New Labor Coalition Pushes for Worker Equality Proposals

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon’s five biggest labor organizations have united with civil rights and community groups in a new coalition, Fair Shot for All, to back a bold agenda in this year’s session of the Oregon legislature. It will campaign for a large minimum wage increase, paid sick leave law, “ban the box” and racial profiling laws, and legislation to create a publicly sponsored retirement plan for workers.

 

 

Groups in Fair Shot for All announced their plan at a press conference the same day University of Oregon released a report, “The High Cost of Low Wages in Oregon,” that shows a rapid increase in the number of low-wage jobs in Oregon. The report found that 412,000 Oregon workers are making a low average annual income of under $12 an hour. It was also reported that 197,000 working adults were also receiving food stamps as of January 2014.

 

 

Fair Shot for All coalition is made up of Oregon AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, UFCW, Oregon Education Association, PCUN (the farmworkers’ union), the Urban League of Portland, Family Forward Oregon, the Center for Intercultural Organizing, CAUSA, Basic Rights Oregon, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Oregon Action, and the Rural Organizing Project.

 

Each member of the coalition is determined to help pass all five proposals to counter growing inequality:

 

Minimum wage: Members are pushing lawmakers to consider two proposals, one that would raise it to $15 an hour over three years. The second would raise it to $12 an hour.

 

Paid sick days: A campaign for a statewide paid sick days laws is being organized. The proposal would apply to all employers and allow workers to take up to seven paid sick days per year. Workers would accumulate the paid sick leave by receiving one hour for every 30 hours worked.

 

Retirement savings: A proposal for states to set up a public option retirement plan would require all employers who don’t offer a retirement plan to give employees the option of contributing by payroll deduction to a state-sponsored retirement savings plan. Employees would be able to set their own contribution rate or opt out entirely. Unlike a 401 (k), it wouldn’t be tied to a particular employer.

 

Ban the Box: A campaign is being led to create a law that would ban the “Have you ever been convicted?” box from employment and housing applications. This question makes it harder to get a job for the poor and minorities. Ex-offenders would get an opportunity to explain their record and make a case for giving them a second chance.

 

Racial profiling: Members are working on a campaign for legislation to address racial profiling for minorities. First by defining racial profiling and beginning to collect more comprehensive data on it, and then by giving the state attorney general the ability to analyze the data.

 

Source: PAI