Welcome to Oregon Action!

Oregon Action is a statewide, multi-racial community organization dedicated to social justice.  We assist people to organize on their own behalf – with a focus on low-income people, people of color and others with limited access to traditional structures of power and policy-making.

Through leadership development and community organizing, we provide the organizational base for participatory democracy, just communities and a fair economy. More about Oregon Action…


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#WeMatter: Action for Women and Families

Oregon Action is proud to be joining a diverse and growing number of individuals, organizations and coalitions nationwide to generate even greater attention to — and progress on — the issues and policies that are of critical importance to the economic stability and success of women, families and the nation. We are coming together to remind lawmakers and people across the country that we are women and families, and the issues we care about matter.

We need an economy that works for all of us, and that starts with pay equity for all, a higher minimum wage, and paid family and medical leave. 

#WEmatter allows all of us who care about these issues to link our efforts, raise awareness, and come together in a new and powerful way to call for action and accountability.

Today is Women’s Equality Day and we are out registering women to vote as we build the voices and power of women and families in our democracy. What will you do today?

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Job Gap: More Working Families Struggling


Job Gap: More Working Families Struggling to Make Ends Meet are Sliding Deeper into Debt

A living wage in Oregon is $23.94 for a single parent with one child.

Families are losing hope of ever having economic security

Medford, Oregon – Working families are out of balance – costs are climbing and paychecks are shrinking. Workers who don’t earn a living wage can’t make ends meet. On top of that, many are struggling with deep debt, especially student loan and medical debt.

“Families Out of Balance” is the first report in the 2014 Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series, produced by the Alliance for a Just Society. The report, released today by Oregon Action, shows that a living wage in Oregon ranges from $15.96 per hour for a single adult to $30.75 for a single adult with two children.

Nationally, the report reveals a shocking disproportionality in the burden of debt shouldered by low-income families, compared to wealthier families. The Alliance has produced the Job Gap Study on jobs and wages since 1999.

Yet, despite having far less income for each dollar of debt, our study shows that 89 percent of low-income families prioritize making debt payments on time – sometimes going without food, heat or other basic necessities.

Meanwhile, the minimum wage in Oregon is now $9.10. As a result, even full-time workers can’t make ends meet, much less save for the future or for emergencies.

Our report looks at five household types in Oregon, you can read it here. There is also a national report and data for other states and counties. It’s available at thejobgap.org.

A living wage is the hourly pay needed to cover the cost of housing, food, utilities and other expenses, including modest savings.

“The release of this report around Labor Day weekend is timely to say the least,” said Darlene Huntress, Executive Director of Oregon Action. “As we celebrate workers across our state, this report shows a stark reality for many of them.  And even as we boast one of the highest minimum wages in the country, Oregon’s wage floor still falls short of a living wage, denying workers the ability to support themselves and their families.  Whether we are talking about student loans, credit card debt, healthcare or housing costs, Oregon families are struggling to make ends meet and $9.10 an hour doesn’t come close to what workers need to cover the cost of living.”

In addition, research in “Families Out of Balance” will be critical as policy makers debate minimum wage increases. While Seattle recently set the bar with a $15 minimum wage, others, including the federal government, haven’t kept up.  The national minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, unchanged since 2009.

Our study finds that even $15 an hour doesn’t cover the true cost of living. In the 10 states studied for the report, that amount would only meet the living needs of a single adult (without children) in two states: Idaho and Montana.

“It’s outrageous that our nation’s leaders have failed to increase the federal minimum wage for five years. They are failing our families, and they are creating an economic and social disaster,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society.

“Lifting the minimum wage to a true living wage is the first step to giving all families a level playing field,” she said.

Gladys Alverez from Medford, whose story is featured in both the state and national reports, is finding that her minimum wage job at a local hotel leaves her nothing at the end of the month to save or spend. “ Right now, I only have $40 in my bank account,

but I owe $2,000 in medical debt from an emergency room visit for stomach pain. Without savings, we can only afford to pay the minimum of $60 on our two credit card bills. I pay $300 to $400 a month to feed our growing kids. I’m working as hard as I can, but I don’t know how I’m going to make it with this debt and this stress.”

We are happy to help you contact Gladys and other families willing to share their stories on trying to make ends meet and pay their bills on less than a living wage.

The Alliance for a Just Society and Oregon Action call on Oregon leaders to take action now to create real economic stability for working families. We recommend these policy changes:

  • Increase the federal minimum wage
  • Abolish the federal tipped minimum wage
  • Reinvest in higher education
  • Address medical debt acquired before the Affordable Care Act
  • Expand Medicaid eligibility
  • Regulate payday lending

Oregon Action is a statewide, non-partisan network of people and organizations dedicated to social, economic and racial justice for all through individual and group empowerment.

Alliance for a Just Society is a national research, policy, and organizing network that advocates locally and nationally for economic and social equity.


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‘Why are there so few Black people in Oregon?’ A conversation project

Dear Friends,

We are excited to invite you to ‘Why are there so few Black people in Oregon?’ A conversation project, hosted by the Rural Organizing Project, and the Oregon Humanities.

Have you ever wondered why the Black population in Oregon is so small? Oregon has a history not only of Black exclusion and discrimination, but also of a vibrant Black culture that helped sustain many communities throughout the state—a history that is not taught in schools. Author and educator Walidah Imarisha will lead participants through an interactive timeline of Black history in Oregon that speaks to the history of race, identity, and power in this state and the nation. Participants will discuss how history, politics, and culture have shaped—and will continue to shape—the landscape not only for Black Oregonians but all Oregonians.

When: Thursday, September 4th 6:30pm

Where: Taprock Restaurant 971 SE 6th St. Grants Pass

Please RSVP to Alex Budd at alexbudd@riseup.net or 720-425-4955.
Thanks, Alex Budd

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By Libero Della Piana on August 18, 2014

mich brown bad picThe images of protest and militarized police response in Ferguson, Missouri are shocking. But developments in that small suburban town are simply exposing the racial reality that millions of people of color face every day.

Everyday experiences with the courts, media, government authorities and police remind us, in ways large and small, that the lives of young brown and black kids have little value in society.

Police and vigilante killings of young black and brown people are commonplace in communities of color. The killings of Renisha McBride, Ramarley Graham, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and others in recent years have cast a national spotlight on an epidemic of senseless killings of unarmed people of color. All too often our children are dying at the hands of those entrusted with public safety. All too often the killers go free. The message is clear: black and brown people just don’t count.

It has been widely reported that in Ferguson—a town whose population is nearly two-thirds Black—there is only a single Black city councilperson, and three Black police officers in a force of 53. Ferguson reported 8 times as many black arrests as white arrests for the first part of 2014. Blacks represent 86% of all traffic stops and 92% of all searches. The data show a clear practice of racial profiling. The numbers might differ a little from place to place, but these statistics are a stark image of the racial divide that exists in small towns and large across our country today. Racial disparities in crime statistics are the norm from coast to coast.

Blacks, Latinos, American Indians and other people of color are routinely excluded from the halls of power and subjected to racialized police policies like profiling and stop-and-frisk.
Policing policies have led to the mass imprisonment of people of color, many for low-level drug offenses. The prevalence of incarceration and life post-incarceration is one of the primary features in Black communities in particular, with massive and pervasive social and economic impacts and communities.

Today the militarization of local policing, border patrol and private security is rampant with Federal programs providing military gear, armored vehicles and “crowd control” equipment to local police often for free.

Add to this the fact that communities of color were in many cases the hardest hit during the economic crisis of 2008-2009 and have yet to recover. Communities with chronic and generational unemployment are now competing for jobs with other hard-hit communities. Millions of those with jobs are the working poor, stuck in jobs that rarely provide a living wage. Without jobs or hope, subject to police harassment and violence, bearing the brunt of budget cuts to public services and benefits, many low-income communities of color have become pressure cookers.

Politicians and media commentators casually promote the idea that refugee children on the border are less than human, the idea that a black child can be a physical threat to armed men, the idea that “public safety” does not include safety for people of color. Public policies and legislation are routinely racialized, blaming the powerless for society’s ills and putting programs for communities of color on the chopping block.

So when an unarmed 18-year-old, Michael Brown, was gunned down in the street in Ferguson August 9 it was natural that the community reacted with rage and frustration. When the police greeted protests with riot gear and rubber bullets it is hardly surprising that the rage boiled over.

The racial realities of policing didn’t start this week with Michael Brown’s terrible and needless death. The antagonism between the police and communities of color is a persistent strand of the fabric of modern US society. The pattern of racist ideas and policies will take years to unravel. But it can only begin when we expose the racial realities, submit government institutions to community scrutiny and control, and treat young people of color as human beings.

We call for:

The immediate suspension—without pay—pending independent investigation of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.

Stop vilifying Michael Brown, the unarmed victim of an unjustified killing.

Implementation of community-controlled policing, restorative justice, alternative detention group homes and other alternatives to lethal policing in communities of color plagued by police violence.

Take Action:

Sign the Color of Change letter calling for full federal investigation and prosecution of those responsible in the death of Mike Brown.

Ask your Senator to support Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin (D-MI)’s review of the so-called “1033 program” which provides surplus military equipment to local police, often free of charge.

Call on your Congressional Representatives to cosponsor the “Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act” (PDF) sponsored by Hank Johnson (D-GA) which would limit the transfer of military equipment to local police departments.



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Exciting News!

It’s time! Are you ready?

Today marks the official launch of the Yes on Measure 88 – Driver Card for Safe Roads campaign and Oregon Action is proud to be a supporter.

Join us in supporting M88 at: www.OregonSafeRoads.org

This November, vote YES for an Oregon Driver Card, a common sense solution to keep our roads and communities safe.

VoteYesSafeRoadsMeasure 88 will create a limited purpose and limited duration driver card for qualified applicants living and working in Oregon. Voting “YES” allows the DMV to issue driver cards to Oregon residents who can pass State driving tests and provide proof of Oregon residency, identity, and date of birth.

Driver Cards will help Oregon residents follow the law and improve safety for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians by reducing the number of uninsured and untested drivers on the road.

Learn more: www.OregonSafeRoads.org

All Oregonians need a safe and legal way to get to work, church, and school.
Join with us in supporting YES on Measure 88 at www.OregonSafeRoads.org


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Faces of Cover Oregon – Matt


After some difficulty using the website, I saw a flier in the Ashland Library for assistance regarding Cover Oregon. I showed up and got excellent help from Michelle including submitting my information through the direct portal which gave me immediate approval. I haven’t had medical insurance for years now, so finally having medical coverage without deductibles or co-pays is wonderful. While it may take up to six weeks to get my number from them, I was also given a phone number to call if I have emergency medical needs. I’m cautiously optimistic that this will be an amazing improvement in my life.

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Faces of Cover Oregon – Maria

MariaFMaria – Medford, OR

Maria has a family of 5, she had coverage through her employer but her husband and daughter were uninsured because her employer recently dropped spouse/dependent coverage. “I was also hoping that I could find more affordable coverage through Cover Oregon than what was available through her employer (high deductible, not very accessible coverage).”

Maria found the application fair to be nice but not very helpful since they couldn’t answer several of her questions. She had been waiting since October through January and didn’t hear anything. “We were calling and they kept saying that it was in process.” Finally, after several months Cover Oregon finally informed her there was missing information on the application; she filled out the update and sent it in.

Maria came to Michelle later with questions about enrollment and when she saw the rates of the plans she was very upset since to have a reasonable premium, there is a very high deductible which was still not affordable still not affordable. A $5,000 deductable plan was 100% out of pocket for a doctor visit. “I said, what? I mean not even visiting a doctor, having to meet $5,000 first. So before my two family members can go to the doctor, they have to meet a $10,000 deductable. So for me this is just ridiculous…I was happy about Cover Oregon, but now I understand who is really benefitting from the tax credit: the insurance companies. My husband has waited five years with no health coverage, and now he has coverage he can’t really use.”

This is my frustration. Scary moments and confusion about being enrolled without choosing anything – we received LifeWise.


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You’re Invited!

Summer Celebration Flyer


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