December 5, 2008 Volume 109 Number 23

AFL-CIO prioritizes ‘09 legislative agenda

The Executive Board of the Oregon AFL-CIO on Nov 18 approved five legislative concepts that it will introduce when state lawmakers convene in Salem in January 2009.

The state labor federation will lobby for bills that:

  • Change the definition of “managerial employee” back to its previous definition of “supervisory employee” in the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act. The definition was changed in 1995’s Senate Bill 750 to exclude some employees from being eligible to join a union.
  • Require state governmental departments to demonstrate an actual overall cost savings that is not based solely on lower pay and benefits, before public-sector jobs can be contracted out to private for-profit and non-profit companies. Under the proposal, displaced workers would be offered jobs with the contractor at current pay and benefits.
  • Establish labor standards for business energy tax credits and renewable energy. The 2007 Legislature increased business energy tax credits for renewable enterprises, but the statute did not define labor standard requirements. The AFL-CIO bill would specify that 80 percent of jobs covered should be full time, local jobs that pay a living wage of at least 300 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four, and should include health insurance and paid leave. Businesses receiving energy tax credits would have to file an annual report showing they are meeting the criteria.
  • Make it illegal for employers to hold “captive audience” meetings relating to religion, politics and union organizing and give employees the right to sue their employers if they are disciplined or fired for not attending such meetings.
  • Reform Oregon’s Products of Disabled Individuals Law. The current law, written in 1977, allows non-profit qualified rehabilitation facilities to take public contracts without competitive bidding, and requires them to replace the current workers doing the job with workers who are disabled. The law is administered to allow literally anyone with any type of disability to qualify, regardless of severity or degree. The state labor federation’s proposal would redefine severely disabled.


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