Labor leaders and workers are pushing for a referendum to increase the minimum wage in Portland
A group of local labor leaders and food service workers spoke out on Wednesday in favor of a Portland ballot question that would boost the local minimum wage to $18 an hour by 2025.
At a press conference on Wednesday, workers and representatives of the organization "One Fair Wage," criticized hundreds of thousands of dollars in total donations from Uber, DoorDash, and the National Restaurant Association to committees opposing the new measure.
Democratic State Rep. Mike Sylvester said he has heard that many workers are being told by supervisors that tips would be eliminated if the measure is passed by voters next month. But he said the measure provides the increased minimum wage, as well as tips.
"And it's literally a 30-second conversation with many, many workers," Sylvester said. "Now, many workers have their own opinions. And that's fine. But I've talked to very few workers who are able to survive off of the minimum wage in this city, and are happy with that."
Greg Dugal, with HospitalityMaine and the ballot committee "Restaurant Industry United," said his group has never claimed that the ballot measure would eliminate tips. But he said it could severely alter tips for restaurant workers, many of whom support the current system, in which some make more than $30 or $40 an hour.
Dugal also defended the outside groups' donations as a way to assist local businesses.
"And actually, Uber Eats and DoorDash actually reached out to us and said that they had been hearing from their partner restaurants that this would potentially be very bad for their businesses," Dugal said. "And they wanted to see if there was any way that they could assist in our efforts to be able to keep the tip credit."
Supporters say several local restaurants have already raised wages for their servers in recent months.
Portland residents will vote on the measure next month.