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Subject: [ROPNET] Leg 05: Stand up for Workers!
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 11:43:32 -0800
From: Amy Dudley < firstname.lastname@example.org>
It doesn't take long for economic justice to be threatened - or for us to fight back! Only days into this year's Legislative session, some of Oregon's most vulnerable, minimum wage workers, are under attack. This flies in the face of the committment that Oregonians made in our 2002 vote to keep workers out of poverty. And as progressive rural and small town Oregonians who are committed to economic justice for all, we must let our representatives know we say NO to this attack!
Led by the Oregon Restaurant Association, House Majority Leader Wayne Scott (R-Canby) filed a bill (HB 2331) two days into the session that would delete the annual cost-of-living adjustment to the minimum wage that voters approved as part of Measure 25 in 2002. Today, the minimum wage is $7.25/hour. And then this week, a new bill has been filed that would reduce the current minimum wage of $7.25/hour down to the federal minimum of only $5.15 for the first year of employment. That's a $2.10 an hour pay cut for low-wage workers. The bill also goes after public employees. It prohibits public employees from being covered by collective bargaining agreements for the first year of employment. This one (HB 2386) comes from Rep. Donna Nelson (R-McMinnville).
These bills target approximately 75,000-80,000 minimum wage workers in Oregon and another 70,000 earning just above the minimum wage that would be affected by any increase in the wage. Nationally, 54% of minimum wage workers are 16-24 years of age and 65% are women.
Proponents are arguing that the minimum wage hurts the economy in Oregon, but the facts tell a different story. The hospitality industry, which employs the largest number of minimum wage workers, added 1,300 jobs after the minimum wage increased in 2003, even while the rest of the state was losing jobs. And when the minimum wage was flat in 2000-2002, the industry employment dropped by 1.5%.
Take action now to tell your legislator to protect the minimum wage! People who work full-time should not be forced to live in poverty. That's why we passed the minimum wage and that's why we should keep it as is. Go to http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/Protect_Minimum_Wage for more information.
Stay tuned for next week's legislative update. And keep us posted on the issues and concerns in your communities. We are continuing to fill out our ROP Legislative Platform and it will soon be available for your group to endorse!
All the best-
Rural Organizing Project