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Updated: 4 hours 28 min ago

Robert Reich on $15 Why?

April 9, 2014 - 10:27pm

As we're apparently going through the basic six questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how) about the $15/hour minimum wage proposal, I thought it appropriate to share this video from U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explaining seven reasons why people are calling for a $15/hr minimum wage.

Meanwhile, in local news, the minimum wage discussion has hit various races. From The Oregonian:

Francesconi... has said he wants to establish a minimum wage for workers on county-funded projects that meets or exceeds Obama’s proposed increase. He also says he’ll push state lawmakers to consider an increase.

Kafoury, while noting that the county already pays a prevailing rate higher than minimum wage on construction projects, said she supports a repeal of the state law that prevents local governments from raising their minimum wage. If a repeal isn’t an option, she said she’ll push lawmakers to raise the statewide rate.

Saltzman’s opponent, Concordia University professor Nick Caleb, launched his campaign last month by calling for Portland’s lowest-wage workers to earn $15 an hour. Saltzman followed by participating in a rally Tuesday aimed, in part, at supporting a repeal of the state preemption.

The discussion continues.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Why Is Monsanto a So Worried About the Jackson County Vote on Genetically Engineered Crops?

April 9, 2014 - 12:00pm

By Elise Higley of Jackson County. Elise is a family farmer in Jackson County and the director of the Our Family Farms Coalition which is leading the fight to pass measure 15-119 which would ban genetically engineered crops in Jackson County. She is also the campaign manager for the campaign.

As a family farmer, it's clear to me that few things pose as great a threat to the future of family farming than genetically engineered crops. When their pollen drifts onto farms like mine it can make the seeds that keep my farm afloat worthless. And, if I tried to sell or grow any GMO-contaminated seed it would be a violation of Monsanto's or another chemical corporation's federal patent rights. This is why myself and 150 other family farms in the Rogue Valley are working hard to pass the Family Farms Measure 15-119, which would make Jackson County the first Oregon county to prohibit growing genetically engineered crops.

It's no surprise that Monsanto, DuPont, Dow and Syngenta are now trying to swamp our county with an unprecedented flood of campaign cash to defeat the measure. They dropped $450,000 into our small county on a single day last week bringing their opposition campaign total to $812,000. For perspective, this is about eight times more money than has been spent on any previous measure campaign in County history.

Passing a measure like this may seem like a pipe dream for a rural southern Oregon county. This may be part of why we were the only county allowed to proceed with this vote despite the Legislature's ban on similar county measures in the February session. But we now have diverse support from every part of the county. I've never seen Democrats in Ashland working side by side with Republicans in Medford and Libertarians in Eagle Point, but it's happening and the out-of-state chemical corporations have every reason to be worried since their scare tactics to date have gained little traction. Our new campaign radio ad available on our website even features one of the county's largest farmers who is a conservative Republican. In the ad he announces that based on what he's learned recently he is stopping growing genetically engineered crops and is supporting Measure 15-119.

This of course, is why Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont and other corporate chemical giants are throwing money into our race. We have over 150 family farms supporting our effort and hundreds of individual and business supporters. We have two campaign field offices that are full of volunteers and we have farmers and other supporters canvassing almost nightly. And, thanks to low-priced TV and radio here, our TV ads are on all major stations. About $250 buys you a prime time TV ad here and $50 buys a top slot radio ad so we are able to compete on every level even with a budget dwarfed by team Monsanto.

A win in Jackson County sends a message to legislators that it's time to give counties back the right to decide for themselves whether to protect their family farmers from genetically engineered crops. If you value family farms and think the idea of growing crops that can cause a 10-fold increase in herbicide use doesn't make sense, then please go to our website and add yourself as a supporter of the Family Farms Measure no matter where you live and help take a stand against Monsanto, their friends, and their high-impact genetically engineered crops.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Epic moment: Six year old asks a question that leaves Hillary Clinton speechless

April 8, 2014 - 10:32pm

Tonight, Hillary Clinton spoke in Portland. The final question of the night came from a six year old student at Glencoe Elementary. It was... a stumper.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

How Portland can reduce the wage gap between women and men

April 8, 2014 - 7:00am

By Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Today is Equal Pay Day. That's the day each year when American women finally earn what their male counterparts earned during the prior year. This year, it took women a shocking three months and eight days to catch up. That's because women across our country earn, on average, 77 cents for every dollar earned by men for equivalent work. This gap is wider for women of color: African-American women are paid 64 cents and Latinas 55 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

There are many reasons why pay gaps exist -- and persist. One piece of the gap can be explained by how we undervalue work that is traditionally done by women -- even when it is comparable to higher paying work done by men. Another piece is due to the wage and promotion penalties women face after time away from the workforce due to family caregiving responsibilities (work that is still more often done by women). And some of the gap is due to persistent gender discrimination in hiring, pay and promotion -- despite laws that discourage the practice.

Reducing pay gaps and improving the economic security of women will require broader change than what's been tried in the past. I believe it is my job -- and the job of elected leaders at every level of government -- to commit to reducing it in the ways we can. It is with that in mind that I wish to highlight a few steps that I believe are critical to improving economic conditions for Portland women and their families in the near future:

  • First, I support efforts to overturn an Oregon law passed in 2001 that precludes cities from creating their own local minimum wages that exceed the state's (now $9.10/hour). And I support a raise in our state's minimum wage that brings working families above the federal poverty line. We know that nationally two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women -- so raising minimum wage standards has a broader -- and much needed - positive impact for women.
  • Second, I am proud to support the work of my colleagues, Commissioners Nick Fish and Steve Novick, as they prepare to conduct a robust pay equity audit as part of an upcoming city-wide classification and compensation study. As an employer, the City of Portland has an obligation to ensure that we are regularly identifying inequitable hiring, pay and promotion practices -- and resolving them. I am committed to ensuring that we are giving equal opportunity to the women and people of color who work for the City and paying them equitably for equal work.

  • Third, in early 2013 our City Council voted unanimously to support a protected sick time law that ensures that everyone working in the city can earn up to 40 hours of sick time during the course of a year to take care of themselves or their family members when illness strikes, as it inevitably does. And now this must happen at the state level.

    I am very proud of the impact this new law will have on Portland women especially, who have more caregiving responsibilities and are more likely to work in service-sector jobs where sick days have been historically rare. Due in large part to the leadership of Commissioner Amanda Fritz, this law was an important step toward creating workplace standards that help women keep their jobs. No one should be fired or lose needed pay because they get the flu or need to take care of a sick child -- regardless of where they live or work. I commit to doing all that I can to ensure that all Oregonians have this right and support my colleagues in making sure this is a legislative priority for the City of Portland in the 2015 legislative session.

  • Fourth and finally, if mothers are to stay connected to the workforce and earn what they are worth, they need affordable childcare. Without it, it's nearly impossible to get and keep a job. Yet childcare in Oregon is unaffordable for many.

    I created and continue to champion the Portland Children's Levy to ensure that kids have better access to opportunity -- and remain committed to ensuring that their mothers do, too. I support the initiative led by Mayor Charlie Hales and Multnomah County Chair Marissa Madrigal to maintain and grow funding for the in-school, wrap-around services provided by SUN Programs. Additionally, over the next year, my office will be looking for new and concrete ways the City can make child care more affordable for more Portland families -- without compromising quality or reducing already low wages for child care workers (who are mostly women). Together, and in partnership with Multnomah County, I believe we can find new models for making this critical service more available to and affordable for those who need it most.

Throughout my life in public office I have committed to creating better services for women and children. By focusing on these and other concrete steps to improve economic conditions for women, we will strengthen our entire city and help to finally reduce persistent pay and opportunity gaps.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs