Chris Thomas Oregon News Service
PORTLAND, Ore. – A Tuesday evening rally in Portland was one of many across the nation held to remind members of Congress that good jobs and decent wages must be a priority.
Audio: OR Workers Rally for Higher Minimum Wage
Whether a low-wage worker makes Oregon’s $8.80 an hour or the basic federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, demonstrators said, it’s still practically impossible to support a family on that kind of paycheck.
Margaret Butler, executive director of Oregon Jobs With Justice, says the state’s move to peg the minimum wage to inflation means Oregon doesn’t feel the negative effects quite so keenly.
“Not quite as much – but still, if you look at it over a 40-year period, purchasing power of the minimum wage has fallen a lot, in Oregon as well as other places.”
Tuesday marked three years since the last federal minimum-wage increase went into effect. Butler credits the “99 Percent” movement for prompting more interest in issues like minimum-wage policies.
“People are much more aware of inequality in our country. And the fact is, corporations – many of whom employ low-wage workers – have been making quite a nice profit, in spite of the continued recession for low-wage workers.”
Oregon is one of 17 states that has a higher hourly wage than the federal minimum. Legislation has been introduced in Congress as recently as last month to raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour.