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Monday, April 7, 2014

Saltzman Rally for "Equal Pay Day" Will Include Call for Minimum Wage Hike

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Commissioner Dan Saltzman—whose shoo-in bid for re-election next month has been slightly complicated by a challenger calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage—is planning a rally tomorrow where he'll call on lawmakers to lift a state pre-emption on local minimum wage hikes and raise several other issues related to pay gaps endured by women and minorities.

Saltzman's office confirmed the planned rally (set for 2 pm tomorrow outside city hall) and said a formal announcement would be due out this afternoon. It's part of something called Equal Pay Day, a national effort meant to shine a lot on wage gaps and lay out plans to address them.

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His office also stressed that the minimum wage issue would be just one of a handful Saltzman would highlight, alongside concerns over the high cost of day care and a push to expand Portland's guarantee of paid sick time statewide.

Local and state elected officials are expected to attend, alongside advocates from groups including Family Forward Oregon, which lobbied hard for Portland's sick time ordinance. Commissioner Amanda Fritz first proposed the sick time ordinance, with Saltzman coming on board to help her navigate around concerns from the state's restaurant and grocery lobbies.

Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian also is expected to be among those gathering tomorrow. Avakian has suggested re-indexing the state's minimum wage to the federal poverty line for a family.

Saltzman's public embrace of the minimum wage followed lawyer and Concordia professor Nick Caleb's decision to throw in against the four-term incumbent and make minimum wage one of his signature issues. Caleb has the backing of Socialist Alternative, the same group in Seattle that helped a socialist professor, Kshama Sawant, win a long-shot race against an entrenched city council incumbent.

Saltzman at first told the Mercury he'd support a minimum wage between $10 and $15 while lamenting the state's 2001 pre-emption on local minimum wages—a bill muscled through a Republican-controlled legislature by the restaurant industry. Later, as Caleb's call for $15 found purchase, Saltzman said he'd call for overturning the pre-emption.

Caleb has proposed, if and/or until the pre-emption is lifted, charging Portland employers a living wage tax and paying all city workers and contractors $15 an hour immediately.

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