A labor look at the 2024 Oregon Legislature 


Organized labor notched several legislative wins in the five-week “short session” of the Oregon Legislature that ended March 7:

  • Labor standards for offshore wind projects Oregon may be on the cusp of an offshore wind energy boom, thanks to upcoming federal investments and a lease of lands on Oregon’s outer continental shelf that is set to take place at the end of 2024. Under HB 4080, a labor-backed bill sponsored by Representatives Dacia Grayber and David Gomberg, the work is more likely to be done union. HB 4080 requires contractors on offshore wind projects to provide family health and retirement benefits and be registered training agents, meaning that they train apprentices. Also, apprentices must do at least 15% of the work. Bidders would also have to have no labor law violations in the past three years. Projects that have more than $250,000 would have to make sure materials are American made. Projects also will be expected to do outreach to women, minority, and veteran workers and will have a goal of having at least 15% of work done by veterans, women, and minorities. Associated General Contractors and Oregon Business and Industry testified against HB 4080, but it passed 37-21 in the House and 17-11 in the Senate.
  • Early retirement for more public safety workers Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) recognizes the dangerous and physically stressful nature of police and firefighter jobs by giving them the option of retiring early with full benefits. HB 4045 extends that right to more occupations, including 911 dispatchers, district attorneys, and Oregon State Hospital employees. It passed 55-2 in the House and 25-5 in the Senate.
  • Christmas in March SB 5701 funded a number of items of importance to labor: arts organizations; a study of artificial intelligence by University of Oregon’s Labor Education Research Center (LERC); new Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) investments; and increased funding for childcare. The bill included more than $50 million to theaters, museums, parks, and sports facilities, and $171 million to the state’s Employment Related Day Care program. 
  • Campaign finance reform that preserves a role for unions HB 4024 sets caps for political donations and creates a campaign spending disclosure system to show who has contributed to campaigns. The caps vary depending on how many people are involved in the contribution. Under HB 4024, an individual cannot donate more than $3,300 per election per candidate, while a union could donate up to $13,200. The bill was crafted through negotiations between Oregon labor and business groups, both of which called it an “acceptable compromise” that preserves a role for advocacy groups but still addresses voters’ desire for a fair and transparent elections system. The limits take effect in January 2027. HB 4024 passed the House 52-5 and the Senate 22-6. 
  • Healthcare interpreter portal Under SB 1578, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will create an online system that allows health care providers to directly book and pay interpreters, instead of going through intermediaries for payment. Those interpreters translate for health care providers treating patients on the Oregon Health Plan, so patients who do not speak English well can understand the details about their condition, follow up appointments, and medication instructions. SB 1578 also requires OHA to start a program to recruit and retain health care interpreters to meet the demand for interpretation services, as well as seek federal funding to reimburse interpreters for services provided to Medicaid patients at low or no cost. The bill is an important win for Oregon AFSCME, which organized Medicaid-paid interpreters thanks to a 2019 law. It passed the Senate 16-12 and the House 34-21.
  • Stopping drug use on public transit SB 1553 adds “illicit drug use while waiting for or using public transit” to a list of crimes known as interfering with public transit. Those offenses are considered a misdemeanor. The bill was backed by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 and the Oregon Transit Association; it passed the House 51-5 and the Senate 23-6.


  • Clean energy tech procurement rules HB 4112 would have created rules for state agencies to follow when they purchase clean energy technology, such as giving preference to sellers that pay their workers living wages and provide retirement benefits. It also would have created a fund for loans and grants for companies that make clean energy technology and projects. It stalled in the Joint Ways and Means Committee.
  • Taking a stand against corporate control of healthcare HB 4130 would have closed loopholes in the existing laws that are meant to stop medical practices from being controlled by private equity and other corporations instead of by physicians. It would have required licensed physicians to have majority control of medical practices.
  • Behavioral health worker safety In response to an increase in injuries and deaths on the job, Oregon AFSCME proposed SB 1594 to form a work group to recommend safe staffing standards for behavioral health workers for lawmakers to consider in 2025. The measure stalled in the Joint Ways and Means Committee.


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