FIGHT FOR $15 IN PORTLAND AND OREGON!
15 Now PDX is fighting to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in the City of Portland. We are also helping to lead a coalition of over 100 of over 100 15 Now chapters, labor unions, community and faith organizations, and small businesses across the state that are fighting to make Oregon the first state to enact a $15 minimum wage.
Big business is not just going to let it happen. They do not support a $15 minimum wage. They certainly can afford it, but they want to put as much money in their own pockets as possible.
- Walmart made $17 billion in profit in 2013 and their CEO earns $6,898 per hour, 779 times the average worker’s wage.
- McDonald’s earned $5.59 billion in profit in 2013, and their CEO makes over $9,000 per hour.
- Starbucks earned $1.7 billion in profit in 2013 and their CEO earns also earns over $9,000 per hour.
These companies are only profitable because their employees work hard to make and sell products, to keep the stores cleaned and organized. Without the workers, these companies wouldn’t make a dime. Meanwhile the workers make minimum wage or close to it and live in poverty.
NO ONE WHO WORKS SHOULD LIVE IN POVERTY!
With such high profit margins, and ridiculously high salaries for those at the top, such companies can easily afford to pay a $15 living minimum wage to their lowest paid workers. It is time that we demand they do!
All over the country the fight for a $15 minimum wage has begun. From New York, Philidelphia, and Tampa Bay to Columbus, OH, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Portland, workers are rising up and demanding a living wage. In Chicago, 87% of voters just approved an advisory referendum to raise the minimum wage to $15.
Closer to home here in the Pacific Northwest, SeaTac and Seattle recently became the first two cities to pass a $15 per hour living minimum wage. Hotel workers and school employees in Los Angeles won $15. And this past election, San Francisco voters approved a $15 minimum wage with more than 77% of the vote.
Even right here in our own back yard, Home Forward (formerly the Portland Housing Authority) employees, and seasonal park rangers just won contracts with a $15 minimum wage, and Multnomah county employees have also won a contract victory for $15. Most recently, after a year of grassroots pressure the City of Portland has implemented a $15 Fair Wage Policy for all full-time city workers and hundreds of workers at private companies that contract with the city.
Not only is $15 gaining momentum, but it is the right number. Both the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Alliance for a Just Society have published studies showing that a living wage in the state of Oregon is at least $15 per hour.
With all this momentum already being gathered, now is the time for the working class of Portland and Oregon to come together to begin a sustained, bottom-up push for a $15 per hour minimum wage. Now is the time to take to the streets and to our halls of government to pressure our City Council and our state legislature to act for the betterment of businesses, workers, and all the residents of the City of Portland. Now is the time for us to build towards a ballot measure for $15 when our political representatives fail to come through.
A minimum wage of $15 per hour will benefit the whole city of Portland, not just those who make minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage puts more money in the hands of those who have to spend all the money they make. When you make the bare minimum it is hard to save for a rainy day. When workers have more money they spend it, and so businesses have more customers. Sales increase which leads to more production, more profit, and more hiring. In this way raising the minimum wage provides an economic boost that will benefit the entire City of Portland.
Raising the minimum wage also benefits taxpayers. When workers are paid a decent and dignified wage, when workers are paid what they are worth then they don’t need to rely on SNAP benefits and other government assistance programs to help them and their families survive. This alleviates strain on the public budget, and free’s up public resources for things other than subsidizing corporate America’s low-wages, poor job benefits, and exorbitant executive salaries.
Precisely because the profitability and success of big business is so dependant upon paying pitifully low wages, we can expect a big push back against the fight for $15. Groups such as the Portland Business Alliance and the Restaurant Association will invariably do everything in their wealth and power to kill this effort where it stands.
The only way we can stand in victory against the wealth and power of big business and their political allies is from the ground up. We must build a massive grassroots campaign that brings together our whole community from neighborhoods, unions, and student groups to local businesses, activists, and community organizations to participate in town hall meetings, mass rallies, and strikes to demand $15 NOW!