Oregon’s 2015 Legislative Session has officially come to a close.

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.

Organizing, Contract Negotiations, and the Legislature.

Everyone, it has been an interesting month. Between organizing new worksites, laying a groundwork for successful bargaining, and our Paid Earned Sick Leave bill has passed both the Oregon Senate and House.

First off, I would like to congratulate both our new Union Members at Food Front and the team that worked so hard to make the process a success. The workers at Food Front Cooperative Grocery in Portland have decided to go union. On June 2nd, workers at Food Front won an outstanding victory with more than 85% of the workers voting to make UFCW their union. I am thrilled with the outcome of this election and the strength it will bring to the workers at Food Front Cooperative. Welcome to UFCW Local 555!

With the Portland Area Grocery, Meat, and CCK contracts expiring in the near future, we have been spending a lot of time preparing for a successful bargain. Expect members from all over the state to weigh in because we are one union! Bargaining surveys are going out in the near future. We are looking at dates to begin meeting with the employer bargainers and we are excited to start the process to continue to strengthen our contracts, our benefits, and our union.

Lastly, for more than three and a half years, UFCW Local 555 has made passing a statewide Paid Earned Sick Leave law a top priority. From the very beginning, helping first to pass this law in both Portland and Eugene, Local 555 members were on the front lines of this fight because we believe that everyone can be healthier and more productive when they are given ample time to recover from sickness.

Our own Secretary-Treasurer, Jeff Anderson, is to be commended. He has spent countless days at the State Capitol working with lawmakers to make sure our union members and other workers in Oregon no longer have to go to work sick. I can say with 100% certainty that without Jeff and his commitment to all working people, Paid Earned Sick Leave would not be happening anywhere in Oregon.

Most of all, I want to thank the more than 20,000 members of UFCW Local 555. Thanks to voluntary donations, UFCW Local 555 was able to invest in field work with our partners by paying for polling, for campaign coordination, and providing printed materials that were crucial in the Portland, Eugene, and statewide efforts.

We are now working with allied organizations in Washington to bring Paid Earned Sick Leave to our members in Southwest Washington as well as other workers in the area.

Dan Clay
UFCW Local 555 President

Facts about Paid Earned Sick Leave legislation:

  • The bill would take effect January 1, 2016, and provide Paid Earned Sick Leave to any worker employed by a company with more than 10 employees.
  • The law allows workers to accrue sick time at the rate of at least one hour of unpaid sick time for every 30 hours the worker is on the clock or 1-1/3 hours for every 40 hours.
  • Employees could earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year.
  • Right now, Local 555 members working in grocery stores outside of Portland do not get sick pay the first day they are sick, but must wait till the third day they are out.
  • This bill will allow for members of Local 555 working in Oregon, and almost all working people, to be paid the very first day they call in sick.

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