Initiative to limit self-checkout grocery stations moves forward

WORK AS A CHECKER … FOR FREE! (Retailers love you to do their work.)

The Oregon AFL-CIO is moving forward with a ballot initiative to limit self-checkout machines in grocery stores. On Sept. 5, the union federation turned in the first 1,500 signatures.  That starts a process in which the Oregon attorney general writes a draft ballot title — the exact wording that would appear on ballots summarizing the measure. Once the ballot title is set, the Oregon AFL-CIO would need to gather 112,020 valid signatures by July 2, 2020, to qualify the initiative for the November 2020 ballot.

The initiative would limit grocery stores to two self-service checkout stations per location. The rationale for that is laid out in the text of the initiative. Self-checkout stations turn customers into unpaid employees and allow grocery stores to decrease labor costs and customer service, the initiative says. And their increasing use contributes to social isolation, leaves retail workers feeling devalued, and results in longer lines for customers who want to use check-out stands staffed by a cashier.

“The widescale use of self-checkout machines in our state’s grocery stores is part of a deliberate corporate strategy that relies on automation to reduce labor costs and eliminate jobs,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain, the chief petitioner on the initiative, in a press statement.

It also inconveniences customers, Chamberlain said, especially seniors and people with disabilities. “That is why we are putting this issue on the ballot, to send a message to corporate America and to let Oregon’s voters have their voice heard on how we shop for the goods and commodities that our families rely on.”

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