And we’re excited for the opportunities in 2015 to move Oregon forward to work better for all Oregon families, however they are configured. These are the bills we are supporting during the current legislative session to move us closer to that goal (download our full 2015 legislative agenda here (PDF)):
1. EXPAND ACCESS TO PAID SICK TIME FOR ALL OREGONIANS | HB 2005 & SB 454
The Problem: Everyone gets sick, yet 71% of Oregonians working low-paying jobs don’t have a single paid sick day. And, even though Portland and Eugene have passed ordinances, almost half — 47% of all other Oregonians working in the private sector lack access to any paid sick time. These workers are disproportionately women and people of color. Ensuring all Oregonians earn paid sick days makes it so all of us can afford to stay home when we —or our kids—get sick.
The Fix: Expand access to paid sick time to all working Oregonians, not just those who work in Eugene and Portland. HB 2005 and SB 454 will enable all employees to accrue paid sick time where they work up to a maximum of 56 hours per year.
Learn more on the Everybody Benefits campaign website here.
2. REQUIRE FAIR SCHEDULING FOR WORKERS
The Problem: Too often, low-wage workers receive their schedules just days before their shifts, have erratic schedules that change from week to week, get sent home from work early without compensation, or receive too few hours.
These types of scheduling practices wreak havoc on workers’ lives; they disrupt childcare arrangements, make budgeting impossible, and prevent workers from securing much needed second jobs or taking classes to improve their employment prospects.Volatile scheduling is bad for workers–especially mothers and the families that depend on them.
The Fix: Require employers to provide fair scheduling that makes it possible for employees to reasonably plan their lives. This includes basic work place policies like providing ample notice to workers of their work schedule, providing consistent schedules for a reasonable amount of time, and allowing workers to request schedule accommodations free from retaliation. Employers who adopt fair scheduling practices find they have lower turnover, higher morale, and healthier, more productive workers. And workers find they can more successfully meet the competing demands of work and family when they have fair and predictable schedules.
CLOSE THE GENDER WAGE GAP | HB 2006, HB 2007 & HB 2658
The Problem:The gender pay gap affects short-term earnings, long-term savings, retirement benefits, housing security and educational opportunities for women. Though the gap has been slowly narrowing since the 1970s, it persists today and is wider for mothers and women of color. Without further action, the pay gap won’t close until 2058, meaning most women working today won’t see equal pay during their working lives.
The Fix: Fully closing the gender wage gap will require many different tools, several of which are on the table, including: making it illegal for workers to be paid differently for equivalent jobs (HB 2006), making it illegal to discipline employees who inquire about or disclose wage information (HB 2007) and prohibiting discrimination in employment on basis of employees’ familial status, which can lead to unequal pay for mothers through their caregiving years and beyond (HB 2658).
PROTECT PEOPLE ON FAMILY LEAVE FROM LOSING THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE | HB 2600
The Problem: When employees are off work for unpaid family leave covered by the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), there is no protection currently that ensures they can stay on their employers health insurance plan while they are on “OFLA leave.” The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does include this basic protection to protect people from the possibility of losing their health insurance right whey they need it most.
The Fix: We need to update OFLA to make sure that employers don’t drop employees’ health insurance while they are out on family leave.
MAKE CHILD CARE AFFORDABLE FOR ALL OREGONIANS | HB 2015
The Problem: Childcare is expensive and unaffordable for too many Oregonians. In fact, a 2013 report out of OSU showed that childcare can cost nearly twice as much as college tuition at Oregon’s public universities. The existing Employment Related Day Care program (ERDC) is one way to help low-income working families pay for the child care they need. But the program fails to reach parents who are in school or who work for themselves and is chronically underfunded, which means it isn’t currently available to all eligible families.
The Fix: ERDC should reach more parents who need dependable childcare in order to earn a living or attend school. HB 2015 will take us a step in that direction by expanding access to the program to parents who are currently in school or self-employed; these families have been excluded from the program even though their low incomes qualify.
EXTEND BASIC WORKPLACE RIGHTS TO DOMESTIC WORKERS | SB 552
The Problem: Domestic workers — people provide in-home services such as childcare, cooking, housekeeping and maintenance — lack the basic workplace protections extended to most other workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Due to a desire to continue to exploit domestic work cheaply, and in part because it has always been “women’s work” and undervalued, domestic workers were specifically carved out of that legislation and continue to be excluded from many of the critical protections that state and federal law provide for today – including overtime protections, rest breaks, and much more.
The Fix: Establish workplace protections for domestic workers that most other workers have long enjoyed, like overtime pay, periods of rest, paid vacation time and freedom from harassment. Doing so will right a historical wrong.
PROMOTE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY IN THE WORKPLACE FOR FAMILY CAREGIVERS | HB 2685
The Problem: Family responsibilities discrimination (FRD), also called caregiver discrimination, is discrimination in the workplace based on an employee’s responsibility, real or perceived, to care for family members – including children, older
The Fix: Working family caregivers deserve and need equal employment opportunity and protection from discrimination, which is best achieved by expressly prohibiting FRD. Right now, no federal or Oregon law protects people with family responsibilities as a specific group or class from discrimination. HB 2685 will ensure that parents and caregivers are not discriminated against at work for their familial responsibilities. In other words, it will simply require employers to give caregivers equal treatment under the law.
“BAN THE BOX” ON JOB APPLICATIONS
The Problem: Even as the economy is improving, it is still difficult for people with previous criminal records to find work in Oregon. People of color are often disproportionately represented in prison populations. And banning the box is one step we can take to ensure our communities have a fair chance at contributing positively to their families and our state. Research affirms that a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a job callback by nearly 50%.
The Fix: We need to reduce the number of barriers that stand between people with records and finding stable employment and the promise of a sustainable future. By removing this barrier to employment, we can give a fair chance to thousands of Oregonians who just want to support their families. Banning the box is one step we can take to ensure that people with previous arrest or conviction records have a fair chance at competing for jobs.
CREATE A SECURE RETIREMENT FOR ALL | HB 2960 & SB 615
The Problem: Too many Oregonians are retiring with insufficient savings to sustain themselves and their families. Women in our state are acutely affected by poverty in old age: eight in 10 of the poorest retirees in Oregon are women. One cause is the inequitable, inconsistent, and difficult to access retirement savings system people face during their working and caregiving years. When people can’t afford to retire or they retire in poverty, we all pay the price.
The Fix: We must find a system that makes it easier for Oregonians to save and protect state resources. HB 2960 and SB 615 would establish a plan that automatically enrolls Oregonians who don’t have access to one in a retirement savings plan (with an opt out).
Read this article on the topic (Salon) and visit the Save Today, Secure Tomorrow campaign website here.
The Problem: Currently there is no statewide system in place for people to report cases of racial profiling by law enforcement, which means there is no documenting of incidents and little-to-no accountability. When people are considered suspects because of what they look like, it erodes our communities’ ability to trust law enforcement, makes our families less safe, and violates basic principles of fairness.
The Fix: Oregon needs a legislative solution to this problem. The End Profiling Act is simple: it defines and bans profiling by law enforcement on the basis of someone’s race, ethnicity, color, national origin, age, sexual orientation, physical or intellectual disability, serious medical condition, income, language, political affiliation, or religion.
RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE | HB 2009
The Problem: Oregon’s minimum wage is not enough to get by on. A full time worker making minimum wage only brings home $19,240 a year. National data indicates the average minimum-wage worker is most likely to be a 35-year-old woman, often a mother with a family relying solely on her wages. The reality is that women, people of color, and people living in rural areas make up the largest percentage of our low-wage workforce.
The Fix: Raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour would boost wages for nearly 650,000 Oregonians and give more working families a fair shot at a better life. The amount of money a minimum wage worker brings home annually would increase from $19,240 to $31,200, making it possible for families to thrive, rather than struggle to get by.
Learn more about why raising the minimum wage matters to women.