Minimum Wage

OWA Members Oppose Raising Minimum Wage: Norma Jean’s Story

Posted on: February 15th, 2016

by Marie Bowers

Oregon Women for Agriculture opposes raising Oregon’s minimum wage. OWA members share the reasons why they are personally opposed to raising Oregon’s minimum wage. Oregon Farmer & OWA member Norm Jean Fordyce shares her story.

As a small business owner I have many concerns about raising the minimum wage higher than any State in the US.

A little about myself.  When my husband Robert (Bob) Fordyce & I married in 1958 we planted 5 acres of Strawberries on rented ground and it took us 16 years to become full time farmers.  Bob worked at the cannery, and planted fir trees  for reforestation to get us through those 16 years.  We raised 4 sons and now 2 of those sons are farmers.

We have no control over the price we will receive for our blueberries that go to a processor as it varies with supply and demand.  Some years the price for our blueberries can be lower than our expenses.  We also sell picked strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries in our small farm store and hire young people to work in the store where they learn employment skills.

That would have to end if we had to pay $14.75 an hour for inexperienced workers.  We would have to raise our prices for our berries but since neighboring states have lower minimum wages it would be cheaper to buy their berries at the grocery stores.  People who want to buy local produce raised in Oregon might not be able to pay higher prices.  It will be difficult for those in Agriculture to compete with other States and foreign countries who have cheaper labor.

I am also concerned about the consumer.  Many businesses will need to raise their prices so the consumer will be paying more for food, goods and services.  Businesses will need to cut jobs in order to cut costs and still have a reasonable profit to stay in business.  Could this be a loss in tax revenue for the State?  And the Youth that could be unemployable and idle will they stay out of trouble?  Thank you for letting me tell you about my concerns.

OWA Members Oppose Raising Minimum Wage: Macey’s Story

Posted on: February 9th, 2016

by Marie Bowers

Oregon Women for Agriculture opposes raising Oregon’s minimum wage. OWA members share the reasons why they are personally opposed to raising Oregon’s minimum wage. Oregon Farmer & OWA member Macey Wessels submitted the below testimony to the Oregon Legislature in opposition.
Macey Wessel's Testimony

Tangent Facility

Oregon Plant

Oregon Plant

Oregon Plant

Holland Facility

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OWA Members Oppose Raising Oregon’s Minimum Wage: Arwen’s Story

Posted on: January 29th, 2016

by Arwen McGilvra

Oregon Women for Agriculture opposes raising Oregon’s minimum wage.  OWA members share the reasons why they are personally opposed to raising Oregon’s minimum wage. OWA member Arwen McGilvra (aka The Tech Chef a content manager and Web Developer) shares her story.

Stuck in the Middle

I was working for a local non-profit in Albany, OR when minimum wage was first increased (with a tie to the Consumer Price Index.) My job at that time required a minimum of 15 hours of continuing education credits a year as well as several mandatory certificates. New employees were unlikely to have all this training and were started at minimum wage. After 90 days, when you had your training complete, you would get a raise. After that, an annual raise based on your employee review. There was an incentive to work hard, and get additional training.

However, when minimum wage was increased, at the same time as many non-profits were struggling due to a decrease in revenue, those of us working above minimum wage did not get the raises we had earned. We were stuck in the middle. Because the money budgeted for our raises went to the new employees who had no experience and little training.

Eventually the non-profit had to restructure and lay off employees.

What many do not understand about raising the minimum wags is that it hurts the employees with tenure and experience. When the minimum wages increase their salaries do not. Businesses often end up increase their prices to make up for the cost of increased wages. So that those who are middle wage earners end up with less and less in their pockets after pay day.

As A Business Owner

Before going to work for the non-profit my husband and I owned a small coffee shop. Here again we found our selves stuck. The increasing cost of employment out striped our ability to increase our prices. Back them a large latte cost about $2.50. It’s no wonder to me that they cost almost $5 now. (Also back then Albany had 1 Starbucks and 1 Dutch Bros.) We decided to close our shop before we were forced out of business completely.

In the year after we closed several other mom and pop coffee shops in Albany closed leaving mostly the large chains.

If Oregon’s small and medium sized businesses (and non-profits) are going to survive we cannot raise the minimum wage as drastically as the governors proposal would raise it.

Arwen teaching science to a group of school children while working for the non-profit.

Arwen teaching science to a group of school children while working for the non-profit.

Additional Resources

Kate Brown’s minimum-wage proposal is reckless (OPINION)

Linn County challenges governor’s plan to raise minimum wage

A reckless wager (A global movement toward much higher minimum wages is dangerous)

2016 Legislative Priorities for February Session

Posted on: January 29th, 2016

by Marie Bowers

Oregon Women for Agriculture has identified the key legislative priorities and areas of concern for the 2016 February Legislative session. There has been over 600 bills filed for the 35 day session. It is vital that we have as many members possible participating and paying attention to what is going on in Salem.

On Thursday February 4th, OWA members will visit the Capitol to meet with their legislators. We encourage all members to attend. Please RSVP to Marie Bowers so that we are as prepared as possible. Also please make appointments with your legislators, if you need assistance contact anyone on the legislative committee.

When: 12:30PM February 4th
Where:  State Capitol

2016 Legislative Priorities – February Session

OWA OPPOSES an increase in Oregon’s minimum wage – HB 4054, SB 1532, SB 1592

  • Oregon Women for Agriculture is OPPOSED to a minimum wage that is inconsistent with the federal minimum wage. Oregon Agriculture would not be competitive with the rest of the nation or the global market. Oregon agriculture could be priced out of the market and in turn risk losing current and potential customers. 

OWA OPPOSES repeal of Seed Preemption statute – HB 4041, HB 4122

  • OWA supports the seed pre-emption statute that says that all regulation of agricultural seeds can only be done at the state or federal level.

 Legislative Concerns

OWA is concerned about the Renewable Portfolio Standard: HB 4036, and Cap & Trade Legislation: SB 1574

  • OWA supports research efforts to identify agriculture’s role in carbon sequestration. Carbon sequestration, the process by which carbon gases are captured and stored, presents potential technological solutions to the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. OWA supports development of energy sources using agricultural products and by-products when economically feasible; if noteconomically feasible, agriculture should not be required to implement practices.

Resources:

Oregon Legislature

Oregon Legislative Information (OLIS) – track bills and committees 

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OWA Members Oppose Raising Oregon’s Minimum Wage: Shelly’s Story

Posted on: January 25th, 2016

by Marie Bowers

Oregon Women for Agriculture opposes raising Oregon’s minimum wage. OWA members share the reasons why they are personally opposed to raising Oregon’s minimum wage.  Oregon Farmer & OWA member Shelly Boshart Davis submitted the below testimony to the Oregon Legislature in opposition. 

To the House Committee on Business and Labor and the Senate Committee on Workforce:

My name is Shelly Boshart Davis. My family farms grass seed, wheat and hazelnuts, we have 36 semi-trucks, and export grass straw overseas. But what we do and what we’ve always done is Agriculture.

1 in 8 jobs are rooted in Agriculture and is an important part of Oregon’s economy. 80% of Oregon’s Agricultural product leaves the state. That could end up anywhere from Japan to Arizona. We have a well-earned reputation for producing safe, wholesome, high-quality farm products and that is an advantage Oregon can capitalize on in the national and international marketplace. A minimum wage increase will have lasting consequences on the Agricultural community and because of its importance to the economy, this will affect all of Oregon.

Because Oregon’s Agriculture leaves the state, that means that both our competitors and our customer base don’t reside in Oregon. One of our top expenditures is labor – it is a high-labor intensive industry. When you increase your labor, you increase your costs. When you increase your costs, you have to increase the price of your product. We have to be profitable to survive every year, and to make it to the next harvest. Whether it’s my grass straw industry competing with Australian Oaten Hay or Oregon’s wheat competing with Ukraine – their costs will not go up.

Committees, my farm and businesses enjoy teaching the next generation about hard work and we want them to leave summer with a sense of satisfaction and money in their pocket. We sacrifice part of our slim profits and use a lot of our patience in order to do this because it’s important to us. My teenage daughter drove tractor for me last summer. And I have 2 more daughters that hopefully will be able to do the same when they get older. Have you ever known a teenager before and after their first summer job? I’ve known many, but was able to watch my daughter first hand. The difference was astounding. The learning lessons a summer job can provide can’t be beat. I hire about 35 high school and college students every year. The experience they gain is invaluable – probably more valuable than the cash they earn to pay for a car, for fuel, or perhaps college. But do you know what we will be doing if minimum wages increase? We will buy bigger equipment and hire less people. Instead of paying low-skilled employees more, businesses will invest in automation and machinery. It’s simply a sad reality in order for us to survive.

Thank you for your time on this very important matter.

Shelly Boshart Davis Family

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