THIS COULD BE Multnomah County's most progressive week on record.
Not only will prosecutors stop charging many of the state's inequitably enforced marijuana laws (see our story on pg. 7), but every county employee might be guaranteed a $15 minimum wage by 2016.
According to a tentative agreement between the 2,600-member American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 88 and management, roughly 150 employees—most of them pages at the Multnomah County Library—would see their pay increase in three increments beginning this year.
The deal is part of a three-year contract agreement the union reached with county officials. It has to be approved by a majority of voting members.
"We are recommending a yes vote," Local 88 President Deirdre Mahoney-Clark tells the Mercury. "We got what we asked for."
If approved, the contract marks the second time in recent weeks a local public agency has approved a $15 minimum wage. Home Forward, which oversees public housing in Multnomah County, inked a similar agreement on October 31. DIRK VANDERHART
THE WEEKS-LONG defiance that launched a Portland immigrants' rights advocate into national headlines took a dramatic turn Thursday, November 6, when federal authorities had Francisco Aguirre arrested.
Aguirre, a coordinator with the Voz Workers' Rights Education Project, had been holed up in a Northeast Portland church since September, when federal agents showed up at his home to arrest him on immigration charges (they left when Aguirre wouldn't come outside).
But Aguirre was forced out of Augustana Lutheran Church to attend a court hearing in Clackamas County, where he faces a drunken driving charge. Flanked by supporters, the advocate was surprised when deputies arrested him on a federal warrant for "illegal re-entry."
Born in El Salvador, Aguirre admits to entering the country without permission. He was deported after a heroin conviction in 2000, but returned. He has since earned the support of officials like Mayor Charlie Hales for his advocacy work.
In an arraignment on Friday, November 7, US Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart ordered Aguirre released, pending trial on the federal charge. DVH