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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Advancing Justice through Policy: 2015 Oregon Legislative Priorities

(Updated April 7th, 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: In House Committee on Health Care

Local Elected Officials on Committee: none

Scheduled Events: Public hearing and work session 4/15, lobby day 4/27

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

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 Business and Labor

Local Elected Officials on Committee: Sal Esquivel
Scheduled Events: Work Session 4/20

SB 454

Status: In Joint Committee on Ways and Means

Local Elected Officials on Committee: Peter Buckley, Alan Bates

Scheduled Events: None scheduled at this time.

End Profiling (HB 2001, HB 2002, HB 2003, & 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 2001

Status: In House Committee on Judiciary

Local Elected Officials on Committee: None

Scheduled Events: No meetings currently scheduled

HB 2002

Status: In House Committee on Judiciary

Local Elected Officials on Committee: None

Scheduled Events: Work session 4/15

HB 2003

Status: In House Committee on Judiciary

Local Elected Officials on Committee: None

Scheduled Events: No meetings currently scheduled

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: In House Committee on Business and Labor

Local Elected Officials on Committee: Sal Esquivel

Scheduled Events: Work session 4/17

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 Business and Labor

Local Elected Officials on Committee: Sal Esquivel

Scheduled Events: Work session 4/20

SB 610:

Status: In Senate Committee on Workforce

Local Elected Officials on Committee: none

Scheduled Events: Work session 4/20

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 House Committee on Business and Labor

Local Elected Officials on Committee: Sal Esquivel

Scheduled Events: Work session 4/20

SB 327:

Status: In Senate Committee on Workforce

Local Elected Officials on Committee: None

Scheduled Events: Work session 4/20

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.

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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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A fair shot for all: addressing our low-wage crisis

Medford Mail Tribune, guest opinion published Sunday, January 17. 2015


By Michelle Glass

Why are wages in the Rogue Valley so low and what can we do about it?

A new research report sheds light on some of the causes and proposes some solutions.

Highly profitable global corporations such as Walmart and McDonald’s come into our valley, take our consumer dollars, and leave behind poverty wages for many of their workers.

These huge companies pay so little not because that’s all they can afford but because doing so means more profits for billionaire shareholders and bigger bonuses for top executives.

Take Walmart as an example. A detailed analysis by Fortune magazine found that Walmart could afford to raise workers’ pay by 50 percent without raising prices one penny. U.S. News & World Report presented a separate analysis reaching a similar conclusion — an average wage of $14.89 without any increase in prices.

The difference between what companies like Walmart could pay and what they do pay is money they are taking not only from workers and their families but from all of us.

It’s money that could otherwise be spent in local businesses, which in turn could pay their workers more and provide more jobs.

In addition, it’s money that taxpayers make up for by providing various kinds of public assistance that low-wage workers need just to survive because their pay is so low.

“The High Cost of Low Wages,” a new report from the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center (LERC), found that our state’s taxpayers spend over $1.7 billion per year to subsidize corporations’ reliance on an underpaid, low-wage workforce. The largest share of these deadbeat companies are large, profitable corporations in retail, fast food and health care, researchers found.

That subsidy from you and me contributes each year to the steadily increasing wealth of the members of the Walton family who inherited Walmart — a total that at last count was nearly $150 billion.

The report found that over 400,000 Oregonians — roughly 25 percent of the state’s workforce — are in jobs that pay $12 an hour or less. Nearly 197,000 workers must rely on public benefits to make up for their low pay. Researchers noted that while Oregon has one of the highest percentages of workers who have to turn to state assistance, it has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the country.

Low wages are a major reason that the “economic recovery” has bypassed many working Oregonians and gone straight to the wealthiest, with 95 percent of the income gains from 2009 to 2012 going to the top 1 percent in income. From 2002 to 2012, the bottom three-quarters of Oregon’s income earners saw their net income decrease.

In responding to the report, the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association defended companies such as McDonald’s, claiming that they are just a collection of local franchises that, in turn, pay so little because they operate on small profit margins. This argument was recently rejected by federal investigators who found that McDonald’s, which nets $5.5 billion in profits per year, dictates key terms to its franchises. Excess profits flow to the top of the corporate pyramid (where the CEO makes more than $9,000 per hour) instead of staying in our communities.

Fair Shot Oregon, a coalition of community and union groups, responded to the report by calling on the Oregon Legislature to take steps in this year’s session to start addressing the low-wage crisis in our state.

Some immediate steps include raising the minimum wage, ensuring that all Oregon workers earn paid sick days, making it easier to save for retirement, and ending employment discrimination against residents who have served their time in the criminal justice system.

While corporate officials often deflect a discussion about low wages by claiming that individual workers just need to get more education, almost half of those interviewed for the new report had at least some college training, yet were not able to find better paying jobs in line with their education. Those who seek more education also are likely to end up with crushing debt.

The low-wage crisis in the Rogue Valley and across the state affects all of us, as workers, families, small business owners and taxpayers. The first step is to recognize that low wages are partly a result of conscious corporate policies that can be changed with enough grassroots pressure. The next step is to urge our public officials to take practical action now.

Michelle Glass is the Southern Oregon regional organizer for Oregon Action, a grassroots organization focused on economic issues affecting working people.

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Be a Player for Single Payer

Be a Player for Single Payer Fundraiser
(Supports the February 11th Bus Trip to Salem)

Tuesday, January 27 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the beautiful Paschal Winery 1122 Suncrest Road in Talent (on the east side of 1-5)

Listen to live music by Broadway Phil Newton and Jake Thompson, Watch a short version of The Health Care Movie, Enjoy free food and a cash bar

See full flyer here: Be a Player for Single Payer – Sign

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What We Accomplished Together

Thank you for making 2014 a great year for advancing justice! We are so excited to share our 2014 organizing report with you. In the full report, linked here, you can read all the details as well as great stories from the people we’ve met and the leaders who have inspired us this year.

The infographics below contain highlights of what we accomplished together. But this is just the beginning. We hope you will join us by making a donation today or volunteering with us in 2015 as we work for a bold vision of justice for everyone right here at home.

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Sheriff’s sergeant calls LGBTQ people “abomination”

UCCMedfordLRPLogoHRSOPrideThis is a public response from the Medford Congregational United Church of Christ Church, Lotus Rising Project, Southern Oregon Pride, and Oregon Action.

A Jackson County patrol sergeant said in the Mail Tribune (Nov. 3, 2014) that the gay and lesbian members of our community are “an abomination.”

This follows his public statement a year earlier that personal beliefs, rather than the law and the constitution, would be his governing guide.

Please read the letters that are shown below. And then please do two things…

  1. Sign the online petition to Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters and County Commissioners Doug Breidenthal, John Rachor, and Don Skundrick (all of whom will be in office until January). The online petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/public-safety-and-equal-justice, also can be found via SOPride’s Facebook page.
  1. Forward this appeal to your own email lists and through Facebook and other social media.

As you can see, the petition calls on the sheriff’s department and the county to repudiate those statements and to publicly affirm that the county will value and respect everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, or any other factor.

Without clear public statements from Sheriff Winters and the county commissioners, we are left with the impression that gay and lesbian people who are stopped by sheriffs’ department employees or seek their help cannot assume that their safety and legal rights will be protected.

Thank you for your prompt action.

Letter to the editor published in Medford Mail Tribune, Monday, November 3, 2014

Bible is the guide

This is in response to Noni McCrillis’ (Sept. 25) letter. First, I’d wonder if the writer picks and chooses which parts of the Bible she wants to accept. Second, I’m not, nor are other Christians, trying to run anyone’s life; the Bible should be your guide for a correctly run life.

What I read in the Bible says a man and another man should not even be in the relationship described, calling it an abomination in Leviticus 18:22, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” So forget the issue of whether they should be allowed to be married. Further proof is in Romans 1:27, which states, “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”

So not only is it called an abomination, but unseemly. Like I wrote earlier, the right to marry or the definition of marriage is secondary, two men shouldn’t even be in this un-Biblical relationship.

Dace Cochran, Medford

Letter to the editor published in Medford Mail Tribune, November 3, 2013

Bible’s stance is obvious

This is regarding the letter from the Rev. Caren Caldwell in the Oct. 5 edition. As a minister, I would assume that the writer is familiar with the Bible and the obvious stance it takes on homosexuality.

Twice in Leviticus it is said, essentially, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.” I don’t know how the good Reverend gets around that, other than to say the ceremonies are joy-filled with excited and delighted attendees.

Well, taken to an extreme, let’s have pet owners marry their dog and cat. I’m sure the event would be a happy one with all the proper pomp and circumstance, but that doesn’t make it right and the state of Oregon wouldn’t recognize it.

The same goes for same-sex marriages. They’re wrong no matter how you spin them, recognizing the Bible as the ultimate authority in the matter. So don’t chastise me as unloving or legalistic, unless you can show me in the Bible where you can back your position up. As for my vote, I look forward to my no vote whenever it unfortunately and inevitably comes to that point.

Dace Cochran, Medford

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