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.
Quan Linh Asian Bistros