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SB 610 and HB 2009 strengthen working families, boost buying power of millions of Oregonians, power local economy and help small businesses grow
(Salem, Ore.)—The Senate Committee on Workforce and the House Committee on Business and Labor tonight held a joint public hearing on several legislative proposals that would raise the minimum wage in Oregon. Senate Bill 610, co-sponsored by Senator Shields of Portland and Representative Gorsek of Troutdale, and House Bill 2009, sponsored by Representative Nosse of Portland, were among those considered. Both bills would raise the wage to $15 per hour by 2018.
“By giving our workers a raise, we will ensure all Oregonians get a fair shot at a better life while boosting the buying power of consumers across the state," said Representative Nosse, sponsor of the bill. "It's a win-win for working families and our local economy.”
More than 200 people turned out to the hearing with a strong showing among supporters of SB 610 and HB 2009—including workers, business owners, economic analysts, community members, organizations, and more.
A broad coalition submitted testimony in support of the bills, including: Tom Chamberlain, President of the Oregon AFL-CIO; Rob Sisk, President of SEIU Local 503; Kasil Kapriel, a single-working mom from Portland; Stephen Michael, Oregon State Director for the Main Street Alliance; and Daniel Morris, Research Director for Our Oregon.
“Raising Oregon’s minimum wage to $15 will really help our families who are struggling to get ahead," said Andrea Paluso, Executive Director of Family Forward Oregon and Co-Chair of the Fair Shot For All Coalition. "For the working mom who's been paid minimum wage for over a decade without a raise, change cannot come fast enough. It’s time for elected officials to make us a priority and give Oregonians a much-needed raise."
The High Cost of Low Wages in Oregon, a report from the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) released earlier this year, found that 197,000 Oregonians who received public assistance in January 2014 worked the previous year. And the cost of providing this assistance falls on taxpayers who provide $1.7 billion each year to subsidize corporations’ reliance on a low-wage workforce.
Currently, one in four Oregon workers brings home less than $25,000 each year. Women and people of color make up the largest percentage of our low-wage workforce. In Oregon, women represent more than half of minimum wage workers while people of color make up about 36 percent.
“It is difficult to balance the needs of my three kids with a full-time job where I make only $9.25 an hour,” said Kasil Kapriel, a single-working mom from Portland. "If we raised the minimum wage to $15, I would be able to pay my rent on time and save for my children’s education.”
Small business owners have joined working Oregonians from across the state in calling on the legislature to pass a higher minimum wage.
"Better wages make for more satisfied, more motivated, and overall more productive employees," said Mark Kellenbeck, Co-owner of BrainJoy in Medford, and Co-Chair of The Main Street Alliance of Oregon. "We have consistently found that better wages both attract and retain superior employees."
According to a study released last week by the Oregon Center for Public Policy, raising Oregon’s minimum wage to $15 per hour could boost the bottom line of small businesses, a sector that has enjoyed growth even after substantial wage hikes over the years.
Both bills now await work sessions in their respective committees.