Category Archives: Small Business

New Seasons and Other Businesses Push for Higher Minimum Wage

New Seasons Market announced that it will raise the minimum starting wage at all of its stores to $12 per hour in January 2016, a $2 increase from their current base pay of $10 per hour. ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria in Portland also announced that they are raising their minimum wage to $12.50 in January 2016, and will increase that to $15 by 2021.

According to a press release sent out yesterday, New Seasons is working with a number of other businesses to call “for state elected leaders to take action in 2016 on a minimum wage policy that meets the needs of Oregon’s diverse communities.” Among those other businesses are Grand Central Bakery, HOTLIPS Pizza, Looptworks, Neil Kelly, ¿Por Qué No?, The Joinery, Better World Club, Morel Ink, Chef’s Table, FMYI, and Grain & Gristle.

New Season’s CEO Wendy Collie stated, “The wage that supports self-sufficiency in urban areas such as Portland could be $15 per hour, while the differences in cost of living in rural communities could make the same wage unsustainable.”

We applaud New Seasons and these other businesses for committing to raising wages, for actively supporting the work to change state policy on the minimum wage, and for recognizing the need for $15 in Portland.  However, while we agree that Oregon communities are diverse in terms of cost of living, we wish to emphasize that $15 is not just what is needed in Portland, but rather what is need throughout our entire state.

Continue reading New Seasons and Other Businesses Push for Higher Minimum Wage

Statewide small business alliance endorses $15 minimum wage for Oregon

One of the most frequent questions and concerns about raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Oregon is the effect it will have on small, local businesses. Won’t a $15 minimum wage cause small businesses to lay off employees and even shut down?

While studies of actual minimum wage increases consistently show that businesses fare better in states with higher minimum wages, the effects on small business is still a concern for many people, especially in a place like Oregon where people care so deeply for small businesses and the local economy.

This week Main Street Alliance of Oregon endorsed a $15 minimum wage, putting to rest the idea that small business can’t afford and won’t support a $15 minimum wage. Main Street Alliance of Oregon is a coalition of small business owners. From realtors to retailers, and veterinarians to family farmers, “Main Street Alliance of Oregon works to build a brighter future and a stronger economy for all of us.”

Stephen Michaels, State Director for Main Street Alliance of Oregon says, “the businesses we work with support $15 because  our businesses thrive and prosper when customers have money in their pockets to spend.”

These small businesses know that treating their employees well is good for business. They understand that people need to be able to afford to buy the products and services small businesses are selling if our economy is to thrive. They understand that when more people have more money to spend, the economy and small businesses benefit. And for this reason Main Street Alliance of Oregon has endorsed and supports a $15 minimum wage.

Join 15 Now, the Main Street Alliance, and almost 70 other labor, community, and business organizations and Fight for $15 in Oregon. No one who works should live in poverty. Together we can win!

MSN Media – Portland Small Business – Endorses $15/hr Minimum Wage

When the idea of a $15 minimum wage came up Matt Navarre, owner of MSN Media, a local small business here in Portland, thought it was a no brainer. He said in a very straightforward manner,

The current minimum wage is not even close to a living wage. People have to be able to pay their bills and survive.

MSN Media has taken on three employees so far, and also uses several contractors to create custom software for public heath and other Multnomah County and the State of Oregon government agencies, as well as private company clients. All employees and contractors who work for MSN Media make at least $15 per hour, and all employees are provided with health insurance through the company. In fact, the lowest paid employee, a trainee, starts at $15/hr. msn_logo_03b Navarre says that it is not just a matter of whether his company can afford to pay a living wage, but that as a business owner who has chosen to grow his business by taking on employees paying a living wage is his responsibility. When asked about this sense of responsibility and why he endorses a $15/hr minimum wage for all all workers in the City of Portland and the State of Oregon, Navarre reiterated,

We support a raise in the minimum wage to $15 because the current minimum is not close to a living wage. As an employer, part of my responsibility is to look after the fiscal health of my staff, and ensure they have a living wage. 

Matt Navarre – Owner of MSN Media

Navarre says he sees the benefit that paying a living wage has on his own staff, and he believes that a $15/hr minimum wage for the whole city will benefit both his own business and the workers of Portland:

This will benefit my business, the happiness of my staff, and the citizens of Portland. The higher wage will give me a greater pool of people to hire as future employees, and a wider, better range of potential clients.

In this comment Navarre touches on some of the myths and propaganda that has been created by Big Business to elicit fear at the thought of raising the minimum wage, primarily the scapegoating of small businesses. We are told that raising the minimum wage will be bad for small businesses, that they will be forced to move to neighboring cities with lower wages, or else close down. Either way jobs will be lost.

But Navarre understands the when the minimum wage is increased, the outcome is actually the opposite of the doomsday scenarios painted by Big Business in their attempts to amass and cling to the wealth created by their workers. He understands that when employees are paid well they perform better and increase their productivity, which saves companies money. He gets that when workers make a living wage they can pay their bills and have extra money to spend. He knows that this benefits local businesses and increases their sales and profits. He understands that a $15/hr living wage is good for everyone. It is good for workers, it is good for businesses, and it will be good for the whole City of Portland and the whole State of Oregon.

Written by Justin Norton-Kertson, 15 Now PDX cofounder and steering committee member.

East Portland Businesses Endorse Caleb for Council, 15 Now

Last week, East Portlander Tommy Ly announced his endorsement of Nicholas Caleb for city councilor, and of his family’s businesses’ support of Caleb and 15 Now, the movement to pay workers a $15/hr livable minimum wage. Caleb for Council would like to deeply thank Tommy and his family for their gracious support, and for the role they play in their community of East Portland.

Tommy Ly’s words :

•• I come from an extremely poor family. My parents were refugees during the Vietnam War because my grandfather fought for South Vietnam. His family was persecuted relentlessly for it. In the early 90s, my family was granted political refugee status, and was allowed to immigrate to the United States.

Both my parents held graduate degrees from Vietnam, yet had to work various odd jobs in order to provide for our family. While growing up, I rarely got to see them. After breakfast, my father would drop my brother and I off at the sitter, and then he would go to work as a waiter and busser for a restaurant. My mother worked in the kitchen. They were both paid minimum wage.

Our whole family had to make do with 2nd-hand clothing, foods stamps, and a one bedroom apartment. My father doesn’t like to talk about it, but he once told me that his former employer used to cheat him out of his paycheck, taking advantage of the fact that my both my mother and father had limited English skills. They worked nearly 12 hours a day, but only got paid for 10 of those hours, and were often forced to work overtime without pay.

Eventually, my parents were able to save enough to start their own restaurant. This has since grown into a small chain. We now own several strip malls around the Portland area as well, however, my parents never forgot about their ‘roots’ – they know what it is like to be poor. They know how hard it is to live on a minimum wage. Because of this, our business is committed to providing the best for our employees.

Up until recently, we paid all our staff a base wage of $10/hr. If there was a slow night where they received minimal tips, my father would increase their base wages so that they would average out to at least $15/hr.
Since we first saw campaign posters for Nicholas Caleb, we knew that $10/hr was not enough for a living wage.

Starting in May, all our staff will have a base wage of $15.00 per hour, and we’ll be looking at various health insurance plans to cover our workers as well.

We agree that the current minimum wage in Portland is much too low to live on, and this issue is being championed by Nicholas Caleb, who is currently running for Portland city council. He has a well thought-out plan for how to make $15/hr a reality in such a way that it will benefit our local economy and small businesses alike. This is the main reason I support Caleb for Council, and am urging others to do the same. He genuinely cares about family businesses, and about the lives of people living in East Portland. Please join me in voting for Nicholas Caleb for Portland city council.

Tommy Ly,
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