Archive for the News Archive Category

Oregon Minimum Wage to Increase $ .15

Posted in News Archive with tags , , , , , , on October 3, 2012 by pdxrwa

by William Pilgrim

Oregon’s minimum wage will rise from $8.80 to $8.95 on January 1, 2013, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) announced in September. This is a victory for Oregon workers.  In most of the country minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and a ridiculous $2.13 per hour for tipped employees.

In Oregon the minimum wage applies to almost all workers, including those who customarily receive tips.  While the raise is designed only to match annual inflation (the overall yearly increase in prices), this wage increase, though small, means more money will be kept in our communities, and helps keep the gainfully employed out of abject poverty.

This wage translates into almost $18,000 per year before Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Income, and other taxes, barely enough for a single person to get by on, and certainly not enough for a family.  If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation over the last 40 years, it would be $10.55 an hour.

Oregon Minimum Wage to Increase $ .30

Posted in News Archive with tags , , on September 18, 2011 by pdxrwa

by William Pilgrim

Oregon’s minimum wage will rise from $8.50 to $8.80 on January 1, 2012, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) announced September 15th. This is a small but significant ongoing victory for Oregon workers.  In most of the country minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and a ridiculous $2.13 per hour for tipped employees.

In Oregon the minimum wage applies to most workers and this means that all workers in Oregon are getting a raise next year.  While the raise is designed only to match annual inflation (the overall yearly increase in prices), this wage increase, though small, means more money will be kept in our communities in the form of wages, and helps keep the gainfully employed out of abject poverty. 

This wage translates into $18,000 per year before Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Income, and other taxes, barely enough for a single person to get by on, and certainly not enough for a family.  

Know Your Kitchen! Workshops: Learn New Skills, Sharpen Your Technique

Posted in News Archive with tags , , on November 29, 2010 by pdxrwa

by William Pilgrim

The Portland Restaurant Workers Association (PRWA) is proud to present Know Your Kitchen!, a nine part series of job skill training workshops at Bargreen & Ellingson’s test kitchen facility. Led by award winning chef Andrew H. Garrett, workshops begin January 3 and will cover everything from tools of the trade and knife skills to butchery and wine paring.

Following up on the success of the first Know Your Kitchen! series, the PRWA is hosting these workshops to help restaurant workers refine or acquire new kitchen skills. The Know Your Kitchen! series will be presented with the highest degree of professionalism, while still remaining accessible to the widest possible degree of restaurant workers. The workshops will provide workers with skills they need to advance in the restaurant industry, and allow already familiar workers to hone their skills.

Andrew H. Garrett, who will be leading the classes, began his career at 16 as a dishwasher at a pizzeria in California. Since arriving to Portland, Garrett’s been the Sous Chef at 23 Hoyt and currently is the executive chef at Cafe Nell. Garrett is excited to contribute to these workshops. He’s gained recognition through the People’s Choice Award as “Portland’s Original Iron Chef,” the Oregonian’s “Restaurant of the Month” and he continues to receive accolades in the local press for his work.

The Know Your Kitchen! workshops will cover everything from the basics to more advanced skills, catering to both novice and experienced workers. The workshops are made possible by donations from the PRWA, workshop instructors, and local suppliers. A $2.00 student contribution for each class is requested in order to cover the cost of course materials. Space is limited, so registration is required.

For complete details and to register, visit Know Your Kitchen!

Know Your Kitchen! Workshop Schedule:
Classes will be held each Monday beginning in January and ending in March:

  • Tools of the Trade, Product Identification, Vegetables and Cuts: Monday, January 3 5:00-8:00pm
  • Knife Skills 101: Monday, January 10 2:00-5:00pm & 5:00-8:00pm
  • Knife Skills 102: Monday, January 17 2:00-5:00pm & 5:00-8:00pm
  • Stocks and Sauces: Monday, January 24 5:00-8:00pm
  • Butchery: Monday, January 31 5:00-8:00pm
  • Asian Cuisine Ingredients: Monday, February 7 4:00-7:00pm
  • French Cuisine: Monday, February 21 4:00-7:00pm
  • Charcuterie: Monday, February 28 4:00-7:00pm
  • Wine Knowledge and Paring: Monday, March 7 4:00-7:00pm

Workshop Location:
Bargreen & Ellingson: Foodservice Supply & Design
3232 NW Industrial St.
Portland, OR 97210

Waitstaff and Other Restaurant Workers Committed to Spreading the Word: Dudley’s Not Good for Our Bottom Line

Posted in News Archive on October 31, 2010 by pdxrwa

October 31, 2010
by Portland Restaurant Workers Association (PRWA)

The Portland Restaurant Workers’ Association and UNITE-HERE spent the last week educating workers about Chris Dudley’s statement against the minimum wage.

While Chris Dudley’s statements may not be a central campaign issue for him they touch on the central issue affecting our members’ livelihoods every day – how much money they bring home from work and whether it’s enough to support themselves and their families.

They also reflect his close ties to the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, which has continued to support a tip credit, an “opportunity wage,” and has donated almost $100,000 to the Friends of Chris Dudley campaign committee during the past year.

Chris Dudley’s support for a “tip credit” wage shows a clear misunderstanding of economics.  Cutting wages by up to 74% (from the Oregon minimum wage to the national minimum wage for tipped employees) is one of the worst things one could do during a recession.  It is a direct attack on the interests of working people.  How can we trust someone to be Governor and look after Oregon workers’ interests if they don’t understand the affects of a 74% wage reduction on those workers, and the subsequent affects on our state’s economy?

Restaurant workers are often younger and working class, and are less likely to vote than many other Oregonians.  We will be reaching out to these workers through phone banks, canvasses, and conversations at the workplace to ensure they have all the information about both gubernatorial candidates, and that they remember to vote.

Oregon Minimum Wage Increases to $8.50

Posted in News Archive on September 28, 2010 by pdxrwa

On September 20th, 2010, State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced that Oregon’s minimum wage would increase to $8.50 starting January 1st.  The 10 cent increase is a result of the 1.15% increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  In 2002, Oregon voters approved Measure 25 which requires the state adjust the minimum wage to reflect inflation as measured by the CPI.

Oregon is just one of ten states that adjusts its minimum wage based on the rate of inflation.  The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA) opposes the legislative requirement as bad for business and has organized to repeal the requirement in the state legislature in 2003, 2005, and 2009.   As a business association that represents the interests of restaurant and lodging owners who don’t live on the $17,680 per year income of a minimum wage earner working 40 hours a week, the PRWA believes that food-and-beverage workers should have the opportunity to voice their opinions and share their story about being a minimum wage worker in the restaurant industry.

To share your story, please email it to  We’d like to hear what the increase in the minimum wage means to you and your economic security.  Do you think the minimum wage represents a living wage in the Portland metro area?  Please indicate if you’d like to be contacted for an interview and please include a phone number at which you can be reached.

Giorgio’s Restaurant Stiffs Worker, Worker Demands Unpaid Wages

Posted in News Archive with tags , , , , , on August 3, 2010 by pdxrwa

August 3, 2010
by Portland Restaurant Workers Association (PRWA)

On June 29, former Giorgio’s Restaurant sous-chef Nick Dellinger contacted the PRWA after walking-out of work when his employer refused to pay him for all his hours worked and stopped payment on his last paycheck. The next day, the PRWA accompanied Nick as he presented his boss a BOLI Wage Claim, a flier to be posted in the kitchen explaining the law on final paychecks, and a detailed demand letter stating how Giorgio’s was violating ORS 652.120(1) by not maintaining a regular and consistent pay period.

PRWA: So where were you working? What was your position?
Nick Dellinger: I was working at Giorgio’s Restaurant in the Pearl District. I was the sous-chef.

PRWA: How long did you work there?
ND: I had worked there for a year at that point. Overall I had worked for the company over two years in the past three.

PRWA: How long have you been in food service?
ND: I have been in the food service industry for the past eleven years. I started when I was just a kid in my family’s restaurant. My family had several restaurants. The most well known was Porky’s Diner. A staple in the Des Moines area.

PRWA: Did you enjoy working at Giorgio’s?
ND: At one time I did enjoy working at Giorgio’s. The food was good and I was asked to take on a major role. That felt really good. Then they started really taking advantage of me.

PRWA: When did they start taking advantage of you?
ND: Giorgio, the executive chef, started taking advantage of me as soon as he realized I could do the job. That’s it. As soon as he realized I could carry the weight. I was on shift pay and I would end up working four or five twelve-hour days a week. The executive chef would come in and leave, knowing I would just take care of it. I was often working solo during very busy times. It became very mentally and physically draining. To top it off there was very little appreciation, just an expectation to continue to let it happen.

PRWA: Can you explain “shift pay”? Is that a flat rate per shift instead of an hourly wage?
ND: Shift pay is where you are paid a certain amount per shift. If you work a whole shift or half shift you are paid the same. If you work an extra day of the week the you are not paid more, because it doesn’t fall into your normal shifts. If you are sick one day of the week then you don’t get paid because it is taking away from your normal shifts. It is a salary designed for the owner. I signed on to work there knowing that was the case but unable to find food like that anywhere else. It was a phenomenal restaurant but the owner has sucked the quality out of it.

PRWA: Can you explain what happened, in terms of the dispute you had?
ND: The dispute I had was simple. I put in my two weeks notice. I had another offer, one I could not refuse. The chef said I was sabotaging him and then talked down to me for two weeks. When I got my last check, I walked out the door. By the time I went to the bank to deposit it, It had been canceled. My employer said that I took money that I hadn’t earned. I asked why, then, would they pay me the sum that was on my check if I hadn’t earned it. Ultimately he asked me to work my last two days for free. So I walked out.

PRWA: Did you have other problems in your workplace?
ND: I am certainly not the first person that has been affected by this employer. I know several very talented people who have quit, gotten fired or have been forced to move on from this place. It is a very sad and pathetic operation, with very little respect given to either employee or customer. It is all about taking advantage of people.

PRWA: How did you get in touch with the PRWA?
ND: I have a good friend whom is involved with the PRWA. The day I left, I ran into him walking in northwest Portland. I told him what had happened and he put me in touch with Emmett. Emmett and I talked on the phone a few hours that night. I went about filling out the proper paperwork, in case I might have had to file a wage claim.

PRWA: How did y’all go about resolving this? Can you tell the story of going in and confronting your former employer?
ND: The next day Emmett met me at the park and he walked me through the interaction with my previous employer. We then went together to the restaurant and asked for my check. He stood right there with me, informing me of my rights as my ex-employer tried to swindle me out of money. He was very helpful and supportive, and we walked away with a check that I felt satisfied the work I had completed there.

PRWA: What are you up to now?
ND: I live in Las Vegas. I am employed by the MGM Grand, at one of the finest restaurants in the state. I am happy to be a part of a local union and working for people who truly respect me and support what I do for them. It is a refreshing change. I do love Portland. I miss it and I cannot wait to come home. Professionally this is the best decision for me now.

Industry Survey Results

Posted in News Archive with tags , , , , , on June 4, 2010 by pdxrwa

June 3, 2010

The Portland Restaurant Workers’ Association is developing a survey in order to understand the typical working conditions and issues for restaurant workers in the Portland area. We decided to do a test run of a draft survey for the month of April and received 37 responses from people all over the city. From this initial information, we have noticed some common trends in the industry. Below is a summary of what we’ve found so far.

From here, we will be further refining the questions of the survey and launching an outreach campaign to collect input from a larger section of the restaurant industry. We look forward to finding out more from workers in the region and working toward organizing our efforts to build unity and bring about change.

From the 37 responses we found a couple notable things:

The majority of people who filled out the survey (57%) have worked in the restaurant industry for over ten years:

70% have never received a raise at their current job:

86% have never had a promotion:

When working over 6.5 hours, 59% typically don’t get a meal break:

Less than half reported having health insurance (39%), and only 13% get paid sick leave:

People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

78% have worked while sick:

These were some common practices listed in the workplace:

Routinely understaffed 20 54%
Expected to perform several jobs at once 25 68%
Verbal abuse from supervisors 17 46%
Expected to perform a job not trained for 13
Done something due to time constraint that has put your safety or health at risk 14 38%
None of the above 6 16%

People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

The survey also had a section for respondents to tell any stories they’d like to share. We received quite a few narratives regarding inappropriate and illegal workplace practices. Some examples were an establishment where workers were told to buy their own uniforms, as well as a restaurant where cooks have to work in extreme temperatures, doing prep work off the clock, taking tips to pay for labor costs, and also a story where someone was fired because they stood up to being verbally abused.

These trends imply that although the respondents are well-qualified and experienced in their profession, there is not much of a career ladder, pay scale, or respectable working conditions in this industry. It will be important to explore with future input why these conditions exist and what can be done about them.

Please note these trends are derived from a small sample of responses. We are interested to see if they are consistent with future responses throughout the city. Thanks to everyone who filled out a draft survey. Please look for a final version of the survey in June! Fill it out and tell all your friends!


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