2016 Legislative Session
The 2016 Legislative Session has started, and it’s shaping up to be a busy one. There is a slew of important legislation being considered in Salem that will have a significant impact on the working people of Oregon.
Here’s a rundown of what lawmakers are working on during the next few weeks, and how you can get involved:
RAISE THE WAGE - SB 1592/HB 4054
It used to be that working a full-time job meant you could support yourself and your family – but for too many Oregonians, that’s not true anymore. An Oregon worker earning minimum wage takes home less than $20,000 a year. No matter where you live, that’s not nearly enough to afford housing, food, gas and other necessities for a family, let alone pay for childcare or save for the future. Oregon’s current minimum wage is just not enough to live on. Raising the wage will give more Oregonians a chance to be self-sufficient and to better provide for themselves and their children.
STOPPING WAGE THEFT - SB 1587
Oregon families are working harder than ever to make ends meet, but even when they put in an honest day’s work, they’re not always paid so honestly. Wage theft covers a variety of illegal employment practices that deny workers the wages they’ve earned. Examples of wage theft include employers paying less than the minimum wage, refusing to pay overtime, forcing employees to work “off the clock” or “under the table”, issuing paychecks that bounce, stealing tips, denying legally-required breaks, or flat out not paying workers at all. Oregon law doesn’t always protect workers who experience wage theft, who are often immigrants, women, people of color and low-wage workers. While most employers in our communities do right by their workers, too many do not. It’s time to enforce our current wage laws end workplace abuses that leave too many workers and their families shortchanged.
Get involved: Attend a hearing and advocacy day tomorrow in Salem, starting at 10am. Click here to RSVP.
EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE FOR LOCKED-OUT WORKERS
Lockouts are hard on working people and their families. A lockout forces workers to live on the very modest unemployment insurance which can make it difficult to provide for their families, even before the unemployment insurance period ends. Both during the unemployment insurance period, and once unemployment insurance ceases, working families face significant financial hardship, including debt, losing their home, and much more. Extending the unemployment period for locked-out workers will provide necessary protection and some relief for working people in what is always a very challenging time. This bill will provide up to an additional 26 weeks of unemployment insurance for locked-out workers, resulting in total of 52 weeks (one year) of unemployment insurance and should a lockout end before the additional 26 weeks are utilized, the unemployment insurance will end when the lockout stops and workers return to the job.
Get involved: Attend a hearing in Salem, in the Capitol (hearing room HR E) at 8am on Friday, February 5th
PSU Graduate Employees Stand Together to Improve Working Conditions on Campus
Throw a Union-Made Super Bowl Party!
Regardless of whether you’re cheering for the Broncos or the Panthers on Sunday, make sure your party is stocked with snacks and drinks made by union members.
Senator Merkley Stands up For Retirement Security
Last week, Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley unveiled the American Savings Act, major new national retirement security legislation. The American Savings Act would give every worker without access to a retirement savings plan through their employer the ability to save for retirement through their own, personal retirement savings account modeled on the same high-quality retirement savings plan already used by federal workers and members of Congress. This proposed Act is similar to Oregon’s Retirement Security plan.
“It shouldn’t matter whether you work part-time or full-time, as an employee or as a contractor, or for a huge corporation or a tiny business: every American worker deserves access to a financially secure retirement,” said Merkley. “With private-sector pensions becoming rarer and rarer, Social Security and retirement savings are more important to retirement security than ever, which is exactly why we must strengthen Social Security and expand high-quality retirement savings options to all workers. This plan helps millions of American workers to save easily and automatically for retirement with tax benefits, rock-bottom fees and the same types of high-quality investment options already enjoyed by federal workers and members of Congress.”