By DON McINTOSH and COLIN STAUB
The Oregon Legislature’s “short session” begins Feb. 1 and must end by March 10. There won’t be time for major legislation like in the long sessions of odd-numbered years, but Oregon’s labor movement will be in Salem to promote a variety of pro-worker bills. This year’s proposals include:
- Extend overtime pay to farmworkers Following a similar move by the Washington Legislature, Oregon lawmakers will look to phase in, over five years, a requirement to pay time and a half for overtime for farmworkers, who’ve been exempt up to now. The phase-in would start next year with overtime pay after 55 hours in a week, and reach 40 hours in 2027.
- Expand child care Oregon AFSCME, which represents about 2,500 certified child care providers, will push to expand the supply of child care by increasing reimbursement rates in the state subsidized Employment Related Day Care program.
- Tackle the nurse staffing crisis Oregon Nurses Association will back a bill to create a nurse internship program to get nursing students on the job faster, and allow third parties to pay nurse licensing fees.
- Secure essential worker pay A coalition of unions will back a bill to use federal rescue funds to provide a bonus to up to 100,000 workers, including grocery, health care and nursing home workers, who’ve been on the front lines through the pandemic.
- Mandate labor peace in behavioral health Tired of taxpayer funded nonprofits lawyering up to fight union campaigns, Oregon AFSCME will ask lawmakers to pass a law barring publicly funded behavioral health contractors from spending money to oppose unionization efforts by their workers, and requiring them to work out 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 Oregon’s Capitol building. This round would include efforts to make the building better able to withstand earthquakes.