The Working Families Scorecard

The Oregon AFL-CIO has released their Working Families Scorecard - which rates legislators based on their performance on issues of worker organizing rights, minimum wage, fair and adequate taxes, and more. There were 25 bills that they used to rate legislators, listed here. The full scorecard is here.

Who did the best?

Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland)
Sen. Bill Morrisette (D-Springfield)
Sen. Charlie Ringo (D-Beaverton)
Sen. Frank Shields (D-Portland)

Rep. Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene)
Rep. Terry Beyer (D-Springfield)
Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland)
Rep. Jackie Dingfelder (D-Portland)
Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene)
Rep. Steve March (D-Portland)
Rep. Mary Nolan (D-Portland)
Rep. Diane Rosenbaum (D-Portland)
Rep. Chip Shields (D-Portland)
Rep. Carolyn Tomei (D-Milwaukie)
Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie)

Among Republicans, Senator Ben Westlund (R-Tumalo) got 68%, Rep. Vicki Berge (R-Salem) got 59%, and Senator Frank Morse (R-Corvallis) got 56%.

The worst?

Senator Charles Starr got 38%, Senator Ted Ferrioli got 41%, and Senator Doug Whisett got 42%. Speaker Karen Minnis got 36%, Rep. Chuck Burley got 40%, Rep. Jeff Kropf got 40%, Rep. Susan Morgan got 40%, Rep. Kim Thatcher got 41%, Rep. John Lim got 42%.

See the whole scorecard here.

  • Don Saxton (unverified)

    Again, Karen Minnis has shown her true colors when it comes to ordinary working citizens of Oregon!! The people listed as worst should be ashamed of their assaults against people of lesser means raising themselves higher on the ladder!!!! The ones who voted the best should be given "Ata Boy's (and Ladies)' for doing what is right. EVERYONE should have a right to improve their life through any Legal means including Organizing and forming Unions!! Oregon has always been a leader in Worker's Rights once they have been "enlightened", Indeed, Oregon is now at odds with the current Federal Administration, because we feel a person's work is worth more than the National Minimum Wage, and Health Care for all is an attainable goal, if not a true Right in itself!!! May the enlightened Legislators keep the flame alive for Oregon's working Families!!!!

  • Brian Simmons (unverified)

    Don, What we "feel" a person's work is worth is irrellevant. Prices and wages are based on market value, not emotion. I agree, there are a lot of people out there who work hard and don't make a lot of money. But setting unreasonably high minimum wages is not going to help. Say a blueberry farmer has the option of paying a team of pickers a "living wage" or to buy a machine that will pick the berries for much less. The farmer is going to invest in the picking machine rather than pay $12 an hour for people to pick his fruit. This means that while a handfull of pickers will be making a living wage, more will be out of work. It's economics 101.

  • Rorovitz (unverified)

    Brian really oversimplifies in a way that so many do. He's describing what happens in a wonderfully oversimplified model. Even at $4 an hour, the farmer may replace the pickers if the price of the machine is cheaper, or they may still replace the workers at $3 an hour if they figure they can use the machine for many years instead of paying wages in every year.

    But that's not the question. What we are asking in unionization is this: if there is work that needs doing, why should an otherwise profitable employer be able to pay people less than what it takes to feed, clothe, shelter and gain health care for their families?

    Oh, and in Brian's world the CEO of the multi-naitional company that owns the berry farm would only be paid based on the profitability of the company right? That doesn't happen in the real world either.

  • Brian Simmons (unverified)

    Simple or not, that is what is happening. The minimum wage that applies to large, profitable companies applies to struggling businesses as well. So, while a large employer like Wal*Mart might be able to pay higher wages (not that that's an issue-after all, most of us are able to pay higher taxes, but are not forced to), Bob's Cafe down the street might be losing money. Should they both have to pay "living wages"?

    Furthermore, some jobs cannot carry a living wage. For instance, a cashier working 30 hours a week will never earn enough to support a family. This isn't because the cashier is a bad person, it is because the market demand for cashiers isn't as great as it is for doctors or engineers.

    Furthermore, when you start basing wages on need instead of ability, you give businesses an incentive to employ those with the least need, leaving those with families out of work.

    What this is all getting to is that in a capitalist system, wages must be based on ability, skill, and market demand; not need.

  • McBain (unverified)

    It seems to me that the concept of minimum wage allows an even playing field for employers and a basic standard of living for workers. To simply say that the market will produce the result based on ability, skill and demand is way too simplified.

    Capitalism is hardly the system we live in. Just look at how companies are shopping for subsidies, handouts and cheap labor. What really sets the standard in today's marketplace is how little a company can pay for its production.

    This is not just about wages. Wal-Mart, for instance, accumulates about 10 billion dollars per year in profits. Let's say that a minimum wages, according to company claims, even with indexing are lower than their average associate cost per hour. Then, how do they account for their profits?

    I think that they are very efficient. Even with higher labor costs they could be profitable and pay a decent wage, with benefits.

    So, the question from a policy stand point is - to what extent are we willing to intice captiol investment in our state at the expense of other issues (wages, tax base, schools, etc.)?

    If the state minimum wage law was written to say, a workers hourly wage is determined by their ability, skill and market demand what would that equate to? How would Oregonians like the result?

    Workers can simply refuse to produce but, that would leave them without a job (unless of course they are unionized) but, companies can threaten to leave and take capitol with them. One is called a strike, the other is searching for a positive business climate.

    At some level we need to be confident that the minimum wage is an important tool to helping workers stay afloat and protected from exploitation.

    Additionally, I would argue that the trend in minimum wage law is on the upswing. Florida has a similar law to Oregon's now, and other states will most likely follow suit. In an age where high-skilled labor is being outsourced as much as anything else, service sector jobs will be all the more important for our community's economic health.

    Hopefully we at least give those at the bottom a fighting chance. I think its the least we can do. What those workers make of it is up to them - based on their ability, skill and market demand, of course.

  • LT (unverified)

    Oh, and in Brian's world the CEO of the multi-national company that owns the berry farm would only be paid based on the profitability of the company right? That doesn't happen in the real world either.

    What was that I heard on the radio this morning--that the Costco CEO has a lower salary than the Walmart CEO, Costco pays more reasonable wages, and yet Costco stock goes up and Walmart stock goes down?

    When I proofread a friend's papers (who was in grad school working on an MBA) I read some amazing research which makes sense to me.

    HOW employees are treated does affect the bottom line. Employees who feel their work is valued and that they work for an employer who actually cares what happens to them are going to be more loyal and often more productive and stay around longer. Not to mention that healthy employees help the bottom line so some companies help with prevention programs.

    Someone I know is in the Walk to the Coast as part of Hood to Coast weekend. "Yes, the company sponsors several teams".

    Yes, this person works for a company large enough to do that. But don't try to tell me that econ 101 says the most productive philosophy is to pay the CEO an outrageous amount and drive the employees to work harder and harder while they are barely making ends meet. That sounds like 19th century economics to me.

    I thought Gen. Clark made a good point when he was running for president. His salary as a general had been a certain multiple of what a private earned. He didn't think any CEO was worth more than that multiple, certainly not 100 times more.

  • Rorovitz (unverified)

    Two further points:

    1) Brain assumes that all businesses have a right to stay open regardless of their ability to pay their workers. 'oh, feel bad for the small struggling business that can't pay a living wage'. By extension, should suppliers to the business, or the landlord, or the utility companies charge less if the company is small and struggling? No.

    Brian has the same misconception as many that businesses have more rights than workers and that if you start a business it deserves to exist. Let's face it, some businesses fail. Some succeed. That's the system we live in. Requiring companies to pay a certain level of wages, to have safe working environments is the cost of doing business.

    This doesn't even get to the point of how the struggling small business is externalizing costs by paying low wages.

    2) To clarify on the role of unions in corporations, a union negotiates the standards for wages, hours and working conditions with an individual employer. They can bargain up or down. There is no guarantee that wages will always go up.

    That is to say that workers get to negotiate wages, rather than just taking what management wants to force upon employees.

  • Brian Simmons (unverified)

    Well that's the thing, it's not up to me or you or Gen. Clark to say what a CEO can or can't make. Their salaries are set by stockholders through a board of directors.

    Walmart and Costco have many differences aside from how they pay their employees and CEOs. Implying that Costco's stock is higher than Walmart's for that one reason is pretty shortsighted.

    Also, comparing compaines like Walmart to 19th century estabishments like coal mines and textile mills is pretty hyperbolic, don't you think?

    Anyway, here's my question. Say there are two cashiers working a retail job. Nothing tough, just 30 hours a week of working a register. One is 17 and the other is 30 and has two kids. Should they be paid the same? If so, should it be a "living wage" (whatever that means), or $7.50 an hour.

  • (Show?)

    Brian - you may be right that "we" don't (and presumably, shouldn't) have the right to regulate a CEO's pay. But, we can decline to subsidize it through our tax code.

    Personally, I find it hard to believe that anyone should make more money than the president of the United States at $400k. No one makes tougher decisions, runs a bigger organization, manages more money, or has more at stake in their decisions.

    Remember, salaries are considered a business expense - so they are subsidized at the corporate tax rate. So, here's a proposal: Any salary over $400,000 would no longer get a tax deduction for amounts over that level. In other words, a $500k salary would carry a tax deducation for the first $400k, but not the last $100k.

    Would you agree with that? Why should taxpayers subsidize giant salaries larger than the president's?

  • LT (unverified)

    Brian, "nothing tough, just 30 hours a week at a cash register" implies someone who may never have worked as a cashier (as I have). If you stand all day in your job (see the topic on phat / fat) that is one thing. But many people who think a cashier job is easy either don't stand all day or don't deal directly with customers in their jobs.

    Do you think a cashier with a year of experience and a cashier with 10 years experience should be paid the same wage?

    And did I say coal mines? I was talking about the difference between, say, the supporters of Wm. McKinley as opposed to TR and his supporters.

    Look up how Al Smith and Robert Wagner became so famous in NY. One reason was their work on preventing fatalities in factory fires by requiring marked and unlocked fire escapes in all factories. In the 19th and early 20th century, owners thought nothing of blocking fire escapes. That would not be tolerated now.

  • Brian Simmons (unverified)

    Kari, I agree. Government shouldn't subsidize businesses, no matter how large or small.

    LT, I haven't ever worked a job at a cash register, but I've worked other jobs that have required all day standing. I spent last summer as a machinist, and a few years earlier I spent time as a laborer in a Smuckers cannery. Both involved 10 hour days of light to heavy manual labor.

    "Do you think a cashier with a year of experience and a cashier with 10 years experience should be paid the same wage?"

    That depends, is a cashier with 10 years experience better at his or her job than a cashier with 1 year experience? I would imagine that one could figure out the ins and outs of cashiering in a year.

    I think what you're getting at is that by virtue of staying with the company for 10 years, a cashier is deserving of higher wages. I disagree with that. Wages based purely on senority take away a person's incentive to continue climbing the career ladder.

    Sorry, I must have misinterpereted your 19th century example.

  • (Show?)

    What we are asking in unionization is this: if there is work that needs doing, why should an otherwise profitable employer be able to pay people less than what it takes to feed, clothe, shelter and gain health care for their families?

    One would think that if a company paid wages that were too low, and didn't offer good benefits, all for a relatively crappy job, it would have trouble hiring people. Yet people line up for jobs at Wal-Mart and other companies like them because it's the best they can get. No one is forcing them to take those jobs, yet they take them. Whose fault is that? It's hard to demonize a company for paying low wages when plenty of people apparently think they offer a good deal, otherwise they would quit and find a better job somewhere else.

    Sure we need a minimum wage. But there's a reason why it's called a minimum wage and not a living wage or ideal wage. It's supposed to be the bare minimum below which we don't want to stoop, but it's not supposed to be the kind of wage you can support a family of four on.

    On the other hand you have farmers, who for some reason constantly complain that they can't find enough workers, so they have to resort to bringing in illegal immigrants. If they would pay a decent wage with benefits, more people would be willing to do that work. But for some reason everyone seems to think that farm work should never pay more than minimum wage or even less than minimum wage. Then they are surprised to find out that no one wants those jobs, so they turn to hiring illegal immigrants. I don't get it.

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