Chris Dudley and the Minimum Wage: Whose Side Is He On?

By Scott Moore of Portland, Oregon. Scott is the communications director for Our Oregon. Previously, he worked on the campaign to pass Measures 66 and 67.

With Chris Dudley and the minimum wage, the question we should be asking ourselves is this: What does Dudley’s position say about his values and priorities?

Weeks after the release of a video showing Chris Dudley’s opinion of Oregon’s minimum wage, it’s interesting to see the Dudley campaign now trying to spin away from his candidly inelegant (and borderline incoherent) comments.

This pained exercise in parsing has played out in the press, too. Unfortunately, much of the back and forth has only served to obscure the most important fact Dudley made clear from his comments: Chris Dudley is out of touch with what it means to be a struggling family in this economy. And worse, he doesn’t really seem to care.

His words and actions speak volumes about whose side he’s on—and it ain’t ours.

Here are the facts that not even the Dudley campaign can deny: When a forum audience member stated (in the guise of a question) that the state’s minimum wage is bad for business and brings the “wrong” kind of people here, Dudley’s first, immediate response was “I agree with you on that issue.”

He then expanded, approvingly repeating claims from restaurant owners that “it doesn’t make sense that our waitresses are getting tips plus the highest minimum wage in the country.”

His first response wasn’t “I understand how hard it is to be a small business owner, but our first priority has got to be protecting the working families who are struggling just to get by and feed their families in this economy.”

It wasn’t “Our path to economic recovery is not paved with further lowering wages for those who’ve been victimized the most by the recession.”

And it wasn’t “What we really need to do is crack down on the Wall Street banks and credit card companies who are gouging working families and small businesses alike.”

No. His answer was that “it doesn’t make sense that our waitresses are getting tips plus the highest minimum wage in the country.”

The Dudley campaign can attempt to spin their way out of this hole, but his position is crystal clear.

This is a question of values and priorities. Chris Dudley can’t begin to understand what it means to raise a family on minimum wage. And he doesn’t seem to care. He’s spent his entire career surrounded by millionaires and multi-millionaires. His campaign is being funded and advised by corporate lobbyists who only care about increasing their bottom line.

I invite you to watch the video again, but instead of trying to parse Dudley’s words for a concrete position, ask yourself this: Whose side is Chris Dudley on?

Is he on the side of low-wage service industry worker? Is he on the side of hard-working middle-class families? Or is he on the side of the corporate lobbyists running his campaign?

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    As evidenced just today during the Statesman Journal discussion. The candidates were told about a woman who I believe was 63 years old, struggling financially and truly representative of the sputtering Middle Class and lower wage earner. Dudley used the beginning of his time answering to go back to the prior question about beholden donors and cover their asses some more. Unbelievable. He just doesn't get it.

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    Can you provide some data on how many households w/ children in OR there are that have total household income at or below $17,472.


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      I can't but these guys can ...

      I had thought you intelligent enough to do this yourself.

      160k kids, 530k adults are living in poverty as of 2009.

      Poverty level for a family of 2 is $14.5k (I included this because many families are single mother and child) for a family of 3 it's $18,310.

      I'm going away now cause you never seem to stand for anything and this inane nonsense is frankly boring.

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        1. Didn't address my question at all. Just gave raw numbers.

        2. Since "what I stand for" seems to be of great concern for so many, here you go: You, or anyone, can ask me my position on any specific issue you are curious about. I will give you as specific and concise an answer as I can.

        Just to get you started, I will start with:

        Abortion: 100% pro choice. I am all in favor of options to elective abortions, but I am totally pro choice.

        Gay marriage: What are we waiting for. Let the parties begin! Equal rights for all.


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          Michael, you might ask why so many people here seem to think you're a conservative, Republican troll.

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            Hell, thats easy. I don't march lock step with the blue army. When I commented on red sites, it was the reverse. It is easier to label someone that disagrees with you than to listen to them.

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              I don't march in "lockstep" either, but I do have sympathy for people who have been impoverished by the GOP/Libertarian agenda over the last 40 years.

              Wealth inequality is the highest it's ever been, with the top 20% owning 84% of the nation's wealth, and the top 40% owning 96%. That means that 60% of this country is living off of 4% of the wealth this country possesses, and I can tell you directly that all of them, when they can find work, do so a lot harder than the Paris Hiltons of America do.

              You're welcome to post on B.O., but please don't pretend you're just an independent minded progressive. Your attacks on the starving-poor and the programs to help them peg you as a far-right Libertarian without much empathy for anyone who wasn't born in as good economic circumstances as you were (you've clearly never been poor a day in your life).

              There will always be people proverbially "born on third base", and that in and of itself isn't awful. But if you want any sort of respect around here, don't pretend to yourself or anyone else that you hit a triple, or that people less fortunate are somehow inferior and deserve the circumstances they are in.

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                "You're welcome to post on B.O"

                I am glad I have your permission--thank you

                "Your attacks on the starving-poor and the programs to help "

                I literally have no friggin clue what you are ranting about. I don't recall a single discussion on BO about food banks or anything like that. If you consider my suggestion that a couple of early 20 somethings making min wage might want to consider living together to share expenses an attack on the "starving poor," well then I apologize for offending your delicate sensibilities.

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      Michael, I'm starting to think you only come here to set up strawman arguments. One think you have to admit you do a lot is answer questions with questions.

      So what are you driving at?

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        I can understand where you are coming from since I tend to only comment on the couple of issues where I tend to disagree with the majority of BO posters. I find little value in posting "yup, I agree" on post where i do agree you. That being said...

        I have a background in numbers[accounting degree]. When discussing an issue, I feel more comfortable when there are numbers involved to support a persons POV. The author of this article stated "Chris Dudley can’t begin to understand what it means to raise a family on minimum wage." All I want to know is how many families in OR are supported by the minimum wage. Nothing more sinister than that. Just curious as to the data behind the statement. [For what it's worth, I have never made more than $60k in any year in my life(and there were only a couple of those) and I have NO idea what it would be like to raise a family on min wage either.]

        Hope this made sense :-)

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          If someone had offered a specific number and you found it suspect, then a challenge was in order. On the other hand, loving numbers as you do, why don't you go find out the answer and tell us the number and why you think it's relevant to the discussion?

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            1.Not a challenge, just a query. 2.As great as google is, if you don't know how to phrase the question, it can be hard to find the answer. I assume that someone on BO probably has this type of data at their fingertips and can share. 3.Mr. Moore made it relevant when he made the statement.

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          Wait a tick, you just got done whining that all Bruce gave you down thread was raw numbers of people living below what min. wage pays.

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            Whining....okay, I guess we have different definitions of that term as well.

            What I was interested in was was how many households live below min wage and his data was for people living below poverty, which as you know, is a sliding scale.

            Forget I asked. It's not that important.

            Do you have a question to ask me below?

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              The point Michael was that everyone living under the poverty line (the raw numbers Bruce provided) are making less than full time at min. wage.

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                Not true. You could be making $30K per year and still be below the pov limit if your household size 7 or above, for example.

                For a family of 4, the pov line is $10.60/hr [extended out], well above OR min wage.

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    Whose side is Dudley on? His own side, of course. He claimed a $350,000 tax deduction for having the Lake Oswego Fire Dept. give him a free demolition of a house on property he bought. Such a deal! I'd call that welfare for the rich. No such benevolence for waitresses.

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    Reality Check. Great piece. Glad someone is calling that campaign out for flip-flopping faster than a pancake. I don't like calling people liars but sometimes a spade is a spade. He said these things in a candid and I believe very truthful moment, and now his handlers are telling him "no"!

    The result? This pattern of denial. Sad, really.

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    This morning's Statesman Journal headlines the joint appearance of Duds and Kitz. Dudley confirmed his "training wage" scheme, and his position that waitresses make too much money and tips should be deducted from their wages.

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    People keep talking as if a "training wage" is going to replace the minimum wage. If anyone knows just a smidgen about employment law, that's not possible. You can't pay people less than what the Feds mandate. And training wages can only be used for certain people (usually teen workers), and for a certain amount of time before the wage goes back up to minimum wage levels.

    I don't agree with training wages, but it gets annoying when I hear people spin information to make a candidate look bad. Dudley has done this to Kitzhaber, and it's just as annoying.

    Someone day (in my wildest dreams, no less) people will be able to honestly disagree with a candidate or someone for an opposing political party without half-truths, character assassinations, and insidious remarks.

    But that would be too mature, wouldn't it?

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    I must admit that SDM's comment above really bothers me. I don't know if he is just being a crank b/c of some perceived opinion that I hold, or he really does think what he said about me was true.

    I don't know if this happens because maybe I don't elaborate enough on some statements I make, or my thought process doesn't translate well in a brief posting.

    No matter the reason, I can assure you that I DO NOT HATE "the starving-poor."

    As I posted above, any poster here is free to ask my position on any topic and I will gladly try and answer.

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    hmmm... since no BlueOregon editor is willing to do the job, perhaps this guest author - steeped in progressive credentials - could write his next piece articulating why Kitzhaber's push for a sales tax is good for Oregon in 2010.

    This is especially timely since the WWeek caught another Democrat in a sales tax lie.


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    As a single parent, my mother worked for 35 bucks a week and tips to support my brother and me. She never took a vacation in her life, and she needed those tips.

    Thanks to her, I was the first male in my family to graduate from high school and then college. I remembering her setting change aside to buy us an encyclopedia.

    I identify with workers like her, as you might imagine, rather than former a NBA player who couldn't score and got not 35 bucks but 350 thou for burning down his home.

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