Architect of Seattle's $15 minimum wage to speak at UO event

People holding signs at a Seattle meeting on the minimum wage

Jonathan Rosenblum, the architect of the Seattle’s successful campaign to become the first city to set a $15 hourly minimum wage, will visit the UO this month to give an inside look at how it all happened.

Rosenblum will discuss his new book, “Beyond $15: Immigrant Workers, Faith Activists, and the Revival of the Labor Movement.” The free public talk is set for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, in Room 175, Knight Law Center. A reception will precede the event at 4 p.m. An RSVP is requested.

Seattle’s 2014 campaign to raise the minimum wage was controversial and added to a national discussion about what is a living wage.

 “This country has been facing a crisis of inequality for some time,” said labor professor Gordon Lafer, one of the event’s organizers. “When people first started talking about a $15 minimum wage, a lot of people thought it was impossible — that fast-food workers and other minimum wage workers don’t deserve it, that employers couldn’t afford it, that elected officials would never approve it, that communities would never support it. Jonathan Rosenblum is the leader of the movement that proved all of that wrong.”

The talk will be the debut of the Feekin Speaker Series put on by UO’s Labor Education and Research Center, a program giving access to resources and expertise of the higher education system to unions and workers.

“We thought that Rosenblum’s combination of community and labor organizing, the focus on low-wage workers and the importance of the minimum wage all made this an appropriate talk to be the first Feekin speaker,” Lafer said. The series is named for Senior Instructor Emeritus Lynn Feekin, a faculty member at the UO Labor Education and Research Center for more than 20 years.

More information can be found on the event’s Facebook page, and questions can be sent to Lafer at glafer@uoregon.edu.