The people over at 15 Now Oregon can’t be happy with a recent decision made by a powerful union-led coalition. According to the Oregonian, Raise the Wage announced that it will not champion a $15 minimum wage in Oregon after all. Rather, the coalition will seek a $13.50 minimum wage. The Oregonian,
“The new coalition, which includes a long list of the state’s major union and other left-of-center political groups, said it will push the $13.50 minimum wage in the 2016 legislative session but will then take its fight to next year’s November ballot if that fails.
“Meanwhile, organizers of a separate ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next three years said they would continue to push for their proposal.
“‘We still don’t see any good reason to settle for less than 15,’ said Kristi Wright, who heads 15 Now Oregon.”
Though the $13.50 minimum wage would give localities the ability to adopt a higher minimum wage, something appears to have been lost in translation between the Raise the Wage and the 15 Now Oregon people. Part of the problem is that the two group are basing their respective minimum wage hikes on competing research. The Oregonian,
“The coalition released a research report arguing that a $13.50 minimum wage would provide a “basis self-sufficiency income” for a single parent and child in much of the state. In the seven most urban counties, the report says, a higher wage would be necessary.
“Wright, from the competing minimum wage coalition, argued that their own research shows that workers throughout the state need a wage floor of at least $15 an hour.”
Then, of course, there is the small business group that is not interested in either proposal. The business group that has actual, hands-on experience of what it means to run a functioning business and produce jobs. The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce argues that the “big increase in the minimum wage could lead many small businesses to cut employment, leading to thousands of job losses.” The state Chamber of Commerce would prefer an option that would improve tax credits for “low-wage workers and helping them obtain skills that would help them get better jobs.”
Whether or not the downgrade to $13.50 per hour indicates that the $15 minimum wage push is a non-starter in Oregon, the disagreement has made it clear just how arbitrary the arguments used to push a higher minimum wage can get. Meanwhile, the business groups—those that understand job creation—have never wavered from their message.