By DON McINTOSH and COLIN STAUB
The “short session” of the Oregon Legislature begins Feb. 1 and is due to end March 10. There won’t be time for major legislation like in the long sessions of odd years, but the Oregon labor movement will be in Salem promoting a variety of pro-worker bills. This year’s proposals include:
- Extend overtime pay to agricultural workers Following a similar move by the Washington Legislature, Oregon lawmakers will seek to phase in a five-year, 1.5-hour overtime requirement for agricultural workers, who have until now been exempt. . The phasing-in would start next year with overtime pay after 55 hours per week and reach 40 hours in 2027.
- Develop child care Oregon’s AFSCME, which represents approximately 2,500 certified child care providers, will work to expand child care offerings by increasing reimbursement rates under the program state-subsidized job-related child care.
- Tackling the nursing workforce crisis The Oregon Nurses Association will support a bill to create a nursing internship program to fast-track work for nursing students and allow third parties to pay nurses’ licensing fees.
- Securing the wages of essential workers A coalition of unions will back a bill to use federal bailout funds to provide a bonus to up to 100,000 workers, including grocery store, health care and nursing home workers, who have been in front line during the pandemic.
- Mandating Work Peace in Behavioral Health Tired of taxpayer-funded nonprofits battling labor campaigns, Oregon’s AFSCME will ask lawmakers to pass a law banning public funding behavioral health contractors to spend money opposing their workers’ organizing efforts and forcing them to enter into a labor harmony agreement in the event of a union campaign. The proposal is based on a similar law in New Jersey.
- Fund Capitol Renovations The Oregon Building Trades Council will support proposals for a third round of funding to continue the renovation of the Oregon Capitol. This cycle would include efforts to make the building more earthquake resistant.