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Tuesday
Apr102007

Oregon Legislative Update

People that have never had to meet a payroll, with some help from their union friends, are certain they know more about how to run your business than you do. Their plans for you cover:

  • Breast feeding
  • Unions without votes
  • Outlawing opposition to union campaigns
  • Sick pay requirements
  • Paid family leave
  • New overtime entitlement
  • Additional damages against employers
  • Workplace bullying

Brief summaries of 11 employment bills and 1 consumer bill are set out below.

Paid Sick Leave Requirements. HB 2485 – Expands purpose for which employee taking family leave may use paid sick leave. Requires employer to pay sick pay for absences normally not covered by the sick leave policy.

Paid Family Leave. HB 2575 – Creates Family Leave Benefits Insurance Program to provide benefits to employees taking family leave with a penny an hour tax on employees working in companies with 25 or more employees. California has had similar legislation for three years and already the proponents there are looking to expand the utilization of the program.

Daily Overtime. HB 2673 –
Allows BOLI to adopt rules permitting overtime pay for work after 8 hours in one day. Bill has an exception for regularly scheduled 4 day shifts of 10 hours each. Such legislation would negatively impact an employer’s ability to accommodate an employee wanting flexibility to tend to personal matters. For some industries overtime beyond 8 hours a day would be extremely expensive and change their ability to offer alternative shift assignments.

Expanding Prevailing Wage to Products. HB 2998 – Modifies definition of “public works” to include fabrication or manufacture of nonstandard items produced by contract specifically for public works project for which prevailing wage rates are required. The bill would make manufacturers producing such items subject to prevailing wage.

Workplace Bullying. SB 1035 –
Creates unlawful employment practice of workplace bullying.

Abolishment of Secret Elections for Organizing. HB 2891 –
AFL-CIO bill to allow “card check” for public employees. Would require a union be recognized simply by obtaining 51% of the employees’ signatures on a card. Current law requires a secret election.

Prohibition on Funding Some Anti-Union Activities. HB 2892 –
An AFL-CIO bill to prohibit an employer from using any state funds (including profits) on anti-union activities. For the many businesses that contract with the state to provide services or products, this would require additional bookkeeping for any state funds received.

Prohibition on Requiring Attendance. HB 2893 –
An AFL-CIO bill prohibiting an employer from mandating attendance or communication of any kind with employees concerning a union organizing campaign or religious or political matter.

Breast Feeding Bill. HB 2372 –
The bill addresses most of the concerns raised by AOI. Language dealing with paying of sick pay and vacation pay has been deleted, leaving the pay issue up to the employer’s practices. The definition of undue hardship has been changed to be based on size, financial resources, nature {or} structure of the employer’s business (instead of “and”). Penalties will be assessed only with an intentional violation.

New Provision for Compensatory and Punitive Damages. HB 2260 –
Adds compensatory and punitive damages to the relief available under unlawful employment practices based on race, religion, color, sex and national origin in the Oregon courts. Passed the House without a dissenting vote.

Joint Responsibility. SB 465 –
AOI’s medical marijuana bill dealing with the Washburn v. Columbia Forest Products case. Allows employers to enforce drug and alcohol policies. Passed the Senate with 23 ayes and only 5 nays.

Invalidating Mandatory Arbitration. SB 484 – Invalidates Mandatory Arbitration in Contracts. This bill invalidates any contractual provision that requires mandatory arbitration in lieu of a civil suit.  

Thank you to our friends at AOL and employment lobbyist Lisa Trussell for this legislation summary and for their efforts on behalf of Oregon business during a difficult legislative session. 

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