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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In Case You Missed It: Oregon Police Chiefs Endorse Legislation to End Profiling

Oregon Police Chiefs Endorse Legislation to End Profiling

Legislators establish workgroup to identify and address profiling practices, consolidate bills with bipartisan support during Wednesday work session

Medford, Ore. – The Oregon Association Chiefs of Police (OACP) announced their support this week for legislation designed to put an end to profiling in Oregon by clearly defining the problem in statute, collecting better data, and providing a path for reporting profiling complaints. The over 200 members of OACP include not only Chiefs of Police, but also police commanders, supervisors, and support staff from all over Oregon.

“First of all, I would like to thank the legislative sponsors and proponents of HB 2002 for engaging us in an important conversation regarding bias policing and the provisions of this measure,” said Kevin Campbell, Executive Director of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police. “We worked collaboratively with the Center for Intercultural Organizing and other proponents to insure that Oregonians from all perspectives and backgrounds have a place to take their bias policing complaints if they don’t feel comfortable complaining directly to their local police agency. Bias policing is not professional policing and the members of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police are committed to best practice standards in hiring, policies and training designed to insure that our police officers continue to have the full confidence of the communities they serve. Public confidence in the legitimacy of policing and in the work our police officers perform each and every day is absolutely critical to our effectiveness.”

The House Committee on Judiciary took action on April 20th to combine the three End Profiling bills (HB 2001, HB 2002 and HB 2003) into a single bill and move the legislation forward with bipartisan support. The committee also approved an amendment that would create the Law Enforcement Profiling Work Group, a new group tasked with evaluating how best to implement the new policies across the state.  The amendment requires data collection and sets up a system for people to report complaints and for those complaints to be reported back to local jurisdictions.

“The scariest thing to me is that so many people don’t believe that racial profiling exists in Oregon,” said Ricardo Lujan, Board Member for Oregon Action. “Profiling of all kinds damages the relationship between the law enforcement and our communities. By collecting data and providing accountability, this bill will make our neighborhoods and families safer.”

The work group will be tasked with proposing a process to identify patterns or practices of profiling, identifying methods to address and correct these practices and biased policies, and preparing a report identifying any additional statutory changes that are needed to achieve these goals.

The End Profiling legislation next moves to the Sub Joint Ways and Means Committee on Public Safety for approval before going to the full Ways and Means Committee and then a vote from the full legislature.

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Oregon Action is a grassroots organization focused on racial justice and economic issues affecting working people.

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Oregon House Passes Ban the Box

April 29, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Rose King, (503) 863.1363, rose@brinkcomm.com

Oregon House Passes ‘Ban the Box’ Legislation

Fair Chance For All Coalition applauds passage of HB 3025—a critical step in giving qualified job applicants who’ve paid their debts to society a fair chance at rebuilding their lives

(Salem, Ore.)—April 29, 2015—The Oregon House of Representatives today passed HB 3025, sending the bill to the Oregon Senate for approval. The legislation will prohibit employers from including questions about applicants’ criminal history on job applications. It is backed by The Fair Chance for All coalition, a group of more than 50 organizations in Oregon.

More than 32,000 people in Oregon are currently incarcerated or on community supervision and face barriers to housing and jobs. Nearly 11 percent of incarcerated Oregonians are African American, despite the fact that African Americans make up only 2 percent of Oregon’s overall population.

“Today, we are one step closer to banning the box so that thousands of people released from prison every year can obtain the jobs they need to support themselves and their families,” said Midge Purcell, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for Portland Urban League. “These Oregonians need a second chance at rebuilding their lives.”

Successful employment is one of the most important factors for decreasing recidivism. A steady job provides not just financial resources, but also connections to a new community that can help reduce the risk of another offense.

“As a local business owner, I believe in second chances. Punishing people for a lifetime isn’t working,” said Barb Campbell, Bend City Councilor and owner of Wabi Sabi. “At the end of the day, I am looking for the most hardworking, qualified person for the job. A checked box doesn’t tell me everything I need to know about an applicant.”

Theresa Sweeney, an Oregonian with personal experience transitioning from incarceration to the community, continues to struggles with employment, despite earning a master’s degree in 2010.

“People say, ‘Pick yourself up by your bootstraps,’ and you do, but then there are still all these barriers,” said Sweeney. “It’s so frustrating. It’s been eleven years and I still face repercussions. It’s really hard.”

‘The box’ has already been removed from applications for City of Portland jobs in 2014 and Multnomah County jobs in 2007. If the legislature passes HB 3025, Oregon will join 100 jurisdictions and 16 states that have already banned the box, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

The Portland City Council is also considering a ‘ban the box’ ordinance, which would apply to all employers in Portland.  A hearing was held on the resolution last month.

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Report from Minimum Wage Hearing at the Capitol

15 Now Rallies in the Rotunda at the Capitol – Makes headlines across the state

Hundreds of low-wage workers and advocates converged in Salem on Monday for a packed public hearing on minimum wage bills under consideration. Hours of testimony spoke to the experience of being working poor and struggling to make ends meet. Some cited the rising cost of rents and childcare costs and wept as they described their struggle to provide for their families and put food on the table while working full-time. The courage and fortitude of low-wage workers was met with applause in the multiple overflow rooms for the hearing.

Powerful testimony spoke to the disproportionate impact of poverty wages on women and people of color in Oregon, and sought to connect the struggle for living wages to civil rights, racial justice and the reduction of crime in poor neighborhoods.

Low-wage workers were joined in testimony by small business owners and members of the coalition Main Street Alliance, who spoke to the positive impacts of an increase in the minimum wage for local economies in the form of reduced turnover and increased spending. Before the packed chambers the owner of Portland’s Bipartisan Café Peter Emerson argued, “Money doesn’t trickle down.” He said, “When minimum wage employees earn a higher wage, that money stays in the neighborhood. It’s a cycle that thrives when there’s investment.”

Big business lobbyists and other critics of an increase in the minimum wage attacked the proposed bills and claimed that such a substantial increase to $15 would bring economic Armageddon, while advocates of the increase cited previous increases of similar size in both the federal and state minimum wages, noting that such fears have been invoked by big business since the first passage of minimum wage legislation in the 1930s.

Local Organizers Pledge to Take the Fight to the Ballot Next Year: A rally in the rotunda of the Capitol building (pictured above) was led by Rogue Valley Oregon Action board member and 15 now statewide organizer Kristi Wright and others. Rally organizers demanded that House and Senate Democrats take a stand with working families and raise the wage to $15. To great applause in the rotunda we declared our intentions to file a ballot initiative for a $15 minimum wage with a 3 year phase-in period for 2016.

Update Courtesy of Evan Lasley, Organizer for 15 Now Southern Oregon

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Jackson County Talks Poverty

Oregon Action participates in the first of a series of Community Conversations on important topics that impact our region

The real power of communities like ours is our ability to come together and connect on the common issues we all face together. That’s the idea behind the latest “Town Hall” discussion night on poverty. Please join us!

Wednesday, April 22 at 6:00pm
Large Meeting Room at the Medford Public Library
205 S. Central Avenue, Medford

A light supper will be served until the soup is gone

Facilitators:

Michelle Glass – Oregon Action
Mark Kellenbeck – Main Street Alliance
Rita Sullivan – OnTrack
Jeffrey Nichols – ACCESS
Bill Thorndike, Oregon Business Council
Jim Fong – Work Force

Please RSVP to CommunitiyConversations@gmail.com or call 541-773-1680

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Advancing Justice through Policy: 2015 Oregon Legislative Priorities

(Updated May 6th, 2015)

Changing public policy through grassroots participation is one of the most powerful ways to advance justice and make a clear difference in the lives of thousands of Oregonians.

The 2015 legislative session is a great opportunity to fight for policies that empower our communities while holding up a lens of economic & social justice to evaluate the impacts of current and proposed policies.

Please join us in visibly and actively supporting the following bills:

Healthcare for All Kids (HB 3517)

All children need access to health care services to be successful in school and throughout their lives. OHEA is pursuing outreach funding for Oregon Healthy Beginnings program as an incremental step to ensuring all children have a healthy start in life.

Authorizes Oregon Health Authority to provide medical assistance, within available funds, to low income children residing in Oregon if necessary to move toward goals of Legislative Assembly expressed in law and to improve health of Oregon communities.
Declares emergency, effective on passage. Fiscal Impact: May Have Fiscal Impact, But No Statement Yet Issued

Lead Contact: Linda S. Roman, Oregon Latino Health Coalition, 503-523-7230 or linda@orlhc.org

Status: Passed out of the House, moving to the Senate

Local Elected Officials on Committee:

Scheduled Events: Public Hearing and Work Session May 6th, 2015 in the Senate Healthcare Committee

Healthcare for All Oregon (HB 2828)

This bill will provide full funding of the Health Care Study HB 2828, the next step in moving towards single payer healthcare for Oregon.  Passage will commission a rigorous study, the results of which will be a recommendation to the legislature as to the best method of funding comprehensive health care in Oregon. The bill is in the House Committee on Healthcare and is expected to pass out of the committee and move on to the House Ways and Means committee where it should be funded at the end of the 2015 session.

Basic Health Plan (HB 2934)

Many low-income working Oregonians earn too much to qualify for health subsidies, yet cannot afford health care. The Basic Health Plan would reduce costs and increase affordability by leveraging federal tax credits to help fund a group plan to cover 85,000 individuals earning 138-200% FPL, including currently ineligible legal permanent residents.

Comprehensive Womens’ Health

Restrictions on health care have a disproportionate impact on low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, young women, and women experiencing domestic violence. This bill will fill gaps in Oregon law and codify elements of federal law to ensure access to a full range of reproductive health care.

  • Lead contact: Aimee Santos-Lyons, BRAVE Coalition/Western States Center, 503-228-8866 or aimeesl@wscpdx.org

  • CWH bill fact sheet

Status: Died in committee – will not be moving forward this session

 

Paid Sick Time (HB 2005SB 454)

This will create a statewide standard that allows all Oregonians to earn sick time while working. Ensuring that working Oregonians have paid sick time means: being able to reduce the spread of illness, allowing people better access to health care services, and ensuring that people won’t have to risk their financial security when illness strikes.

HB 2005

Status: In House Committee

Committee: House Committee on Rules

SB 454

Status: In Joint Committee on Ways and Means

Local Elected Officials on Committee: Peter Buckley, Alan Bates

Scheduled Events: Public Hearing and Work Session 5/7/2015

End Profiling (HB 2002 & SB 486)

These bills will 1) prohibit law enforcement from stopping, searching or questioning persons of color, the homeless, and LGBTQ people without reasonable proof, 2) authorize the Attorney General to collect citizen complaints, and 3) require and track law enforcement data on stops, questioning, or searches of minority individuals.

HB 2002

Status: In Joint Committee on Ways and Means

Local Elected Officials on Committee: None

Scheduled Events: Work session 4/15

SB 486

Status: In Senate Committee on Judiciary

Local Elected Officials on Committee: none

Scheduled Events: No meetings currently scheduled

Ban the Box (HB 3025)

Removes questions about criminal history from job and housing applications to ease employment and housing barriers.  The bill will help create fair chances for all people with previous arrests or conviction records to compete for jobs and stable housing.

HB 3025

Status: Passed the House, In Senate Committee on Workforce

Raising Oregon’s Minimum Wage

HB 2009/SB 610 will raise Oregon’s minimum wage to $15/hr by 2018. Legislation drafted at the request of Jobs with Justice and 15 NOW Oregon. The bill has been referred to the House Business and Labor Committee and the Senate Workforce Committee. The bill has to pass out of this committee if it is going to move to the floor for a vote.

HB 2009:

Status: In House Committee on Rules

Scheduled Events:

SB 610:

Status: In Senate Committee on Rules

Scheduled Events:

Oregon Center for Public Policy Fact Sheet on $15 Minimum Wage

HB 2008/SB 327 Increases Oregon minimum wage rate in graduated steps to $13.50 by 2017. The bill has been referred to the House Business and Labor Committee and the Senate Workforce Committee. The bill has to pass out of this committee if it is going to move to the floor for a vote.

HB 2008:

Status: In Senate Committee on Rules

Scheduled Events:

SB 327:

Status: In Senate Committee on Rules

Scheduled Events:

Equal Pay for Women (HB 2006)

Makes practice of paying employees of opposite sex who hold equivalent jobs at different wage rates unlawful employment practice.

HB 2006:

Status: In House Committee on Business and Labor

Local Elected Officials on Committee: Sal Esquivel

Scheduled Events: Work session 4/20

End Wage Theft (HB 2212)

Authorizes imposition of civil penalty against employer that fails to pay wages owing to employee on regular payday.

Pay It Forward (HB 2662)

 Instead of making payments in advance of attending college students would first sign a contract and agree to pay a fraction of their income for an appropriated amount of time following completion of their studies and finding work.

HB 2662

Status: In House Committee on Revenue, subsequent referral to Joint Committee on Ways and Means

Local Elected Officials on Committee: Peter Buckley (Ways & Means)

Scheduled Events: None scheduled at this time.

Secure Retirement (SB 615)

Creates Oregon Savings Board in Office of State Treasurer. This bill has come out of the work of Governor Kitzhaber after he signed HB3436, a bill that created the bi-partisan Oregon Retirement Savings Task Force. This task force put forward the idea of a state-sponsored retirement plan. The Oregon’s savings program will include the following key elements: 1) Easy for employers to implement, 2) Includes auto-enrollment, 3) Portable for Individuals, and 4) Limits the states exposure risk.

SB 615:

Status: In Senate Committee on Rules

Local Elected Officials on Committee: None

Scheduled Events: No meetings currently scheduled

Lifting the Ban on Inclusionary Zoning (HB 2564)

By lifting the ban on inclusionary zoning, cities and counties across the state will have the ability to use this effective tool to develop local solutions to address local problems. Lifting the ban on inclusionary zoning will help to alleviate poverty, and racial segregation, free limited public resources for families most in need, and promote community health, prosperity, and social equality.

Status: In Senate Committee on Human Services and Early Childhood

Local Elected Officials on Committee: None

Scheduled Events: Public Hearing and Possible Work Session 5/19/2015

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New Report on Healthcare Access

Signed into law in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) aimed to bring the uninsured more fully into the health care delivery system, improve access to health care providers, spur new approaches to patient well-being and disease prevention, attack racial disparities in health care and outcomes in communities of color, and hold providers accountable with respect to costs. By February 2015, 11.4 million Americans had signed up for private health insurance coverage through marketplace exchanges. An additional 8.7 million people gained coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The percentage of uninsured Americans dropped from 18 percent in 2013 to 12.9 percent at the end of 2014. By any standard, these numbers are impressive. But experience of the ACA at the ground level has been uneven across states and across communities. Reaching the ACA’s goals for enrollment and health care delivery reform will require learning from efforts to date and refining approaches to better meet the needs of all communities.

Oregon Action is proud to have been part of a nationwide grassroots effort to collect surveys from community members about their experiences with healthcare access after the implementation of the ACA. Follow the link below to read the full report on healthcare access from the community perspective:

Read the full report from the Alliance for a Just Society

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Gov. Kate Brown: Experienced, Committed, Prepared to Lead

Kate Brown, Oregon’s 38th Governor (photo)

Kate Brown, Oregon’s 38th Governor

 

After nearly 25 years serving the people of Oregon in public office, Kate Brown stands uniquely prepared to become Oregon’s 38th Governor. Kate Brown began her career as a family law advocate where she learned firsthand the struggles of families trying to make ends meet and women escaping domestic violence, as well as the need to protect children and seniors on fixed incomes. This experience led her to run for public office to help represent those without a voice in the political system, to promote economic fairness, and reform state government so that it works for all of us. Her signature accomplishment is establishing a comprehensive and timely system for tracking campaign contributions to keep the public informed of the money moving behind Oregon’s political campaigns. Her commitment to accountability and transparency makes her the perfect person to lead the state at this important time. She is known for her positive and inclusive style, and commitment to getting things done.

Governor Brown is the leader who will:

  • Restore trust in government

Kate has a solid record of leading efforts on government accountability and reform.

As a legislator, Kate Brown organized a bipartisan group of legislators and led the effort to pass Oregon’s most significant campaign finance law. Because of her work, all political contributions and expenditures are reported and accessible to the public.

Kate Brown has also pushed to strengthen the integrity of Oregon’s citizens initiative system – and earned Oregon the highest ranking in the country for transparency, fairness and integrity in the ballot initiative process.

Because of her record, she is the right leader at the right time to restore trust in government.

  • Standing up for everyday Oregonians

With Kate Brown’s help just over 22 years ago, Oregon was one of the first states to pass Family and Medical Leave. That battle and that victory were what propelled her into public service, and still today, she gets up everyday determined to keep fighting for what is right and just, for the values of decency and fairness, and for that legacy of innovation and leadership that we hold so dear here in Oregon.

She has always been on side of working families – she’s got the record to prove it – and she will be a governor we can trust.

  • Getting us back to work

Kate Brown is known for her energy and drive to get things done. That’s why she’s got an incredible track record – and why we can trust her to see that state government gets back to business.

Her focus has resulted in putting Oregon on the map – and head of the pack – on policies that matter Oregon families. And she’s been relentless in taking her message of the importance of voting and participation in state government to every corner of Oregon.

Kate Brown has run the Secretary of State’s office with “small d” democratic values – because she knows Oregonians want elections rooted in transparency and their right to vote protected. Kate has focused her time on holding government accountable, better serving our small businesses, ensuring integrity in our elections and that all eligible Oregonians are able to cast their ballot. All of her priorities are ways in which she has strengthened our state and the very foundations of our democracy.

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New Jobs Don’t Pay Enough for Workers to Make Ends Meet

Oregon Action calls for raising the minimum wage in Oregon

PORTLAND, Oregon. — While Oregon has seen jobs added to our economy since the recession, the bad news is that nearly half of those new jobs openings don’t pay enough for full-time workers to cover their basic living expenses.

Today, Oregon Action is releasing “Low Wage Nation,” a national study showing that, contrary to rosy job growth reports, the projected new job openings in Oregon are in occupations that pay wages so low they keep families trapped in poverty. Jobs that do pay a living wage or better are scarce.

“If you are working full-time, your wages ought to cover basic living expenses, and that’s just not happening for many workers here in Oregon, said Darlene Huntress, Executive Director of Oregon Action. “ ‘Low Wage Nation’ paints a sobering picture of just how hard it is to find a living wage job here. It’s impossible for a family trying to survive.”

“Low Wage Nation” is part of The Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series produced by the Alliance for a Just Society.

A living wage is the hourly pay a worker must earn to cover basic expenses, with a little to put away for an emergency.

  • In Oregon, 49 percent of job openings pay less than $15.96 an hour, the living wage for a single adult working full-time. Nearly 85 percent pay less than $30.75 an hour, the wage needed for a single adult with two children to make ends meet.
  • For each job opening that pays at least $15.96 an hour, there are nine job-seekers on average. For a single adult with two children, there are 31 job-seekers for every job opening that pays enough to keep the family afloat.

“(In 2010), the only job I could find after many months of searching was at a Walmart. Although I worked as many hours as I could, and sold plasma for additional income, I could not afford to pay all my bills,” said Keith Haxton, an Ashland resident whose story was featured in the national report. “My car was repossessed, my phone was turned off, and my credit cards were cancelled. I quickly found that my Walmart wage could not support college attendance.”

“We have to take concrete steps toward addressing the systemic economic inequality that benefits corporations at the expense of working people, women, and people of color,” said Huntress. “And we also need to find immediate solutions that will improve the materials conditions of so many struggling Oregonians—like raising the minimum wage.  There are proposals in the legislature to do that and this report reflects an urgent need for legislators to act now.  Their constituents deserve a wage that allows them to meet basic needs and still put a little away every month for emergencies.”

“ ‘Low Wage Nation’ clearly illustrates a crisis in our country. Half of the new job openings nationwide pay wages that keep full-time workers trapped in poverty,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of Alliance for a Just Society. “A full-time job should lead to financial stability, not poverty.”

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.

 Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research and organizing network with 15 state affiliates that focuses on health, racial and economic justice. The Alliance has produced Job Gap studies since 1999.

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