The idea of a $15-an-hour wage floor is continuing to gain momentum locally. On Feb. 18, Portland City Council will hold a hearing about updating the City’s 20-year-old living wage ordinance, which sets minimum wage and benefit levels for several groups of contract employees: janitors and security guards at City buildings, attendants at City-owned parking lots, and some workers at the City-owned soccer stadium, Providence Park.
Under the City’s current Fair Wage Policy, the workers must be paid at least $10.38 an hour plus $1.92 an hour for benefits. The group 15 Now PDX is calling for that minimum to rise to $15 an hour, and benefits to $2 an hour — effective Jan. 1, 2016. Commissioner Dan Saltzman is in favor of that proposal, which is also backed by Laborers Local 483 and by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49, which represents janitors and security guards.
“We want to see it as a springboard, challenging private sector owners to step up,” said Maggie Long, Local 49 organizing director.
City Council will take public feedback on the issue Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. at City Hall, and could vote on an increase then or at a later date.
If a $15 minimum passes, the City would become the third Portland-area government body to set that standard for at least some workers, following Home Forward (the local public housing agency) and Multnomah County. It would also mean sizable raises for over 100 workers, including about 62 janitors employed by Portland Habilitation Center and about 30 security guards employed by G4S. The janitors currently make $12 to $13.80 under their union contract, and the security guards make $12 to $14.50 under theirs.