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Critical Worker Protection Legislation and Budgets Stalled by State Senate Walkout

The State Senate walkout has significantly delayed numerous bills and budgets that working Oregonians expect and need to see passed in this legislature.

With just four weeks left in the 2023 Oregon Legislature, time is running out for lawmakers to pass critical worker protection bills and state agency budgets that support working people. Legislation being stalled by the walkout includes protections for returning to work in workers’ compensation settlements, streamlining public sector union elections, the budget for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, the budgets that support the State of Oregon’s agencies and workforce, and more. In a press release issued on May 23, Senate Republicans vowed to wait until June 25 to return to work - putting critical bills and budgets in jeopardy of not passing.

“This walkout is an unacceptable delay in the legislative process, a complete disruption of democracy, and a betrayal to working families,” said Graham Trainor, Oregon AFL-CIO President. “By walking out on the jobs they were elected to do, these Senators are holding back legislation and budgets that working people are counting on. It’s time to stop playing games with the legislature, get back to work, and pass the laws and budgets working Oregonians expect and deserve. We know lawmakers do not always see eye to eye, but the least they can do is take the hard votes as they come instead of walking out and grinding our state government to a halt. Oregonians are tired of these strongarm tactics and we made that abundantly clear when we voted to pass Ballot Measure 113 in 2022.”

Some of the worker protection bills and budgets that are awaiting Senate quorum to be voted on include:

State Agencies’ Budgets

With contracts between the State of Oregon and its workers expiring on June 30, state workers are counting on the legislature to pass various bills related to the state budget in the next four weeks in order to continue providing vital services. State agencies providing critical services to our communities like the Departments of Education, Employment, and Transportation must have a budget passed. With the majority of state agencies facing a massive staffing crisis, the legislature must fully fund agencies so they can be fully staffed. The severe staffing crisis within round-the-clock services such as the Stabilization and Crisis Unit (SACU), Oregon State Hospital, and the Department of Corrections has escalated to a point where it jeopardizes the safety of both staff members and the individuals under their care, needlessly exposing them to danger. While the legislature has managed to pass a bill that ensures the funding of basic functions of state agencies until September 15, numerous programs face immediate decimation unless the Senate takes action prior to the adjournment of the legislative session. Senators must return to work by June 25, as failure to do so would lead the government down a path towards a detrimental shutdown, negatively impacting state workers and all communities at large.

SB 5515: Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Budget

SB 5515 addresses the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) budget. This budget is essential to protecting workers, and makes sure BOLI has the resources it needs to enforce wage and hour laws, civil rights, apprenticeships, and more.

HB 3471: Return to Work in Workers’ Compensation Settlements

HB 3471 helps workers get back to work when they've been injured on the job by limiting the use of no re-hire agreements as a condition to settle a workers' compensation claim related to workers' compensation.

HB 3031: School Ventilation Infrastructure

HB 3031 will make effective use of federal infrastructure resources to make schools safer for students, teachers and support staff, while also stimulating quality jobs in the community. The bill requires critical safety protections around indoor air quality assessment, in addition to minimum labor standards for the craftspeople doing the work, like family-supporting wages, use of apprenticeships, and emphasis on diversifying Oregon’s workforce in this area.

HB 2573: ERB Online Authorization Cards

HB 2573 would create parity between public and private sector union elections by allowing public sector unions to use an electronic signature for union authorization cards. E-signatures are already permitted in private sector elections.

HB 3332: Buy America

HB 3332 would create a Buy America preference to promote domestic manufacturing while supporting cleaner steel and iron products as we try to meet our climate goals.

HB 3028: Representation on Appointed Boards and Commissions

HB 3028 addresses working Oregonians' ability to serve on appointed boards and commissions. Workers’ voices are critical to crafting good policies and rules, yet many workers are required to use vacation or sick time in order to participate. The bill changes that by putting in place the same protections that already exist for jury duty so that workers have protected time to serve on an appointed board or commission.

HB 3383: Classified Staff Representation in State Education Policy Boards and Commissions

HB 3383 ensures that classified staff are represented on the State Board of Education.

SB 611: Stable Homes for Oregon Families

SB 611 is part of the Homelessness Prevention Package to increase rent assistance, limit rate increases, and increase the data available about Oregon’s rental market. The bill fundamentally makes evictions less common and more fair so that more Oregonians who are currently housed don't end up on the streets.

HB 2697: Safe Hospital Staffing

HB 2697 helps address the chronic understaffing in hospitals by establishing numerical standards of how many patients a nurse may be charged with caring for. HB 2697 expands the staffing committee model, creates new staffing committees for hospital technical staff, hospital service staff, and professional staff; resolves caregivers’ impossible decision between providing patient care and taking quick breaks for eating and resting during their 12-hour shifts; and enshrines a voice for workers who do home health care or who are technical, service, or professional staff in a hospital to collaboratively set staffing standards, additional to the requirements of the bill for hospital nursing care.

HB 2611: Reauthorize Adjunct Faculty Health Care

HB 2611 continues to make sure that part-time faculty can access the full range of healthcare by including dental and vision as part of the benefits.

HB 2294: Extension of Firefighter Apprenticeship Program Investment

HB 2294 expands firefighter apprenticeship programs to more regions in the state and helps diversify this critical workforce.

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