WAGE HIKE PASSES: Governor ‘looks forward to signing bill’

(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown today released the following statement in response to the Oregon House of Representatives’ passage of SB 1532, a plan to increase Oregon’s minimum wage:

“Today’s action advances one of my priorities for 2016: raise the minimum wage,” said Governor Brown. “I started this conversation last fall, bringing stakeholders together to craft a workable proposal; one that gives working families the much-needed wage boost they need, and addresses challenges for businesses and rural economies presented by the two impending ballot measures. I look forward to signing this bill.”

Oregon House Votes to Give Minimum Wage Workers a Raise

Senate Bill 1532 now goes to the Governor’s desk

Minimum wage workers in Oregon will get a raise starting this year under a bill that passed the House today, gaining final legislative approval. Senate Bill 1532 will phase in a significant increase to the minimum wage over the next six years, providing real relief to workers who’ve been left behind by the economic recovery.

While the nation is in the midst of a conversation about raising the minimum wage, Oregon has taken the lead with a bill that establishes a regional system of wage rates that takes into account the different costs of living across the state. The increases are phased in over six years, in order to give businesses time to plan for the raises. After 2022, rate increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index.

“We see with our own eyes how families in our communities struggle,” says Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), who co-carried the bill on the floor. “We see the pain, the worry, the lines and the empty shelves at our food banks. Our economy is strong, but too many families are struggling. The status quo is not acceptable. This bill is one step I believe we must take to help the working families of our state, and move towards fairness in Oregon’s economy.”

Currently, the public foots the bill for the cost of low, low wages. Taxpayers pay $1.7 billion every year to cover the costs of public assistance for people who are working but are paid so little that they have to depend on safety net services just to get by and take care of their family. That means that large corporations have their labor costs subsidized by the public, even while enjoying rising profits.

Senate Bill 1532 will phase in a minimum wage of $14.75 in the Portland metropolitan area, $12.50 in rural counties and $13.50 in the Willamette Valley Northwest Oregon, as well as Jackson, Josephine, Deschutes, Wasco and Hood River counties.

Each region in Senate Bill 1532 is based on county-level demographic analysis data that defines the amount of income necessary to meet the basic needs of Oregon families. More details of the bill:

  • Workers within Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary would ultimately see their wages increase to $14.75 by 2022;
  • Those working in Malheur, Lake, Harney, Wheeler, Sherman, Gilliam, Wallowa, Grant, Jefferson, Baker, Union, Crook, Klamath, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Umatilla and Morrow counties would earn $12.50 by 2022; and
  • Employees in Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Deschutes, Hood River, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington and Yamhill counties would earn $13.50 per hour by 2022.

Senate Bill 1532 passed by a vote of 32-26 and now goes to Governor Brown for her signature.

Oregon’s Food Producers Dismayed by Minimum Wage Vote

Oregon agriculture groups are very concerned that the minimum wage hike passed by the House today threatens the future of farming and food production in the state, said a spokesman for the Northwest Food Processors Association.

Hundreds of farmers, ranchers and food processors came to Salem in recent weeks to testify on the real and negative effects the minimum wage hike would have on their operations and their families.

“Oregon’s food makers now face a severe competitive disadvantage with products grown and made elsewhere in the world,” said Ian Tolleson, Government Affairs Director of the Northwest Food Processors Association. “This not only jeopardizes jobs but entire rural communities.”

“Today a single party majority sent a clear message that they do not value family agriculture in Oregon,” said Barry Bushue, President of Oregon Farm Bureau. “This enormous increase will force many family farmers to try to find ways to mechanize or transition away from labor-intensive products Oregon is known for, like apples, pears, milk and berries. Unfortunately, some will give up and sell, while others will simply go out of business.”

An Important Step for Oregon Families
Statement by Chuck Sheketoff, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy, on Oregon Legislature approving minimum wage increase:
The Center thanks and congratulates the Oregon House of Representatives for taking an important step forward to ensure more working Oregonians share in the benefits of the state’s growing economy. This is an historic moment. It has been 27 years since the legislature last took it upon themselves to give Oregon’s lowest-paid workers a boost. Here at the Center, we’re proud to have been part of this momentous occasion.

Oregon businesses — large and small and new and old alike — thrived after the 1989 legislature raised the minimum wage, and we’re confident that Oregon businesses will do so again after this more modest increase.

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