimum needed in order to pay for rent, bills, transportation, healthcare, childcare, and all the other necessary costs of living and working, without having to rely on tax payer subsidized public benefits. It is time we stop allowing large, multi-billion dollar corporations to profit off of subsidies from Oregon tax payers by allowing them to pay their workers poverty wages. Everyone who works deserves the dignity and respect of a living wage. No one who works should live in poverty.

Read the full list of unions, community organizations, political parties, and businesses that have endorsed a $15 minimum wage for Oregon.

There’s Oregon Precedent for a Big Minimum Wage Increase

by Chuck Sheketoff

If the Oregon legislature raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018 in three steps, as proposed by HB 2009, it would not be the first time lawmakers enact a substantial minimum wage increase.

In 1989, Oregon lawmakers raised the minimum wage, which then stood at $3.35. The result: By January 1, 1991, Oregon’s minimum wage was $4.75. That’s a 42 percent increase over two years. Oregon’s economy did well following the increase. That’s not to suggest causality, but rather to note that a substantial minimum wage increase can go hand-in-hand with solid economic growth.

In 1950, the federal minimum wage — which set the floor in Oregon at the time — jumped 88 percent, thanks to congressional action.

How do these historical increases from Congress and the Oregon legislature compare to the increase proposed in House Bill 2009?

OCPPimage

 

Over the first two years of implementing HB 2009’s phased increase, the minimum wage would rise 43 percent. When fully implemented on January 1, 2018, Oregon’s minimum wage would be 62 percent higher than it is today.

Too many working Oregonians are struggling to make ends meet. There’s precedent to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2018.


This post was originally published on Blue Oregon on February 20, 2015. 

Portland City Council Unanimously Passes $15 Fair Wage Policy

Community groups, labor unions, workers, and other supporters of a $15 minimum wage packed City Hall so full that the balcony had to be opened for overflow. They came out to testify at a Portland City Council hearing the city’s Fair Wage Policy, expressing their support for updating that policy to a $15 minimum wage.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman called the hearing and presented a resolution, co-sponsored by Mayor Hales, which amends the Fair Wage Policy to a $15 per hour minimum, and directs the Bureau of Human Services to develop a plan to assess the level of compensation for so-called “casual” workers.

hearing2

Passage of a $15 Fair Wage Policy would affect about 175 janitors, security guards, parking attendants and others who work for companies that contract with the City of Portland. Linda Sporer, who works at the Portland Building said, “As a security officer, I have a serious responsibility to keep people safe. When I get home, I have an added responsibility to do everything I can to support my family. This wage increase will make a real difference – giving me the resources to get ahead instead of barely getting by.”

Updating the Fair Wage Policy helps hard working people in Portland, and will be an important victory in the growing movement for a $15 minimum wage. “The Fair Wage Policy here in Portland is the first step in raising the minimum wage to $15, not only for all city workers, but for all who live and work in Portland,” says Tamara Kneese of 15 Now PDX.  

During his State of the City address Mayor Hales announced support for raising the Fair Wage Policy to $15, and also all permanent, full-time city workers. But the proposal leaves out 1800 so-called “casual” parks department employees who are working less than full-time hours, on poverty wages. In fact, much of the public testimony focused on this next phase of the local Fight for $15, as speaker after speaker lined up to demand that so-called “casual” city workers not be left out.

hearing1

One of these so-called “casual” employees is Icarus Jacoby Smith, who works at the Mount Scott Community Center, “Part-time seasonal workers are an integral part of the Parks Department.  We are here making sure that the parks, pools, and facilities are kept safe and enjoyable year-round.  I think it’s time our wages reflect a certain level of recognition for the work we do in this community.” 

At the hearing 15 Now PDX, Portland Jobs with Justice, SEIU Local 49, which represents workers affected by the Fair Wage Policy, and LiUNA Local 483, which represents parks workers, showed support for the Mayor’s plan, but called on the City Commissioners to set up a contingent workers task force to produce a concrete plan for creating more full-time jobs that would be covered under the currently proposed $15 minimum wage for city workers, to redefine “casual” to be more accurate and limited in use, and to raise the minimum wage to $15 for all city workers regardless of their classification or number of hours worked.

Public testimony on the issue lasted for hours as community members, union and community organization representatives, faith leaders, and low-wage workers spoke out in favor of a $15 minimum wage for contract workers, city workers, and for all working people in the City of Portland. Not one person spoke in opposition. 

During the hearing, Commissioner Fritz introduced a number of amendments to the council resolution. Among those amendments was one to limit the increase to $15 in the Fair Wage Policy to full-time contract workers only (in addition to 18 full-time, permanent city workers that are separate from the Fair Wage Policy), and another to ensure the contingent worker task force will be finished with its work in time for the next budget cycle. She also announced plans to amend her current budget request to include a $15 minimum wage for all seasonal city maintenance workers starting in their second year of employment.

15 Now PDX opposes any attempt to limit the $15 minimum wage to full-time workers only, but also applauds Commissioner Fritz for championing a $15 minimum wage for seasonal maintenance workers.

At the end of the hearing, the City Council voted unanimously to raise the city’s Fair Wage Policy to $15 per hour. Justin Norton-Kertson, organizer for 15 Now PDX said in response, “This is a huge victory for the Fight for $15 here in Portland, in the State of Oregon, and across the country. We applaud the Mayor and commissioners for pushing this through, and we call on them to continue working to ensure $15 now for all city workers.”

WIN

Make no mistake. This victory comes as the result of a hard-fought, grassroots, bottom up campaign of low-wage city workers and activists coming together, building coalitions, and building a movement with the strength to push our city council to action. Commissioner Fish said himself, “We’re here because the community has spoken,” specifically citing the work of 15 Now PDX, Jobs with Justice, and other partners who worked together to win this the Fair Wage Policy victory.

And that battle for the Fair Wage Policy has now been won. It is a great first step for the Fight for $15 here in Portland. But it is one battle, one step. We still have much more work to do. There are contractors and part-timers who have been left out of the revised Fair Wage Policy that need to be included. We need to win $15 for all city workers, for all working people in the City of Portland, and for the whole State of Oregon.

We can win these victories, but we need your help to do it! Become a volunteer today, or make a donation to the campaign fund and help us continue the Fight for $15. With your help we can win even bigger victories for Oregon’s working class!

Great Progress for Oregon Workers: Who Would be Affected by Raising the State Minimum Wage to $15 by 2018?

)Compiled and first published by the Oregon Center for Public Policy)

Raising Oregon’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2018, a proposal currently before the legislature, would constitute great progress for Oregon working families.[1]

Here are preliminary estimates of the impact of the proposed raise:[2]

Number of workers helped: By 2018, about 589,000 workers would likely see their wages rise directly as a result of the increase.[3] At the same time, another 114,000 workers earning above $15 would also likely see their wages increase indirectly as employers adjust overall pay ladders.

Total wages gains: As a group, workers benefiting directly and indirectly[4] from the increase would gain about $3.2 billion in additional wages during the three-year implementation period.

Workers’ gains: The gains of particular workers due to raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour would depend, of course, on their current hourly wage and number of hours worked. At the high end of the range, Oregonians currently earning the minimum wage of $9.25 and working 35 hours per week would gain $10,465 in yearly income, or $872 per month, assuming their work hours stay the same.[5]

Families with children helped: About a third of all workers directly benefiting from the increase have children. Among all single-parent workers in the state, almost half (47 percent) would experience wage gains directly as a result of the minimum wage increase.

Age of workers helped: Among workers directly affected by the increase, about 93 percent would be 20 years or older. About three-quarters (74 percent) would be 25 years of age or older. About two out of five (39 percent) would be 40 years of age or older.

Gender of workers helped: Among workers directly affected by the increase, about 53 percent would be women and 47 percent would be men.

Full-time workers helped: About 61 percent of workers who would gain a raise would be full-time workers, defined as 35 hours or more worked per week. Another 30 percent of those helped would be Oregonians working between 20 and 34 hours per week.

College-educated helped: Among those directly affected by the increase, about 55 percent would have at least some college education. About 16 percent would have a college degree or higher.

[1] HB 2009 would raise Oregon’s minimum wage from the current $9.25 to $15 hour in three steps: $11.50 in 2016, $13.25 in 2017, and $15 in 2018.

[2] Unless otherwise noted, these estimates come from analysis by the Economic Policy Institute of Current Population Survey, Outgoing Rotation Group public use microdata, 2013Q4-2014Q3.

[3] Directly affected workers would see their wages rise because the new minimum wage rate would exceed their current hourly pay.

[4] Indirectly affected workers are those whose wages are not far above the proposed new minimum wage. They would receive a raise as employer s adjust pay scales upward in response to the new minimum wage.

[5] OCPP analysis.

End Poverty Wages