Will Gordon Smith defend Oregon's minimum wage?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

[UPDATE: No, he won't. Senator Smith voted to override and gut Oregon's minimum wage law, though the amendment failed. Discuss your reaction in the comments. -Editor.]

Gordon SmithAs you may know, the U.S. Senate is discussing bankruptcy reform. In the midst of it, Senator Ted Kennedy has proposed bumping the minimum wage to $7.25 by 2007. Why? Because as he puts it, minimum wage workers are just "one pink slip or one medical emergency away from bankruptcy."

Meanwhile, everyone's favorite right-wing reptile, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), has offered his own minimum-wage proposal. Sure, it includes a raise to $6.25 (below Oregon's state minimum), but here's the disingenous part: It would override state and local laws on tip credit.

That's right. Rick Santorum's amendment would wipe out a key element of Oregon's progressive minimum wage law without any corresponding benefit to Oregonians.

Now, we can argue all day long about whether Oregon's law is a good or a bad thing. (My take? It's a very good thing.) But, this much should be crystal clear: In the laboratories of democracy that are the fifty states, Oregon's law is a meaningful and important contribution.

The federal government should not override this state law, passed by Oregon voters overwhelmingly. Here's the question: What will Oregon's own Gordon Smith do? Will Senator Smith stand with Oregon voters - and defend Oregon's minimum wage?

The vote is today.

Write to Gordon Smith and tell him what you think.

  • brad (unverified)

    Yeah, he'll probably defend Oregon's minimum wage law just like he's been out front defending Oregon's Death With Dignity Act. After all, the GOP is all about state's rights.


  • paul h (unverified)

    Santorum's amendment failed, but Smith voted for it:

    roll call vote

  • Aaron (unverified)

    What is interesting that Lott, Chafee, Chambliss and Cornyn all voted no?

    What is Gordon Smith gunning for a senior leadership position(the chair of the RPC???) since Frist is retiring and KBH might run for Gov of Texas?

    This vote could be the start of good news for D's in 2008 here in Oregon!!!

  • LT (unverified)

    Chambliss and Cornyn voted NO? I already admired Chafee, and Lott may well believe in states rights after all. But I never had anything nice to say about Chambliss and Cornyn. Gee, what a nice way to make a point about Gordon! "If Chambliss and Cornyn voted to protect state's rights, what was your problem?"

  • ron ledbury (unverified)

    If the efforts of labor give Congress the “authority” to mandate minimum wages then it necessarily gives Congress the “authority” to set limits on the states. The difference in the arguments, and purposes, are only marginal compared to the greater scope of whether or not to have any federal minimum wages. The difference then becomes one of merely counting votes. This becomes a perpetual political battle year after year.

    If labor focused instead upon gaining greater rights to organize then, theoretically, it could be a more durable protection. The only match to a corporate collective is a labor bargaining unit of the size and scope of the jurisdiction and class of persons being identified in economic regulation.

    The nuclear option, noted by Tim, has many parallels in other contexts.

    Ask yourself why I oppose Ted's health care plan for Oregon teachers? As contrasted to negotiated benefits, it can be used as a future weapon in like manner to that of the Santorum amendment. (There are other non-labor related factors too.)

  • (Show?)

    Ron, you write, "If labor focused instead upon gaining greater rights to organize then"...

    Are you suggesting that they're not? If so, are you kidding?

    Of course labor is working on gaining greater rights to organize - or put another way, working to stop the massive right-wing project to limit the right to organize.

    And don't forget the value of a highly popular campaign around an easily understood issue (like minimum wage) to demonstrate the viability of organizing and to motivate the troops.

  • (Show?)

    Wayne Allard (R-Co) also seems running scared for reelection in 2006, having voted against this. Udall seems to be a real threat, with Salazar having just beaten Coors...

  • (Show?)

    The answer to the question in this post's title is: No. So says the Democratic Party of Oregon:

    "Smith Votes ‘No' On Wage Increase, ‘Yes' on Proposal that Preempts Oregon Laws"

  • (Show?)

    Evan, Allard is up in 2008. He also pledged in 2002 not to run again. Udall has announced. Lots more info over at WesternDemocrat.com

  • John (unverified)

    This is so disgusting!

    I heartily recommend calling Smith's office and letting him know how disappointed you are, but instead of giving him the usual liberal perspective, tell him you're against the ovvereaching power of the federal government interferring with what people in their own states want.

    Offices: Portland: 503-326-3386 Washington, D.C.: 202-224-3753 Eugene: 541-465-6750

    The key is making Oregon conservatives disillusioned with their own guy. All it takes is a few thousand Repbs staying home on election day 2008. We can use Smith's desire for power against him with the conservative ideologues in Oregon. I am rooting for Rep. Peter DeFazio to run against him in 2008, but let's all think about it--starting now!

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