Oregon’s 2015 Legislative Session has officially come to a close. Thanks to the relentless work of a strong and unique coalition, and the support of a legislature that held everyday Oregonians’ well-being as a top priority, this session will be remembered for its Legislature that fought and won for working people.
Under the Fair Shot For All campaign, communities of color, labor unions, parent advocacy groups, and many more came together for a shared agenda to help families get ahead, not just get by. And the Legislature passed a handful of bills that will do just that:
Paid Sick Leave. Most workers in Oregon will now have access to paid sick leave, because no one should have to choose between taking care of their health and keeping their job. Making sure Oregonians can accrue a reasonable number of paid sick days each year will give us all time to recover from illness and to take care of sick kids and other family members when we need to. Hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers will now have this basic workplace protection.
Retirement Security. With the passage of the Oregon Retirement Security Bill, every worker in Oregon will now be able to plan for a secure retirement after a lifetime of work. Working Oregonians will now have access to a simple, easy and effective way to save, because everyone should be able to provide security for themselves and their families, regardless of where they work.
Ban the Box. Qualified job applicants with prior convictions and arrests — who are regularly shut out of jobs, regardless of how minor or long ago the crime — will now be given a second chance at a fair shot, thanks to the passage of House Bill 3025. Banning the box, or removing the “check box” questions about criminal history from job applications, will help Oregonians get back on their feet once they have served their time.
End Profiling. Profiling by law enforcement happens here in Oregon, whether it’s based on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, language, housing status, sexual orientation or gender identity, and there is no statewide system in place for reporting instances. Already more likely to face arrest, people in typically-suspect communities are already struggling to make ends meet and risk harsher penalties and extra fees when they can’t afford to pay the fines that result from unfair
profiling. With the passage of the End Profiling bill, law enforcement will be prohibited from this practice, and a system to report unfair profiling will be established, because people shouldn’t live in fear and cast as suspect simply because of what they look like, where they come from or what religion they practice.
We’re elated to see policies in place that would improve the lives of Oregonians, and we’re proud to be a part of the movement for giving working families a fair shot. But in response to these important victories, corporate CEOs have launched attacks on labor unions that make it harder for our coalition to continue this work: instead of engaging on the issues, special interests are attempting to dismantle the groups fighting for every worker in the state. Four ballot measures have been filed that are designed to dismantle labor unions and labor protections for working people. The goal of these measures (and other union attacks like them) is to simply stop the progress that workers are starting to gain by taking away the advocates for change.
We aren’t letting these threats stop us, though — especially because there is so much more important work ahead. The same coalition that came together for earned sick days, retirement security, banning the box and ending profiling is moving to raise Oregon’s minimum wage, because no one should work full time and not make enough money to support their family.
This session proved once again that by working together we can improve the lives of Oregon families, and ensure we all have a chance to get ahead and not just get by.
One more thing: As we gear up for the next battles, please take the time today to find your legislator online and say thank you for the good votes to make all of our lives better. They deserve our appreciation and thanks — there’s lots more to do, but we should be proud of the progress we’ve already made.