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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Religious Leaders Urge Oregon Lawmakers To Raise Minimum Wage

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network
Faith leaders and others say a prayer for minimum wage workers outside the Oregon capitol.

Religious leaders gathered at the Oregon capitol Monday to urge lawmakers to increase the state's minimum wage. It came as activists are gathering signatures to try to force a statewide vote next year.

Outside the capitol, a group that included Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Native American religious leaders and others read aloud a prayer written for farm workers by labor leader Cesar Chavez.

Rabbi Ariel Stone of Congregation Shir Tikvah in Portland called the effort to raise Oregon's minimum wage a matter of basic human dignity.

"The only way each one of us or any one of us is ever going to be lifted up is if we reach out and lift each other up,” Stone said. “And that's true socially, and it's true politically, and it's true economically."

Inside the capitol, lawmakers are meeting this week to discuss wages and other agenda items for the 2016 session. Legislative efforts to raise the minimum wage fell short earlier this year.