Article first appeared in the Forecaster.
By David Harry, The Forecaster
Nikki Brooks reflected on a financially satisfying career in the restaurant industry as she served drinks at DiMillo’s on the Waterfront last week.
“I’ve been a server and tender for 13 years,” she said. “You can directly see the fruits of your labor.”
Heather McIntosh, meanwhile, sitting Monday with her son, Liam, on the playground at Reiche Elementary School, said making a living in the city has become more difficult, with consequences that directly affect children.
“Everything is going up exponentially,” she said.
Brooks and McIntosh typify the opposing sides of Question 1, the Nov. 3 citizen initiative that would increase Portland’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Called a “living” wage by supporters, the ordinance affects all employers doing business in Portland, but not municipal employees because of rules in the City Charter.
The increases above the current state minimum wage of $7.50 per hour and the city wage of $10.10 — effective Jan. 1, 2016 — would come in stages, depending on the size of the company.
“Schedule A” companies with 500 or more employees would be required to pay the living wage by July 1, 2017. Smaller companies with fewer than 500 employees would be required to pay the wage by July 1, 2019.
The ordinance calls for gradual increases leading to the living wage which, after 2019, would increase based on the inflation rate measured by the U.S. Consumer Price Index.
If Question 1 passes, larger employers would have to pay $12 per hour beginning July 1, 2016. Smaller employers would be required to pay $10 per hour by July 1, 2016; $12 by July 1, 2017, and $13.50 by July 1, 2018.
Schedule A employers are measured by the number of employees nationwide, which will require local franchise holders to meet the $15 wage sooner.
If passed, the ordinance could not be amended for five years. Continue reading