Mike Westling
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Raising the wage remains as unfinished business of the 2015 legislative session

Salem, Ore. – With Sine Die expected in the next several days, the Fair Shot for All coalition today called the 2015 legislative session “one of the most significant sessions in recent history for Oregon’s working families,” with four major policy solutions enacted into law.

In 2014, more than 20 community and labor groups formed a coalition with the goal of passing real policy solutions aimed at fixing our broken economy and giving all Oregonians a fair shot at success.  Together, Fair Shot for All identified five key policy priorities for the 2015 legislative session:

  • Expand access to paid sick days
  • Establish a secure way to save for the future
  • “Ban the box“ to create job opportunities for people with prior convictions and arrests
  • End police profiling based on race, gender and sexual orientation
  • Raise the minimum wage

As the 2015 session comes to a close, the Oregon Legislature has approved four of these five policies, marking significant progress toward economic security for working families. The sole priority still outstanding is raising Oregon’s minimum wage.

“The power of Fair Shot for All comes from its members: working families, small business owners, and community leaders from all over the state who have been calling for real solutions that will give every Oregonian an opportunity to succeed,”said Andrea Miller, executive director of Causa. “Throughout the 2015 legislative session, they showed up at hearings, met with legislators, made phone calls, wrote letters, and rallied in cities across the state. They shared their stories and made the case for change. They made their voices heard in Salem and elected officials responded.”

 Despite several legislative successes for working Oregonians, the state’s elected leaders have failed to take action to raise the wage as the 2015 session comes to a close.  Today in Oregon, a full-time worker with a minimum wage job is paid less than $20,000 per year, leaving thousands of Oregonians working hard but still unable to make ends meet.

“We achieved significant progress for working families this session, but our work is far from over,” said Andrea Paluso, executive director of Family Forward Oregon. "While the legislature’s failure to act to raise the wage is disappointing, we will continue pushing our elected officials to take actions that create an economy that works for all of us. Raising the minimum wage will give more Oregonians a chance to be self-sufficient and to better provide for themselves and their children. These families simply can't afford to wait much longer."

Contrary to popular belief, the typical minimum wage worker in Oregon isn’t a teenager living with their parents. A 2015 study from the Labor Education and Research Center at the University of Oregon reported that the average age of minimum wage workers is 35. The study also reported that nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women and many of them are supporting families.


AuthorChristine Saunders