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Law that keeps cities from raising minimum wage is under attack.

March 12, 2015

nfib-logoBy Jan Meekcoms
Oregon NFIB

Law that keeps cities from raising minimum wage is under attack.

Oregon’s pre-emptive wage law, which generally requires that the minimum wage be set at the state level, is under attack.

As cities across the country—including Seattle, SeaTac, San Francisco, Oakland and Chicago—have established their own minimum wage ordinances within the past year, efforts to overturn Oregon’s wage pre-emption law have intensified, says attorney J. Kent Pearson, a partner at Bullard Law, a labor and employment firm in Portland.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales has said he wants his city to be able to set its minimum wage if the state legislature doesn’t act to raise it.

If the wage pre-emption law is overturned, Pearson says, individual cities could set their own minimum wage, meaning small business owners with multiple locations would be subject to a patchwork of minimum wage standards, and competitive advantage could vary widely across the state, depending on the municipality’s minimum wage.

“It is already difficult for small businesses to keep up with the federal, state, county and city policies, especially those that work in several cities or counties,” says Jan Meekcoms, NFIB’s Oregon state director. “To allow every jurisdiction to create their own laws would be an administrative nightmare, most particularly on labor issues.”

Oregon’s minimum wage is already one of the highest in the country at $9.25 per hour, but a bill introduced in the state legislature this year would raise it to $15 by 2018.

NFIB/Oregon will be pushing for the pre-emptive law to be upheld in order to protect small business owners from varying minimum wage requirements and to promote economic stability and long-term planning.

For updates on this and other small business issues, visit

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