Published On: Fri, Jun 10th, 2016

Oregon minimum wage debate returns as 15 Now protest causes unrest and projected job loss

While the minimum wage for Oregon residents will rise to $12.50 in rural Oregon, $13.50 in mid-size regions and $14.75 in greater Portland, all by the year 2022. That said, Democrats in the Oregon House, Senate and governor’s office, announced they wanted to change the new March bill that was moved through in a five-week legislative session despite Republican opposition.

When Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a minimum wage bill into law in March thinking that the statewide hike would quell outrage, but that’s not the case.

photo screenshot of Bernie Sanders campaign ad

photo screenshot of Bernie Sanders campaign ad

“They just wanted to pass something,” said economist Eric Fruits, a Portland Republican. “They were really worried about the 15 Now people sending something to the ballot, and I think they got so snakebit they would have passed anything that was called a minimum wage increase.”

Labor unions, spearheaded by the S.E.I.U., had been collecting signatures for a $15 statewide wage initiative and hoping to build on recent victories in several cities.

Oregon will already have the highest statewide wage floor in the U.S. State analysts concluded in a prepared forecast the high wage will “result in approximately 40,000 fewer jobs in 2025 than would have been the case absent the legislation.”


Fox News notes that rural counties threatened to file a lawsuit against the state, calling the minimum wage a maximum mess and an unfunded mandate. Oregon’s constitution allows local governments to opt out of state programs that raise costs significantly and are not funded by the legislature.

Democrats promised a fix-it bill next year allowing for a lower training wages for young workers and some new hires, but low wage worker activists and some Democrats fear a loophole that will be abused.

“I think having a sub-minimum wage, while it might sound good, could end up hurting the very people we’re trying to help,” said Democratic state Senator Diane Rosenbaum.

Republican leaders support the fixes, including a possible exemption for some Eastern Oregon farmers who, if nothing changes, will have to pay $5 more per hour for labor than their competitors across the state line in Idaho.

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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