02-19-2017  10:41 pm      •     
Seattle 15 NOW protest

Supporters of an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour encircle Seattle City Hall on Wednesday April 23; weeks later Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a phased-in $15 wage.  The minimum wage movement is growing and Oregon advocates hope to post a victory in the state legislature next year.

 

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian today announced the state minimum wage – tied by law to the Consumer Price Index – is going up fifteen cents per hour, to $9.25, starting Jan. 1, 2015.

Avakian’s office says about eight percent of Oregon’s overall workforce will benefit from the modest wage jump. But while living wage advocates applauded the hike, most – including Avakian himself – said it really isn’t enough.

“I’m really pleased to see so many folks at a national, a state and a local level talk about what the minimum wage ought to be, and that discussion really starts with who is your minimum wage worker today,” Avakian told The Skanner News after the updated wage figure was released Wednesday.

“It’s no longer a student who’s working a few hours after school to earn some pocket change – 62 percent of our minimum wage workers nationally are women, many of them over the age of 30, many of them with children at home,” Avakian said.

“Should any worker who’s working full time, especially with a family, be living in poverty?”

The Oregon Center for Public Policy agreed, giving the state a pat on the back for tying the wage floor to the cost of living, but, again, stressing that poverty wages hurt the state’s economy in the long run.

“Today’s economic reality — rising income inequality and too many working families living in poverty — speaks to the need to go beyond cost-of-living increases,” said the OCPP’s policy analyst Janet Bauer

“While Oregon voters were wise in tying annual adjustments to inflation to make sure that our lowest-paid workers don’t fall further behind, we need a minimum wage increase that makes forward progress.”

The OCPP cites the Basic Family Budget Calculator created by the Economic Policy Institute in calculating that a two-parent, two-child family living in rural Oregon needs each adult to earn a full-time wage of about $27 an hour “for a modest, yet secure standard of living.”

On the other hand, the OCPP says the most basic level of subsistence would be a minimum wage of about $11.70 “to lift a family of four with one parent working full-time out of poverty.”

“The official definition of poverty really measures serious economic privation, not basic needs,” Bauer says.

Earlier this month, the 2014 Annual Job Gap Report issued by the Alliance for a Just Society found that even a $15 minimum wage is inadequate to provide a better life for families.

The study showed that in Oregon, the real minimum wage is now $15.96 per hour, and that a single adult with two children in Oregon needs $30.75 per hour – not just to stay out of poverty, but to “thrive,” meaning purchase a home, send a child to college, or weather unexpected health problems.

Avakian said this week he is pleased with increased awareness and activism on the issue and that he is looking ahead to the 2015 legislative session in hopes a bill will land before lawmakers.

“So as the discussion in Oregon now turns to whether our minimum wage should be above the poverty line, I’m very encouraged that may be where we’re heading,” he said.

“The call to action is out there, we’re helping with the discussion that will take place when the legislature comes back in January, as to whether or not it’s time for Oregon to adjust its wage floor.”

Avakian has consistently championed a stronger wage, even testifying before a U.S. Senate labor committee last year about how the move has bolstered small businesses in Oregon; he testified that since indexing Oregon’s minimum wage to inflation in 2003, the number of small businesses has grown from 79,000 to about 88,000 today.

The key, Avakian argues, is that putting more money in the pockets of the poorest families raises their buying power in the economy; that means small businesses still have customers even when prices go up for goods and services.

“As an example, if we were to raise the minimum wage to just above the poverty line for a family of four, that would give a raise to over 450,000 Oregonians and it would add about $188 million of additional consumer purchasing power to our local economy,” he said this week.

“So it’s something that would benefit our workers, our families, and our local businesses – all.”

The Bureau of Labor and Industries estimates the new hike gives minimum wage employees working 30 hours a week will each have $234 more to spend on goods next year, putting more than $25 million in new consumer spending into the marketplace.

“Today's announcement that the 2015 minimum wage will be $9.25 is welcome news,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain. “Oregon has long been ahead of most states by ensuring our lowest-paid neighbors aren't falling even further behind.  But in reality that amounts to $19,240 a year, or $1,603.33 a month, to help families make ends meet.  More and more new jobs pay minimum wage or close to it.  It's time for us to do more. 

“The average age of a minimum wage worker, nationally, is 35.  It's not much different here in Oregon.  We can't expect a person to raise a family on $19,240 a year.  That's why the Oregon AFL-CIO is calling on the 2015 Legislature to give Oregon workers a boost.  Every family in our state should have a fair shot; the first step is ensuring every person who is working full time can afford to put food on the table.”

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all