MSN Media – Portland Small Business – Endorses $15/hr Minimum Wage

When the idea of a $15 minimum wage came up Matt Navarre, owner of MSN Media, a local small business here in Portland, thought it was a no brainer. He said in a very straightforward manner,

The current minimum wage is not even close to a living wage. People have to be able to pay their bills and survive.

MSN Media has taken on three employees so far, and also uses several contractors to create custom software for public heath and other Multnomah County and the State of Oregon government agencies, as well as private company clients. All employees and contractors who work for MSN Media make at least $15 per hour, and all employees are provided with health insurance through the company. In fact, the lowest paid employee, a trainee, starts at $15/hr. msn_logo_03b Navarre says that it is not just a matter of whether his company can afford to pay a living wage, but that as a business owner who has chosen to grow his business by taking on employees paying a living wage is his responsibility. When asked about this sense of responsibility and why he endorses a $15/hr minimum wage for all all workers in the City of Portland and the State of Oregon, Navarre reiterated,

We support a raise in the minimum wage to $15 because the current minimum is not close to a living wage. As an employer, part of my responsibility is to look after the fiscal health of my staff, and ensure they have a living wage. 

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Matt Navarre – Owner of MSN Media

Navarre says he sees the benefit that paying a living wage has on his own staff, and he believes that a $15/hr minimum wage for the whole city will benefit both his own business and the workers of Portland:

This will benefit my business, the happiness of my staff, and the citizens of Portland. The higher wage will give me a greater pool of people to hire as future employees, and a wider, better range of potential clients.

In this comment Navarre touches on some of the myths and propaganda that has been created by Big Business to elicit fear at the thought of raising the minimum wage, primarily the scapegoating of small businesses. We are told that raising the minimum wage will be bad for small businesses, that they will be forced to move to neighboring cities with lower wages, or else close down. Either way jobs will be lost.

But Navarre understands the when the minimum wage is increased, the outcome is actually the opposite of the doomsday scenarios painted by Big Business in their attempts to amass and cling to the wealth created by their workers. He understands that when employees are paid well they perform better and increase their productivity, which saves companies money. He gets that when workers make a living wage they can pay their bills and have extra money to spend. He knows that this benefits local businesses and increases their sales and profits. He understands that a $15/hr living wage is good for everyone. It is good for workers, it is good for businesses, and it will be good for the whole City of Portland and the whole State of Oregon.

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LiUNA! Laborers’ Local 483 Endorse $15 for Portland & Oregon!

 

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Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), which is union of construction workers and other public service employees, has half a million members and is considered to be “the most progressive, aggressive and fastest-growing union of construction workers, and one of the most diverse and effective unions representing public service employees.”

In May of 2014 LiUNA organized the most successful Living Wage Wednesdays that Portland has seen so far. 75-100 people marched to City Hall, chanted “15 Now!,” engaged in guerrilla street theater, and went into City Hall to deliver letters in support of a $15/hr minimum wage to the City Commissioners.

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For months now Oregon Zoo workers represented by Local 483 have been demanding a $15/hr minimum wage in their first contract negotiations with Metro.

And last night, working with 15 Now PDX, rank and file zoo worker-members of Laborers’ Local 483 introduced a resolution endorsing 15 Now PDX and the Fight for $15 in Oregon. The resolution passed with unanimous support. When the floor was opened for discussion of the resolution, the only comment offered came as a shout from somewhere in the crowd of laborers, “It’s about time!” Read the text of the resolution here.

We at 15 Now PDX are excited and look forward to continuing our support for the Zoo workers, as well as working with LiUNA to build a strong coalition of union and non-unionized labor, economic and social justice advocacy groups, and community members to win a $15/hr minimum wage in the city of Portland and the state of Oregon.

Photo Credit: Pete Shaw

Activist Show Path to Increasing Minimum Wage; City Council Stands Still

Just how unpalatable the Portland City Council finds 15 Now PDX, the activist group working to raise Portland’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, was made known about a half hour prior to the council session on June 11. One City Hall official approached about 20 of the group’s members who were rallying outside the building just prior to the 9:30 meeting and informed them that “people in red shirts have to sit upstairs.” When one of those persons in a red shirt told the official that he did not appreciate being told his constitutional rights did not matter, the official quickly backed off.  A few minutes later, 20 seats on the floor of the City Council chamber were occupied by people wearing red shirts and holding 15 Now PDX signs.

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Photo Credit: Pete Shaw

Justin Norton-Kertson, co-founder of 15 Now PDX, presented the council with 1,000 signatures of Portland citizens who support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. During his testimony, Norton-Kertson noted the escalating cost of living in Portland–rents and groceries up 4.5% and 3.5% respectively last year, with that rent increase following a 4.9% surge from 2011 to 2012–that has made living in the city difficult for many of its wage earners.

Oregon’s minimum wage currently stands at $9.10 an hour. While it is one of the highest in the country, it clearly is not enough to sustain a minimum wage worker supporting her family while living in Portland. Norton-Kertson cited a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition that determined a single mother earning the minimum wage in Portland would have to work 78 hours per week to afford a two bedroom apartment to adequately house her and her children. In order to afford that apartment on one 40 hour per week job, she would need to draw $17.73 an hour.

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Did Portland Business Journal Alter Its $15 Minimum Wage Poll Results?

Last week, following the news of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage victory the conservative, corporate-friendly online publication, Portland Business Journal (PBJ), began running a poll which asked whether Portland should follow Seattle’s $15 minimum wage lead. Then on the morning of June 10 the poll was altered in a number of ways. The question asked in the poll changed, and is appears that the results of the poll were altered as well. 

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 11.27.16 AMWhen the poll was first published it asked if Portland should follow Seattle’s lead and adopt a $15 minimum wage.

There were two answers to chose from: 1) Yes the current $9.10 minimum wage is too low, and 2) No it will be too big a burden for business. However, on June 10 a new article was written and added to this poll that changed the question being asked. The article explained that they had changed the question of the poll to ask if Oregon, rather than just Portland, should follow Seattle’s lead. Their reasoning is that they suddenly learned about the state’s minimum wage preemption law, and so since Portland can’t raise the minimum wage (which is not entirely true at all), PBJ was changing the question to include the whole state.

The problem with this is that by changing the question of the poll after almost a week of responses, they are skewing the poll. Over 600 people voted in the poll before the question was altered. Those people thought they were voting in a poll about Portland specifically, not about Oregon in general. To alter the question in the middle of a poll like that, and then encourage people  to continue voting gives us a poll with results that are at best extremely questionable. This is an extremely unethical surprise from a publication trying to pass itself off as professional journalism.

What is even worse and possibly more unethical is that it appears the results of the poll itself were changed at the same time that the question was altered. By June 8 with close to 600 votes, the yes votes led the poll 54-44% with 2% voting “other.” By the next day, June 9, the vote total had reached over 600, and the no’s had gained a bit ground,  but yes still led by 8%. We don’t have screenshots to prove that. But we don’t need them to show that the poll was altered. We do have a screen shot from June 7, when there 533 votes and the yes votes were leading 52-48%, and we have a screen shot from the morning of June 10 when the poll question and results were altered. These two screen shots are more than enough to show without doubt that the results were in some way changed, and that the new result of the 80% of respondents being against raising the minimum wage to $15 is not even mathematically possible.

bizjournpollIn this first screen shot right above, taken on June 7, you can see that the yes votes were leading the poll by 52-48%. In the next screen shot shown below, you see a close up of the vote total, which stood at 533 votes.

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Next we’ll show you the screen shot from the morning of June 10. You can see that there are now 626 votes, and the no votes are way in the lead at 83-14%. How is it possible that with less than 100 votes added between the times of the two screen shots, that the results could shift so dramatically? With just a bit of simple math we’ll see that it is actually impossible.

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In the first screen shot the no’s have 48% of 533 votes, which is a total of 255.48 votes (.48 x 533 = 255.48). So we’ll be nice and round up, and say that there were 256 no votes.

In the second screen shot on June 10, with 93 total votes having been added, the no’s are shown to have 83% of 626 total votes. That means that apparently “no” had a total of 520 votes. (.83 x 626 = 519.58 rounded up to 520). The no answer had 256 votes. Then with only 93 total votes had been added to the poll, the no votes somehow magically gained 264 votes (520 no votes in screen shot 2 minus 256 no votes in screen shot 1 = 264 new no votes). That means that somehow the no votes gained almost 3 times more votes than the number of total new votes that had actually been cast. For every vote shown to be cast in the poll, the no answer somehow magically gained three votes. It isn’t possible.

The Portland Business Journal needs to explain this discrepancy, and it needs to provide evidence for it’s explanation. Otherwise there are very few conclusions from which to draw about the ethics and journalistic credentials of the publication because as it stands, it very much looks like someone at PBJ altered the results because they didn’t like that the majority of respondents were voting yes for a $15 minimum wage.

 

Congrats San FranAnother HUGE victory, this time in San Francisco!! Mayor Ed Lee just announced a plan to gradually bump San Francisco’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018 and tie it to future inflation!! Inflation only eats about $.25 per year, so $15 by 2018 would be the equivalent of about $14 an hour today. He was backed with support from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, labor unions, nonprofit groups and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. The plan will go into place as long as voters approve it in a vote this November, as they are expected to. Share this to show your support!!

Read more here: http://bit.ly/1nxkpaY
Image by the campaign to Raise The Minimum Wage.

Help us bring a $15 minimum wage to Portland and the whole state of Oregon by volunteering with 15 Now PDX or donating to the campaign today!

Photo Credit: Hyung Kyu Nam

15 Now PDX Delivers 1,000 signatures to Portland City Council

As community members and supporters  of a $15 minimum wage filed into Portland City Hall this morning, security tried to inform them that they were to sit up in the balcony even though there was plenty of room on the main floor. After being reminded that making such a demand was a clear violation of constitutionally protected free speech, the security guard quickly stepped aside and let people into the main room of the council chamber.

At today’s city council meeting, 15 Now PDX organizer Justin Norton-Kertson gave public testimony on the need for a $15/hr minimum wage in the city of Portland. During his testimony, he described the rapidly rising cost of living in Portland, costs that are increasing at more than twice the national rate of inflation. A recent study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition was cited, which found that a single mother in Portland has to work 78 hours per week at the current minimum wage  in order to attain even the most basic level economic security that would allow her to provide adequate housing for her and her children.

He pointed out that a 40 hour per week job at a $15 minimum wage would be just enough to give those families that basic level of economic security that they need.

Photo Credit: Hyung Kyu Nam
Photo Credit: Hyung Kyu Nam

Norton-Kertson also encouraged the council members to publicly endorse and actively work for a $15 minimum wage in Portland by raising the minimum wage for all city workers and city contractor employees, and by implementing a Living Wage Tax. The tax, which was proposed by Nicholas Caleb during his recent campaign for city council, would fine large corporations and other businesses in Portland that do not pay their employees a $15 minimum wage. The money collected would then be used to help subsidize wage increases for low wage workers in Portland.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz replied that she has researched the idea of raising the minimum wage for the 2,000 city workers who make less than $15/hr within her Bureau of Parks and Recreation. However, she said it would cost the city $2.7 million, and suggested that the price tag was too high when that money could be used for street maintenance, or to provide a few dozen more full time jobs with benefits within the department.

Mayor Charlie Hales also replied, stating that  “We don’t like preemptions in general and we don’t like this one either.” He also clearly noted, one could even say pledged that getting the state’s minimum wage preemption law repealed is going to be on the city’s legislative agenda for this coming year’s state legislative session. 

Norton-Kertson thanked the council for taking up the issue of the preemption law at the state level, and told the council that 15 Now PDX looks forward to continuing the conversation with them about raising the minimum wage in Portland to $15. He offered the council the suggestion that if they are able to so easily cut through all the red tape and raise the tax money necessary to get all the city’s new development projects underway, that surely they could cut through similar red tape to ensure that everyone in Portland who works makes a $15/hr living wage. He closed out his testimony by asking if anyone on the council was ready to endorse $15 Now for Portland. None of the council members took up the invitation.

15 Now PDX meets with Commissioner Dan Saltzman tomorrow afternoon to further discuss a $15 minimum wage for Portland and action to repeal the state’s minimum wage preemption law.

But we can not rely on politicians to do the work for us. If we do we are likely to get a $15 that is full of corporate loopholes. We need to continue building the grassroots, working class power and strength that can fight the money and propaganda of big business and win a strong $15 for our city! Can you volunteer or make a contribution to 15 Now PDX to help us build that movement?

15 Now PDX speaks at Portland City Council, Wednesday at 9:30am

For immediate release
June 10, 2014

15 Now PDX speaks at Portland City Council, Wednesday at 9:30am

PORTLAND, Oregon—Portlanders who support a $15 an hour minimum wage will come out to the Living Wage Wednesday rally at City Hall this Wednesday at at 9am and then go into the City Council chambers for 15 Now PDXs public communication at the City Council meeting at 9:30am. 15 Now PDX organizer Justin Norton-Kertson will be presenting almost 1,000 signatures supporting a fifteen dollar per hour minimum wage to the council, and will be communicating to the council what they can do to raise Portland’s minimum wage to $15/hour right now, despite the state’s preemption law.

“Seattle has set a new standard for cities across the nation, a standard by which those who live and work in a community can afford to pay their rent, feed their kids, and even have a small bit of financial security that allows them to patronize small, local businesses,” says Justin Norton-Kertson, a co-founder of 15 Now PDX. “We need immediate action on this in Portland. There are things our city council can do right now. The rent can’t wait.”

Building on local, regional, and national momentum, 15 Now PDX is holding the Living Wage Wednesday rally and City Council testimony at City Hall this Wednesday, June 11th at 9:00 a.m. to bring further attention to the issue and to demand $15 for Portland. Kertson and other members of 15 Now are also meeting with City Commissioner Dan Saltzman this week about raising the minimum wage in Portland.

Living Wage Wednesday Rally and 15 NOW PDX City Council Testimony
Wednesday June 11
Rally 9:00 a.m. Testimony 9:30am
Portland City Hall
SW 4th and Madison

For more information go to: http://www.15nowpdx.org

Come Celebrate the 15NOW Seattle Win

Seattle has now become the first major U.S. city to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage. This historic achievement was the result of a powerful grassroots movement built from the bottom up.  Join us for the PDX celebration and fundraiser
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The message is clear: When we organize we can win!  Join us to Celebrate and Invite everyone you know who wants to build a better Portland:

Democracy Now : Seattle’s Socialist City Council Member Kshama Sawant Hails Historic Vote For $15/Hour Minimum Wage

A year ago no one thought a $15 minimum wage was possible, and Seattle would not have just passed it without all the hard work done to build that grassroots movement that had the power to force the establishment to accept $15. Clearly the bill that Seattle got has loopholes and things that need to be fixed, but that takes nothing away from the fact that $15 has been won in Seattle, and that this victory is creating a wave of excitement and momentum throughout the country. Join us as we celebrate this victory, as well discuss how Seattle won, and how we can build an even stronger grassroots, working class movement here in Portland that has the power to win a $15 minimum wage without corporate loopholes .

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15 WON? Yes, But Not Now…Eventually

It is important for any movement to take stock of it’s accomplishments, and certainly the fact that today Seattle’s city council voted unanimously to phase in a $15 minimum wage for the city qualifies as an accomplishment worthy of recognition. At the same time we need to recognize and discuss the fact that the deal struck in Seattle is so full of corporate loopholes and set backs that declarations of victory may be premature if not backed up by a continued, active fight to close those loopholes and make the the deal in Seattle $15…Now.

It is a huge accomplishment that the council of one of the biggest cities in the country voted unanimously to implement a $15 minimum wage. It will undoubtedly inspire people across the country to join the Fight for $15 and start 15 Now chapters in their own cities and states. It also ups the bar in the face of those in the Democratic Party who are running around the country trying to pawn off $10.10 as an actual living wage. Despite the overly long and sometimes needless phase in periods, in 2015 the wages of Seattle’s low wage workers will start going up and making their way toward $15. In this sense the vote in Seattle today is a big accomplishment that will invigorate an already rapidly growing movement. That is worthy of taking a moment to celebrate. The Fight for $15, indeed working class struggle in general is a long and protracted fight. We need moments of celebration to energize us and give us the strength to continue the daily and difficult work of changing the system.

Even while we should acknowledge and celebrate this accomplishment there are so many problems with the deal in Seattle that declarations of victory seem somewhat premature and have left many people feeling justifiably deflated.

  • Corporations that make billions of dollars in annual profits don’t need years to phase in. While it is true that under this deal the minimum wage for many of Seattle’s low wage workers will rise to $11 per hour in less than one year, the fact is that large corporations can afford to pay $15 now, but they are not paying $15 for a few years.
  • Tip credits and health care credits actually reduce workers’ real wages that can be used to buy food and pay rent. Even if eventually phased out, these credits mean that at first there are likely to be some workers who actually see a decrease in their monthly net pay.
  • Lower “training wages” could encourage companies to move to a model of short-term temporary labor in order to take advantage of the lower short-term rate of pay, especially among large, low- wage-paying corporations that already have high employee turnover.
  • The sub-minimum wage for teenagers fails to help the many teens in Seattle who work not for extra spending money, but because their family needs the income extra income to help pay the rent and the bills.
  • Categorizing businesses with up to 500 employees as “small” for the purpose of the phase in schedule is ludicrous.

So while those of us within the $15 Now movement who have worked hard justifiably want to celebrate the accomplishment of getting a large city like Seattle to pass a bill for $15, we also need to be open and honest about the fact that the workers of Seattle themselves are not getting $15 Now, they are getting $15 Eventually, in about a decade.  While we allow ourselves a moment to celebrate what we have accomplished so far, we also need to make certain we recognize the fact that even in Seattle, and certainly in the rest of the country, the Fight for $15 is far from over.

In Seattle, 15 Now has already responded to the deal with a letter outlining a couple of the more serious problems that need to be fixed. In addition to that first step, the signature gathering effort for a ballot measure that will close the corporate loopholes needs to continue in order to send the message that the working class will continue to struggle and will not just settle for watered down, corporate approved comprises. The working class has comprised and been beaten down enough. With this recent accomplishment now more than ever, it is time to continue fighting.

Outside of Seattle, here in Portland and throughout the rest of country, we need not only to continue building our grassroots, working class power, but we must begin in earnest conversations about how we can avoid the pitfalls and corporate loopholes encountered in Seattle. We need to learn from the experience of Seattle in order to ensure that as the movement grows and spreads it truly is a movement for 15 Now, not 15 Eventually.

Big Business spent a lot of money to ensure those corporate loopholes made it into the Seattle City Council’s $15 bill. We need your help fight and ensure that we avoid the same corporate loopholes here in Portland. Donate to 15 Now PDX and volunteer today so we can fight the Big Business attacks on Portland’s working class!

 

 

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