Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update: A Human Right
February 14, 2018
Healthcare is a Human Right
The Oregon House of Representatives made history Feb. 13, voting to pass the HOPE amendment (House Joint Resolution 203) to amend Oregon’s Constitution and recognize health care as a fundamental right.
The amendment will advance to the Oregon Senate. If the Senate passes the HOPE amendment, it will be referred to Oregon voters in the November 2018 general election. The Oregon Nurses Association has worked hard to move this important issue forward and praised the vote as a historic step to acknowledge and protect Oregonians’ basic rights.
“Today’s vote confirms what Oregonians already know: everyone deserves access to affordable health care,” said ONA nurse practitioner and business owner Diane Solomon, PhD, PMHNP-BC, CNM. "Access to health care is essential to sustain a thriving state and a healthy economy. The HOPE amendment ensures our families and neighbors can get the care they need, when they need it, without worrying about going bankrupt. Oregon has led health care innovations for decades and we can’t go back. It's time to move forward to expand health care access and protect basic rights for all Oregonians.”
Among the lawmakers who opposed HJR 203 is candidate for Governor and State Representative Dr. Knute Buehler, whose vote against HJR 203 is yet another example of him being out of touch with the values of Oregonians. First, he voted against health care funding for 66,000 Oregon kids. Then he campaigned to overturn that health care coverage in the recent special election. Now he reveals that he does not even believe Oregonians have a right to healthcare.
Time’s Up: Senator Jeff Kruse
After making national headlines and being the subject of a thorough report commissioned by our legislature for his history of sexual harassment and misconduct, Senator Jeff Kruse has resigned. Despite resigning, Sen. Kruse will continue to collect his legislative per-diem until the end of the 2018 Legislative Session. Advocates, including House Speaker Tina Kotek and Oregon AFSCME, responded on social media:
Holding those who commit sexual harassment and misconduct accountable through movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up represent a powerful shift in our country. National Public Radio recently looked at the psychological forces behind these movements to ask some important questions:
Nearly a quarter century ago, a group of women accused a prominent playwright of sexual misconduct. A Boston newspaper published allegations of sexual harassment, unwanted touching and forced kissing. For the most part, the complaints went nowhere. In 2017, more women came forward with accusations. This time, everybody listened. What has changed in our minds and in our culture so that allegations of sexual harassment and assault are being taken so much more seriously than they were in prior decades?
Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Falls Short
In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump proposed $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending, and this week he unveiled a deal which falls very short of what our country needs to see from Federal infrastructure investment.
Working people have long advocated for more federal investment in infrastructure, as a way to maintain high safety standards, to create jobs and to boost the economy. In order to achieve these goals, any infrastructure plan must contain certain key components. Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain responded to President Trump’s plan through a press statement on Monday, drawing a comparison between Trump’s short-sighted plan and Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s successful infrastructure investment efforts:
President Trump has repeatedly called for greater investment in America’s infrastructure, which is in dire need of repair. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, our country’s grade on infrastructure is a D-plus. The President has been right about the urgency and scale of our nation’s infrastructure crisis; however, his plan is nothing more than a shell game with funding for critical investments coming from anywhere but the federal government.
In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown understands the need for transportation investment. She proved that by leading the charge in 2017 to put thousands of Oregonians to work while improving our roads, bridges and expanding public transit. In contrast, President Trump’s proposal relies more on accounting gimmicks and Wall Street investors than on a new federal commitment. If he is serious about fixing our nation’s infrastructure problem, President Trump could learn a lot from Governor Kate Brown’s approach.
Take Action for Immigration & Oppose Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act
Last night, the Senate began the process to open debate on immigration. While there is still uncertainty surrounding timing of the votes and details on the bills, we do know that we have at least 30 hours of debate in front of us. Republican leadership will try to proceed to final resolution by Thursday evening. However, the debate could extend beyond this week.
That means it’s time to take action: Call the Senate today and tell them to pass a clean DREAM act, and save Temporary Protection Status by calling 855-517-9437.
Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act: Bad for Workers
Consideration of the so-called Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act is possible in the Senate at any time. The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act would deny protection under the National Labor Relations Act to many workers who are employed by tribal-owned and operated enterprises located on Indian land. Among these workers are over 600,000 tribal casino workers, the majority of whom are not Native Americans. The Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, as proposed, would strip all workers in these enterprises of their rights and protections under the NLRA.
Call the Senate today at 855-697-6678 and tell your Senator that a vote for the TLSA could cost 600,000 workers their rights on the job.