Another big step was taken toward raising Oregon's minimum wage by the Raise the Wage Coalition last week. The group—which includes an extensive list of human rights, workers' rights, and social justice nonprofits—attained three certified ballot titles from the state's Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. The ballot initiatives received more than 4,000 signatures, meeting the certification requirement.
Andrea Miller, Executive Director for Causa, says the coalition is still doing research on the initiatives to see which one will move forward. IP 57 would allow local governments to create a minimum wage higher than the state's minimum wage. IP 58 would raise Oregon's minimum wage to $13.50 by 2018, and IP 59 would allow incremental increases in the minimum wage ultimately reaching $13.50 by 2019.
Miller says the coalition's main goal is to engage the Oregon Legislature during the upcoming short session in 2016.
"We believe that it is their responsibility to pass a minimum wage raise," she says. So if the Legislature does pass a bill to raise the minimum wage, a ballot initiative won't be necessary."
The group is advocating for $13.50 because Miller says that's the figure necessary for workers to remain self-sufficient without having to rely on government benefits.
"We've used $13.50 as a gauge so it's not going to cover everything," she says. This amount is what a single mother with one child would need to earn in order to be self-sufficient. Factors like family size and where people live also affect the amount needed to afford the cost of living.
If a bill fails to pass, Miller says the coalition has until July to collect signatures needed for the November ballot.
"Our priority is the Legislature," she says, "but if that doesn't happen, then we'll go to the ballot."
Civic meetings: A regular Bend City Council meeting will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 7 pm at City Hall, 710 NW Wall St.