Supporters of a ballot initiative that would raise the minimum wage in Portland to $18 an hour showcased a celebrity supporter Thursday night in an effort to drum up support for the measure just five days before voters go to the polls.

Actress Jane Fonda, in a prerecorded message, urged Portlanders to vote Yes on Question D, which would raise the minimum wage for all workers to $18 an hour by 2025 and eliminate the tip wage credit. Fonda made her remarks during a tele-town hall sponsored by One Fair Wage Portland.

During her prepared remarks, Fonda referenced “9 to 5,” the 1980 film that she starred in with Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin in which three secretaries decide to get revenge on their tyrannical, sexist boss by abducting him and running the business themselves. Fonda said not much has changed for women in the workplace since then – they still face sexual harassment and low pay while trying to earn a livable wage.

Fonda said that the only thing women in low-paying jobs want is a fair wage and respect and not to be treated like “chattel.” Ensuring that women, particularly those who work in the hospitality industry, are guaranteed a minimum livable wage will ensure that they can afford a home in Portland.

“This is an historic moment that we are in and we must support these women,” Fonda said. Fonda is one of three nationally recognized figures who came out this month in support of Question D.

Hilary Clinton, the former first lady, U.S. Secretary of State, and Democratic presidential candidate, appeared in an ad for One Fair Wage last week. In the ad, Clinton said raising the minimum wage has the potential to impact 20,000 people. And on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont weighed in, writing an email to voters stating his support for the proposal to raise the minimum wage and eliminate the tip credit.


Opposition to Question D largely has focused on elimination of the tip credit, which some say could lead to lower tips for workers and higher costs for restaurants, potentially forcing closures, layoffs and bigger bills for customers. Opponents like Restaurant Industry United say that the measure could have unintended consequences.

“We understand that not only will you see job loss, tips decreased, increased automation taking the dining out of dining and increased service charges … you will also hurt the workers this legislation purports to help,” the group’s spokesman Joshua Chaisson, a server at the Porthole, told the Press Herald.

Saru Jayaraman, the president of One Fair Wage, also spoke during Thursday’s tele-town hall. One Fair Wage, a national nonprofit that is working to end sub-minimum wages for tipped workers, represents 280,000 restaurant and service industry workers throughout the United States, including 1,000 in Maine.

She said millions of workers left the restaurant industry during the pandemic. “It was difficult, if not impossible, situation for them,” Jayaraman said.

“Employers are starting to realize that unless they raise wages, people won’t come back,” Jayaraman said.

At least seven other states including California, Washington and Alaska already require tipped workers to earn the same minimum wage as all other workers, Jayaraman said.

Passage of Question D would result in raising the minimum wage to $18 an hour and result in the elimination of the tip wage credit over a period of three years. A waiter or waitress would be paid $18 an hour, in addition to being able to keep their tips. The measure also would apply to taxi drivers, ride hailing services such as Uber or Lyft, personal shoppers and delivery workers, according to a copy of the citizen initiative posted on the City of Portland’s website.

A tele-town hall is like a conference call in which an unlimited number of people dial a phone number and listen to conversations or ask questions by using their keypad. The moderator of Thursday night’s town hall said about 200 people were connected.

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