WOODBURN, OR - Christina Stephenson, the Oregon AFL-CIO endorsed candidate for Oregon Labor Commissioner, demonstrated today why unions across the state have endorsed her campaign by visiting with farmworkers, and with ironworkers who are picketing an Amazon facility in Woodburn. Both of these visits define the values Stephenson has as a candidate with a strong record of fighting for working people.
Stephenson’s first visit today was a listening session with farmworkers. The Bureau of Labor and Industries was sued by farmworkers last year regarding overtime pay, a matter settled by the Oregon Legislature during the 2022 session where a farmworker overtime law passed, finally ending an unjust exclusion that has been law since 1938. The visit from Stephenson demonstrated her commitment to these marginalized workers whose work is essential to keeping our communities fed.
“Our Labor Commissioner must be someone who can center a diverse workforce in the services the agency provides to Oregonians working for a wage across the state,” said Reyna Lopez, Executive Director of PCUN. “Christina Stephenson will be an asset as Labor Commissioner because she cares deeply about the conditions of every place of employment, cross-industry. From farmworkers to warehouse workers, we know we can count on Christina to listen and problem solve by always putting accountability, equity, trust-building and compliance at the forefront - this will empower our most vulnerable workers, while mitigating risk for employers. PCUN's goal is to show our Labor Commissioner the need to ensure the agricultural industry is on a path to reducing violations for the wellbeing and sustainability of the workers, and the industry at-large. In addition, it’s critical the agency is more culturally competent and accessible to workers in Oregon that experience barriers based on disabilities, access to the internet, language, and more."
Stephenson then visited union ironworkers in Woodburn outside of an Amazon facility under construction. The ironworkers, joined by other construction trades members, are picketing the Amazon facility over the use of out-of-state contractors who are paying wages below the area standard. Amazon’s land use was approved in 2021 in exchange for 1,800 new local jobs and improvements to infrastructure around the site. Instead, Amazon froze out local union workers and replaced them with out-of-state non-union contractors. Stephenson is running to lead the Bureau of Labor and Industries, the state agency which oversees the prevailing wage, registered apprenticeships, and wage and hour laws. Stephenson’s time spent at the Amazon picket signals a candidate who is serious about ensuring workers are paid fairly as Labor Commissioner.
“It is essential for the future of our skilled local workforce that Oregon’s Labor Commissioner understands the benefits that prevailing wage and registered apprenticeship programs bring to our communities,” said Jason Fussell, Business Manager for Ironworkers Local 29. “Christina Stephenson’s willingness to stand on the picket lines with our members, and protest the hiring of out-of-state contractors that do not invest in the local community clearly indicates her commitment to fighting for working Oregonians. We know we can trust Christina to move the Bureau of Labor and Industries forward to meet our state’s growing economic and workforce needs.”
“The Oregon AFL-CIO proudly endorsed Christina Stephenson because of her history as a worker advocate and because she continues to demonstrate that she’s the right candidate for the job,” said Graham Trainor, Oregon AFL-CIO President. “Meeting with such a diverse range of workers in one day is exceptional for any candidate, but for a hopeful Labor Commissioner, it shows Oregon’s workers that we have a true champion who is serious about the job and understands what our state’s complex economy and workforce need from the Bureau of Labor and Industries. I applaud Christina for doing what a true leader does: Listening to the voices of working people.”
Stephenson will also visit the first unionized Starbucks in Oregon in Eugene to meet with workers this weekend. In a race with seven filed candidates, these actions speak volumes about the values of Stephenson and show that she’s ready to lead the Bureau of Labor and Industries in a way that values all working people - from marginalized farmworkers to construction workers fighting for fair standards, to baristas making history through collective action.