Oregon's Minimum Wage Law Goes Before Senate Panel

Mar 14, 2013

Oregon's voter approved effort to link the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index was the topic of debate at a Capitol Hill hearing Thursday.

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian
Credit Oregon State website

 The chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin. He's proposed a bill to increase the federal minimum wage. He'd like to see it increase from $7.25 an-hour to $10.10 over the next three years. But then he'd like to follow Oregon's lead and link it to the Consumer Price Index.

Oregon's labor commissioner, Brad Avakian, told the hearing that the process has been beneficial for both Oregon's workers and employers over the last 10 years, because it gives workers more money to spend in local stores.

But restaurant franchise owner, Melvin Sickler, told the hearing that by 2011, Oregon's restaurants employed 2.6 fewer workers per restaurant than they did before the change.

Commissioner Avakian responsed, "The implication that the job loss is related to the minimum wage simply is not accurate for our state."

Avakian said the decrease was a result of the bad economy instead.

Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting