But a group pushing for a higher minimum wage said a rate of $13.50 is closer to self-sufficiency.
At the campaign launch, the coalition released a report by Our Oregon showing that a minimum wage of $13.50 per hour is needed to provide a base income for Oregon’s rural counties. All three of the latter cities have approved local ordinances to raise the minimum wage over time to $15 an hour, but Oregon’s legislature passed a law in 2001 barring local jurisdictions from passing higher local minimum wages.
Raise the Wage Oregon takes up where a substantially similar coalition, Fair Shot Oregon, left off. Raising the minimum wage was one of five proposals Fair Shot Oregon took to the Oregon Legislature in the session that ran from February to early July 2015.
The effort is competing with a separate group, 15 Now, which advocates a $15 statewide minimum wage, without an option for cities to set their own. In the coming weeks, the coalition will bring the conversation about raising the wage to communities across the state.
The typical minimum wage worker isn’t a teenager living with her parents.
Supporters argue people earning $9.25 an hour simply can’t make enough to support their families.
Since 1996 Oregon’s minimum wage rate has been steadily increasing.
“My employees are my most important asset, and it makes good business sense to take care of them”, said Field, co-owner of Paperjam Press in Northeast Portland.
Over 600,000 Oregonians are now employed in low-wage work: roughly one-third of the state’s total workforce.
During the 2015 legislative session, Oregon’s elected officials failed to move forward with proposals to raise the state’s minimum wage.
Unlike the 2015 session, when individual organizations had multiple priorities, Miller said raising the minimum wage will be a focal point in 2016.
Kotek said legislators didn’t have enough time to focus on the minimum wage because of the crush of other issues.
Canvassers for “Raise the Wage” will head out Saturday to Portland, Salem, Coos Bay, Bend, Eugene and Pendleton to talk to people about lobbying their local legislators. In Portland, they will start at 10 a.m.at the AFL-CIO office, 3645 S.E. 32nd Ave.
Last month, Los Angeles said it would increase the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15 by 2020.
Labor groups in the coalition include the Oregon AFL-CIO, SEIU, Oregon Education Association, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, AFSCME, and the Oregon Nurses Association.