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One Minimum Wage Campaign Suspends Initiative, Another Continues

A measure that would increase the mimimum wage in Oregon to $15 per hour could appear on the ballot in 2016.
Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries
A measure that would increase the mimimum wage in Oregon to $15 per hour could appear on the ballot in 2016.

One of the initiative campaigns to raise Oregon's minimum wage announced Monday that it's ending its signature-gathering efforts. But a separate campaign says it will keep trying to get an initiative on the November ballot.

The group that's stopped gathering signatures is largely backed by unions. Their initiative would have raised the statewide wage to $13.50 per hour over the next few years. Oregon lawmakers have approved a measure that would hike the base wage as high as $14.75 an hour in the Portland area, but it wouldn’t fully kick in for six years. Smaller cities would see a smaller increase.

The initiative backers acknowledged the slower timeline but said the legislative version is overall a win for Oregon workers.

But a separate group called Oregonians for 15 said it isn't backing down. Their initiative would raise the statewide wage to $15 per hour over the next three years. The group says the bill approved by lawmakers is "too low and too slow."

Oregonians for 15 has already turned in more than 30,000 signatures, according to the Oregon Secretary of State's office. They'll need 88,184 valid signatures by July in order to qualify for the general election ballot.

Oregon lawmakers gave final approval on February 18 to the bill that would raise the state's minimum wage over the next six years. Governor Kate Brown has until the end of the day on March 3 to take action on the bill. Her office says she intends to sign it.

Copyright 2016 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.