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Local activist, 15 Now Oregon group plans rally at Hillsboro School Board meeting Tuesday

Hillsboro resident Jaime Rodriguez says school board stand on higher minimum wage is wrong decision.

A group of people representing the minimum wage advocacy group 15 Now Oregon and Jaime Rodriguez, a former Hillsboro School Board candidate, plan to rally at the Hillsboro School District Administration offices Tuesday evening in support of a $15 state minimum wage.

The rally is in response to Hillsboro School Board members’ 4 to 3 vote earlier this month to not support legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage, Rodriguez said Monday afternoon. "That was not the right decision for the community of Hillsboro," he said.

The rally and press conference is planned for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26, a half hour before the scheduled school board meeting at the Hillsboro School District Administration Center, 3083 N.E. 49th Way.

“This vote was taken despite the fact that half of the students in the Hillsboro School District live below the poverty line. Forty percent of the district's students are Latino, and 60 percent of Latino workers make less than $15 per hour,” according to a press release announcing the rally.

“None of the school board members live in poverty. None are Latino,” the press release continued.

Rodriguez said he and others plan to attend the school board meeting and speak before the board during public comment time.

In a blogpost titled “Insulting the Poor,” by board member Erik Seligman on his blog seligman4schools, he explained his reasoning in proposing the board take formal action to oppose a $15 minimum wage, including arguments that increasing the minimum wage will cause already-struggling businesses to fail and will create “a disincentive for businesses to hire, increasing unemployment.

“These are serious arguments put forth by well-intended businessmen, politicians, and economists, pointing to many ways in which the minimum wage increase theoretically might not be good for the poor,” he wrote.

“If you say that opposing the minimum wage increase is insulting or insensitive to the poor, you are effectively saying that those below the poverty line are not intelligent enough to understand the arguments above. You are effectively implying that they can only understand the minimum-wage-advocate talking points about minimum wage increases helping the poor, and cannot seriously engage with the substantive arguments on both sides of this very important issue, or understand that many of us seriously believe the minimum wage increase would hurt, not help, them.”

District Superintendent Mike Scott advised board members during their lengthy debate on the topic Jan. 12.

“There’s a certain amount of politics around this,” Scott said. “I don’t know if that’s a position a school board should be taking. There’s a sensitivity around it.”