Economic Reform Sought for Portland's Food Industry Workers

The food service industry is undoubtedly a driving force for the Portland economy.  According to findings from the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, Oregon is set to bring in over $6.9 billion in sales this year from restaurants alone.  In the larger Portland area, there are over 69,000 employees working in the food and beverage industry and the city spends on average $1.25 billion in wages every year.  Yet despite the massive role the restaurant industry plays in Portland's economy, many still feel that restaurant workers are being unfairly taken advantage of.

While Portland workers receive higher wages than employees in the rest of the state, the amount received is still minimal.  A bill currently in front of the House Business and Labor Committee proposes an increase to the $9.25 minimum wage that would raise the rate incrementally to $15 an hour as of 2018.  

In addition to raising the minimum wage, advocates are also looking to give the Oregon Bureau of Labor (BOLI) greater power to go after employers who have cheated their workers out of their wages.  The BOLI reported that last year, over 1,100 restaurant industry workers filed suit claiming they had not received due wages and members of the organization believe that this wage theft is only the tip of the iceberg for food and beverage workers.  

Will these bill proposals receive their seal of approval?  Read More