Who are Oregon's minimum wage earners?
Minimum wage workers care for our elders as health aides. They watch over our children in day care centers. They pick our food from the fields and serve it to us in restaurants.
Today, full time minimum wage earners make just $13,500 per year. Many people are supporting families and have to rely on food banks and government assistance.
According to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, most minimum wage workers are women (60%), most are 20 or older (73%), and many are single parents (25%).
Measure 25 gives you, the voter, a chance to raise the Oregon minimum wage to $6.90 per hour in January of 2003 and provide an annual cost of living increase in future years.
The average minimum wage worker is not a teenager living at home.
With more and more adults working in low-wage jobs, we are quickly realizing this is not a livable wage. People working full-time should not struggle to buy food and pay rent.
More than 100,000 low-wage workers in Oregon haven't had a raise since voters' overwhelmingly approved the last minimum wage increase in 1996.
Voters can provide Oregon's lowest paid workers a modest raise. You can help families who are struggling to escape poverty.
No one who works full-time should live in poverty.
State Representative Diane Rosenbaum
Labor Commissioner-Elect Dan Gardner
(This information furnished by State Rep. Diane Rosenbaum.)
It's tough to survive on $6.50 an hour.
I used to make more money, but lost my job after there was a company management change.
Living On $1040 a Month
Between rent, utilities, car and insurance payments, food, gas and basic essentials for my children, we have a hard time making ends meet. It adds up so fast.
I Am Not Alone.
I am like thousands of other working moms, struggling every day to manage work, childcare and put food on the table. I don't want a handout. I want to make my own way...for a wage that is enough to take care of my family.
Increasing Cost of Living
Providing an annual cost of living adjustment helps. Food costs go up, rent has increased and utility bills just continue to grow.
Wages, Not Welfare
Oregon's minimum wage workers need a raise. Ask yourself this question: Could you and your family survive on $1,040 a month? I can tell you from my own personal experience that it is nearly impossible.
Let's give Oregon's minimum wage workers a fighting chance to make ends meet.
Please, join me in voting yes on Measure 25.
(This information furnished by Sylvia A. Lokey.)
In the hope that voters find our social teaching helpful, the Oregon Catholic Conference shares its perspective on the minimum wage.
Work has a special place in Catholic social thought: it is more than just a job, it is a reflection of our human dignity, and a way to contribute to the common good. Most important, it is the ordinary way people meet their material needs and community obligations.
In Catholic teaching, the principle of a living wage is integral to our understanding of human work. Wages must be adequate for workers to provide for themselves and their family in dignity.
While the minimum wage is not a living wage, the Church has supported increasing the minimum wage over the decades. The minimum wage needs to be raised to help restore its purchasing power, not just for the goods and services one can buy, but for the self-esteem and self-worth it affords the individual.
The Oregon Catholic Conference urges Oregon's voters to vote "Yes" on Measure 25 to raise the minimum wage.
(This information furnished by Robert J. Castagna, Oregon Catholic Conference.)
THE PEOPLE I ADVOCATE FOR:
We're talking about adults working full time to put food on the table. Make no mistake, the stereotype of teenagers earning minimum wage has passed our society by.
Many are single mothers struggling to make ends meet. Imagine raising a family on less than $13,500 a year.
I also find many two-parent households working temporary jobs fighting to get as many hours of work possible. Many minimum wage employers hire part-time and these families work less than a 40-hour workweek.
THE JOBS THEY DO:
Many are working at child-care centers while others baby-sit out of their homes. From certified nurses assistants in elder care centers with no benefits to service sector jobs like fast food, it is a tough way to make a living.
THE PLACE THEY WANT TO BE:
They want more education and training so they can get better paying jobs. Right now, minimum wage earners are making decisions based on necessities.
No one wants to be a crisis away from being homeless. I know because five years ago, I was a single parent attending college on a scholarship and earning the minimum wage.
Even with college tuition paid, Section 8 housing, food stamps and subsidized day-care, it was nearly impossible to meet my family's basic needs.
Heat or eat...
Medication or clothing...
School supplies or lunch money.
Today, I am proud to have earned a Bachelors and Masters degree from Portland State University.
I know first-hand the value of a paycheck based on my experiences as a single parent receiving public benefits and my life as an advocate.
Join me in supporting this sensible minimum wage increase. Oregon's lowest paid workers haven't received a minimum wage increase in four years. That's too long.
Please vote 'Yes' on Measure 25.
Poverty Action Team
(This information furnished by Cassandra Garrison, Poverty Action Team.)
I'm privileged to represent over 22,000 working Oregonians in industries from retail sales, healthcare, food processing, garment and boot making, warehouses, hair care providers, law offices, web design, and numerous other professions.
Our top priority is fair and reasonable wages.
Not just for the men and women of Local 555, but that all Oregonians receive fair compensation for an honest day's work.
Oregonians working full-time should not have to rely on public support. Welfare checks, food boxes and reliance on state health care are all too common when a family wage-earner is making the minimum wage.
Think about it.
Full time work for only $1,040 a month.
That's less than $13,500 a year!
Could you live on that? It gets pretty tough after paying rent or a mortgage, food, clothing, gas, car insurance (don't even consider a vehicle breakdown), water utilities and the electric bill. Nearly every penny is eaten up by necessities.
Many of these people haven't received a raise since 1999. Passing Measure 25 provides a modest wage increase for the lowest wage earners.
I urge all Oregonians to support increasing the
minimum wage because people working full-time
shouldn't end up on public assistance.
Vote Yes on Measure 25
(This information furnished by Gene Pronovost.)
That should be the bottom line in any debate about Oregon's minimum wage. Unfortunately, the minimum wage debate often becomes a game of political football. But that shouldn't be the case for our most economically-challenged workers.
Ballot Measure 25 will fix the process.
Measure 25 does two things. First, it bumps up the current minimum wage to $6.90 per hour. Do the math. No one is going to get rich at $6.90 per hour, but it will be a welcome addition to families struggling to make ends meet.
Measure 25 also includes a cost of living trigger that will annually increase Oregon's minimum wage relative to the Consumer Price Index. That's something we have needed all along.
In relative terms, Oregonians working for the minimum wage make less money today than they did in the 1970s. That's just not right. But again, under our current system of "catch when catch can," modifying the minimum wage becomes political football, with the wage-earners the players left on the sideline.
Measure 25 fixes that problem, and takes the issue out of the political arena.
Who are minimum wage earners? Opponents to Measure 25 will tell you most minimum wage workers are teens in their first jobs.
But that's not true.
Almost 6 out of 10 minimum wage earners are women. Moreover, 25 percent of all minimum wage earners are single mothers, many of whom work full-time but still depend on charitable agencies to help feed their families.
And while there are some young workers in the fast food industry, there are thousands upon thousands of Oregonians earning minimum wage who either care for our children or care for our elderly. These are some of the most important jobs in our society, and it's a shame that people working them struggle to stay above the poverty line.
Let's be fair. Vote "Yes" on Ballot Measure 25.
(This information furnished by Don Loving, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).)
We believe those working full-time should not live in poverty.
Minimum wage earners are nursing home assistants and child-care workers. They work for large and small businesses. While many are single parents, increasingly we find two parent households struggling to make ends meet.
All to often, these hard-working people have to seek out charitable assistance or welfare. Remember, $13,500 a year only goes so far.
Please join us in voting 'Yes' on Measure 25.
COALITION TO RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE
AFSCME Local 3336
American Federation of Teachers Oregon
Campaign for Patient Rights
Cement Masons Local 555
Coalition for a Livable Future
Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council
Committee in Solidarity with Central American People, Eugene
Communications Workers of America, Local 7901
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
Harlequin Beads & Jewelry, Inc.
Human Services Coalition of Oregon (HSCO)
Laborers Local 483
National Council of Jewish Women, Portland Section
Northwest Oregon Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Oregon AFSCME, Council 75
Oregon Education Association
Oregon Food Bank
Oregon Law Center
Oregon Machinists Council
Oregon Nurses Association
Oregon Roads, Inc.
Oregon School Employees Association
Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council
Oregon State Council of Senior Citizens
Oregon Women's Political Caucus
Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters
Paul's Bicycle Way of Life
Portland Association of Teachers
Portland Fire Fighters Association
Portland Gray Panthers
Portland Jobs with Justice
United Food & Commercial Workers, Local 555
United Seniors of Oregon
United Steelworkers of America, Local 6163
Women's International League for Peace & Freedom
For a complete list of endorsers, please go to our website
(This information furnished by Labor Commissioner-Elect Dan Gardner.)
Support working Oregonians
Everyday in Oregon, more and more working Oregonians are relying on emergency food boxes, food stamps, and other supports to survive. Many of these working Oregonians hold minimum and low-wage jobs. These working Oregonians, many of whom are immigrants, women, elders, youth and people of color; provide essential services in our society such as healthcare, public safety, and food services.
No one working full-time should be forced to live in poverty due to low wages.
Cost of living outpaces wages
For low-wage workers, a disproportionate amount of their income goes toward cost of living expenses. Wages have not kept up with the cost of living. Living expenses such as housing, healthcare, and food have far outpaced wage levels for working families. During the nineties, Oregon's median hourly wage grew twenty-two percent. Median rent, however, increased from $345 to $500 a month or an increase of forty-five percent. Home prices rose twice that of income during the nineties. Over 100,000 Oregonians are on the Oregon Health Plan. An estimate of over 423,000 Oregonians, many of them working families, are without health insurance. The poor spend nineteen percent of their income on healthcare compared to three percent in wealthier households. Oregon is the hungriest state in the nation according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. About 74,000 working Oregonians are food insecure, not including the many unemployed Oregonians due to the recession.
Minimum wage increase honors working Oregonians
Raising the minimum wage from $6.50 to $6.90 an hour would increase the annual earning to $14,352. Oregon's current minimum wage is just sixty percent of Oregon's living wage. The minimum wage needs to be adjusted to inflation, guaranteeing at least a minimal raise yearly.
Justice demands more than a handout or charity. Increasing the minimum wage honors a hard day's work so that more working Oregonians can live in dignity.
Vote "Yes" on Measure 25
(This information furnished by Phillip Wong, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.)
Dear Fellow Oregonians:
I ask you to join me in voting Yes on Measure 25, which will increase the minimum wage and help it to keep pace with inflation so that full-time working Oregonians do not have to live in poverty.
Every day, over 100,000 hard-working Oregon families struggle to survive on less than $13,500 a year. The average minimum wage worker is not a teenager living at home; instead, 60% of minimum wage earners are women and 25% are single mothers. These are full-time workers who deserve dignity and respect for the work they do.
In these tough economic times, it is the people at the lowest end of the economic scale who need our help the most, and an increase in the minimum wage will make a real difference in their bottom lines. In addition, these workers spend a high proportion of their income, which will provide another boost to Oregon's economy.
If we truly are to value work, we must value all of our workers, especially minimum wage workers. These hard-working Oregonians are playing by the rules, working full-time to help themselves, and we should help and support them in that effort.
Please join me in voting Yes on Measure 25.
Oregon Secretary of State
(This information furnished by Bill Bradbury, Oregon Secretary of State.)
HELPED OREGON'S ECONOMY
IN 1913, 1989 AND 1996.
IT CAN DO SO AGAIN IN 2002.
VOTE YES ON MEASURE 25.
OREGONIANS HAVE ALWAYS HONORED THE WORK ETHIC:
Starting in 1913, with the documentation of sweatshops prepared by Caroline J. Gleason (later Sister Miriam Theresa) came the first enforceable wage-hour law in the U.S. That became the model for the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
Continuing in 1989, our Oregon legislators listened to their constituents who were working full time and living in poverty. They also noted the lack of wage protection for farm workers who were the backbone of our agri-business economy. The Legislature chose to increase the minimum wage to $4.75 an hour and add farm workers to Oregon's law.
Increasing in 1996 the minimum wage was raised through the citizen initiative process. Because the 1995 Oregon Legislature refused to acknowledge the diminishing purchasing power of the minimum wage, the Minimum Wage Coalition was forced to go to the voters to seek economic fairness for the workers who drive our economy. Voters overwhelmingly approved raising the wage to $5.50 in 1997, $6.00 in 1998 and $6.50 in 1999.
OREGONIANS CAN CONTINUE TO HONOR THE WORK ETHIC:
By supporting in 2002 Measure 25 which raises the minimum wage to $6.90 and adds a cost of living index. This initiative should not have been necessary. The 2001 Oregon Legislature refused to hold a work session and ignored the credible economic studies as well as Oregon's own positive experience with providing fair compensation to workers. This inaction transfers the responsibility to all Oregonians. Please join me in exercising that responsibility.
VOTE YES ON MEASURE 25
Ellen C. Lowe
1989 Minimum Wage Coalition Chair
1996 Minimum Wage Initiative Chief-Petitioner
(This information furnished by Ellen Lowe.)
The Oregon Center for Public Policy analyzed the impacts of the voters' 1996 decision to raise the Oregon minimum wage.
Our report, Getting the Raise They Deserved: The Success of Oregon's Minimum Wage and the Need for Reform (http://www.ocpp.org/2001/es010312.htm), revealed that:
The increase in the cost of living since 1999 means that minimum wage workers have seen their wages decline.
Measure 25 restores some of the purchasing power of the minimum wage lost since January 1999, and will annually adjust the minimum wage to keep pace with rising prices in the future.
Measure 25 may spur wage increases for those earning just above the minimum wage, helping more than just minimum wage workers.
Measure 25 will help low-income, working families make ends meet and pump more money into Oregon's economy.
THE OREGON CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY URGES
A "YES" VOTE ON MEASURE 25
(This information furnished by Charles Sheketoff, Oregon Center for Public Policy.)
I know when I can pay my employees a fair wage that allows them to keep food on the table and pay their bills, good things happen for my company.
When Oregon last voted to raise the minimum wage in 1996, opponents said Oregon would lose jobs and businesses would close. Just the opposite came true. Jobs for low-wage workers in Oregon increased and our economy was booming.
Why do the interests that advocate economic growth oppose wage growth and financial security for the working people of Oregon? Working people don't hoard their money or put it in international investment schemes. They spend right here in our community.
Oregon's minimum wage workers haven't had a raise since 1999.
Oregon Roads Inc.
(This information furnished by Joseph L. McKinney, Oregon Roads, Inc.)
Measure 25 will raise the minimum wage to $6.90 an hour in 2003 and index the wage to inflation in future years.
According to Holly Sklar, author of Raise the Floor: Wages and Policies that Work for All of Us, if earnings had kept pace with rising productivity since 1968, the minimum wage would have risen to $13.80 by 2000. Oregon's $6.50 an hour minimum wage is inadequate. Families cannot live on it; many households have two or more minimum wage earners, each working two jobs just to survive.
Forty percent of minimum wage earners in the United States are the chief breadwinners for their families. How many $6.50 an hour apartments or houses have you seen for rent in your town? It is an unlivable wage, and we must do everything in our power to take each step towards a living wage for all Oregonians.
The people of Oregon can and must afford to pass this initiative. In difficult economic times, the people at the bottom of the ladder are hardest hit, and for them, there is no down. They're already there.
Meanwhile, in 1980, chief executive officer (CEO) salaries were 42 times greater than the average employee salary. By 2000, CEO salaries had risen to 531 times ordinary workers' salaries. If companies can afford to overcompensate their corporate heads, they can certainly afford to adequately compensate those who do the basic labor to create the company's wealth.
When the minimum wage increased from $4.75 to $5.50 an hour in 1997, studies showed no expected drop in employment as a result of the increase in the minimum wage. Opponents of a new minimum wage are simply unwilling to support reasonable wages. Please vote yes on Measure 25.
(This information furnished by Hope Marston, Pacific Green Party of Oregon.)
Arguments in Opposition