Oregon’s legislature raised the minimum wage in 2016 and provided for a series of increases through 2022. In December 2019, the Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) released a report describing the characteristics of Oregon’s minimum wage workers at that time and projecting changes as the wage increased. Six months ago, neither the legislature nor OCPP could have taken into account the effects of a pandemic on the most vulnerable sector of full-time workers. This program will portray the current overall employment situation in Oregon and provide details about the impact of the pandemic on a few key sectors.
Audrey Mechling opens with a look back on the findings she reviewed in the December OCPP report and provides a sobering, if not entirely surprising, update on Oregon employment, in the context of massive layoffs due to the coronavirus. Then Ira Cuello-Martinez describes the impact of the pandemic on day laborers, who work in temporary low-wage jobs where they do not have access to sick leave and cannot work remotely. Margarita Sandoval will tell about how the work lives of domestic workers have been affected. Finally, Joel Iboa reports on changes in the lives of the immigrant workers who are the focus of CAUSA and its coalition partners in the region.
Audrey Mechling is the first Chuck Sheketoff Public Policy Fellow at OCPP. She grew up in rural Southwestern Oregon and has worked as a policy aide and campaign manager. She earned a BA in politics at Willamette University and a masters degree in Public Administration at the University of Southern California.
Ira Cuello-Martinez is the Community Advocacy Coordinator at Voz, a workers’ rights education project in Portland. Voz works with older adults, seniors, immigrants and refugees, houseless, and those living with chronic illnesses. Ira earned a BA at Willamette University and was an organizer for Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN).
Margarita Sandoval is a domestic worker in Portland, Oregon. She has been affiliated with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and is an organizer with the YWCA of Greater Portland, which has the mission of empowering women and eliminating racism.
Joel Iboa is the coalition manager for CAUSA, an organization working to improve the lives of Latino and other immigrants and their families in Oregon through advocacy, coalition building, leadership development, and civic engagement. He chairs the Eugene Human Rights Commission and the Governor’s Environmental Justice Task Force. A native of Eugene, he earned a BA in political science at the University of Oregon.