You may remember that one reason that Chris Dudley is not currently Governor of the State of Oregon is that he was on record as saying that Oregon's minimum wage is too high. Now, Lane County State Rep. Val Hoyle is facing a Republican opponent who apparently believes that the State should not have a minimum wage at all.
Val's district should be reasonably safe for a Democrat, but she's taking nothing for granted; the R's have poured $325,000 into Dwight Coon's campaign. You would think the Republicans would be careful to nominate someone somewhat moderate to try to take out Val. But just a few weeks ago, in response to a question about the minimum wage, Coon said that although maybe there should be local standards, the minimum wage should not be "mandated down from the state level." In other words, the working poor should have to fight the Oregon Restaurant Association and other special interests hand-to-hand, in every town, for the right to a decent wage.
Since then, of course, Coon has frantically backtracked, saying he just supports a "training wage" for teenagers. But he said what he said and it's on tape. (To find the link to the audio, go into Facebook and search for "Dwight Coon minimum wage." I have tried to link to this directly but it doesn't seem to work http://www.facebook.com/CoonMinimum?fref=ts)
More, perhaps, than any other issue, thinking about the minimum wage makes me swell with pride that my brothers and sisters and I am on the right side. I am proud to be of the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said:
"Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you (using his stockholders money to pay the postage of his personal opinions) that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry. Fortunately for business as a whole, and therefore for the nation, that type of executive is a rarity with whom most business executives heartily disagree."
I am proud to live in a State that has one of the highest minimum wages in the nation, and that does not have a "tip credit."
When I think of all I have done in politics since returning to Oregon, I am proudest of the fact that I drafted the 2002 initiative that established our minimum wage law, and that I made the largest individual contribution to the previous, 1996 minimum wage initiative. And I am proud to have worked closely, in many contexts, with the unions and community leaders (such as now-State Senator Diane Rosenbaum) that fought for both initiatives.
And I am proud that Val Hoyle is my friend and is defending working people against the ideology represented by Dwight Coon.