Opposition Report: Attacks on Minimum Wage

Oregon just passed landmark minimum wage legislation, and out-of-state special interests aren’t taking it lying down. Find out what’s next in the war on working families.

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The closer we get to Election Day, the harder it can be to stay on top of the latest news — especially when Donald Trump’s most recent speech makes you want to give up altogether. But with all that’s at stake here in Oregon, we can’t afford to sit this one out. That’s why we’re watchdogging the worst of the worst and letting you know about the latest attacks on Oregon’s progressive values.

Oregon’s groundbreaking minimum wage law (SB 1532) passed a month ago, but special interests are still waging an opposition campaign. Before we get into what they’re saying, here’s a quick recap:

During the bill’s progression through the legislature, opponents of fair pay took a patchwork approach to their arguments. The majority of opposition hinged on making the bill out to be a blow to employment and small businesses. From newsletters to protests to national news coverage, there seemed to be a battle for who could claim the most jobs would be lost — nevermind the fact that there’s plenty of evidence showing that the minimum wage actually has little effect on employment.

But beyond debunked employment stats, there was little to tie anti-fair-pay arguments together. Everyone weighed in from different angles, and some got downright bizarre. Rep. Gene Whisnant claimed that Democrats favored the wage hike because their “supporters [would] have more funds for campaigns.” The Baker City Herald mourned the fact that SB 1532 was about numbers and not… something else, writing that the Legislature was “reduc[ing] the minimum wage to a series of figures as though it’s a bus schedule.”

But now that the bill has been signed into law, reality is sinking in and the right-wing is refining their arguments. Step one? Putting a small business face on the opposition to hide their big, corporate backers. They’re also running apocalyptic stories on all their usual outlets, and what’s really scary is how quickly their narrative is getting picked up — just look at how their narrative surrounding campus jobs has spread. Outlets like the conservative Oregon Catalyst and the pro-corporate Oregonian lead the charge, and suddenly, their anti-worker rhetoric is treated like real news. Here in Oregon, The Albany Democrat-Herald, The Statesman Journal, KVAL, KEZI, KOBI, and Jefferson Public Radio have each published articles decrying SB 1532’s effect on universities, and national media is paying attention now too: The Daily Caller, Breitbart, and The College Fix have each repeated the same old talking points.

The Takeaway:

We raised the wage for working Oregonians, but for corporate interests and the wealthy, the minimum wage fight was just one battle in their war on working families. If we’re going to defend Oregon’s progressive values, it’ll take all of us standing strong together. The next big fight comes in the form of a series of ballot measures that attack labor unions and migrant communities. We can win that fight, but we’ll need your help. We’re sending a message to out-of-state special interests to tell them we’re ready — take the pledge to join us!

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