Two weeks into her role as Oregon’s labor commissioner, Val Hoyle told a gathering of 200 union officers that her number one priority will be to restore funding for her agency, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). Hoyle’s predecessor Brad Avakian never made that an issue during his eight years in office.
“I want to make sure workers in this agency have the resources they need to get the job done,” Hoyle told attendees at the Oregon Labor Law Conference Jan. 25.
Hoyle said BOLI today has half the staff it had two decades ago, even as Oregon has grown in population, and the agency has more laws it’s responsible for enforcing. When Jack Roberts began as labor commissioner in 1995, BOLI had 200 staff members. Today it has 97, including just a dozen compliance specialists who are responsible for enforcing minimum wage, overtime, prevailing wage, and sick leave laws for 2 million Oregon workers. BOLI also enforces civil rights laws, and oversees apprenticeship training programs.
“My number one priority is to get the resources to hold employers accountable when they’re not doing the right thing,” Hoyle said.
Hoyle said she will ask Oregon lawmakers to step up and restore BOLI funding this year.