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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Governor Brown Signs Four Bills to Strengthen the Economic Security of Working Families

Oregon leads the country with a slate of legislation that includes paid sick days, retirement security, ‘banning the box’, and ending profiling

July 13, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Dahlia Grossman-Heinze, dahlia@brinkcomm.com, 562-212-2999

Photos updating at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregongovbrown/albums

(Salem, Ore.)—Governor Kate Brown today signed into law four polices that will create economic opportunity for Oregon’s working families: expanding access to paid sick days, making saving for retirement easier, “banning the box” to create job opportunities for people with prior convictions and arrests, and ending profiling based on race, gender and sexual orientation.

“I was thrilled to sign these four pieces of legislation that will strengthen the economic security of working families in our state,” said Governor Brown. “I want to thank the Legislature and the advocates for their tireless work to get these bills to my desk. Yet, our work is not done. There are still people with full time jobs who are unable to make ends meet. We must carry on the fight to ensure all Oregonians have the opportunity to earn a living wage.”

The four bills are part of the Fair Shot For All legislative agenda announced by the coalition in January, just before the start of the Oregon 2015 Legislative Session. Over twenty Oregon labor unions, community groups and racial justice organizations came together to form Fair Shot For All. The coalition focuses on addressing longstanding economic inequality, fixing our broken economy and giving all Oregonians a fair shot at success.

“Fair Shot For All set out this session to win real improvements in the lives of Oregonians, and working families, small business owners, and community leaders from all over the state were behind us every step of the way,” said Andrea Paluso, Fair Shot For All Co-Chair and Family Forward Oregon Executive Director. “Today, we’re pleased to stand with Governor Brown and celebrate four major victories that help mark this legislative session as one of the most significant in recent history for Oregon’s working families. ”

The remaining bill in the Fair Shot For All agenda, raising the minimum wage, will be considered when the legislature reconvenes in January 2016. Below is a listing of the four bills signed into law:

Expanding Access to Sick Time

Senate Bill 454, the paid sick time bill, creates a statewide standard so workers in businesses with 10 or more employees can earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours (about five days) in a year. Workers in smaller businesses with less than 10 employees will receive job protection for up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time a year.

Just under half a million working Oregonians will soon earn sick time that can be used for the diagnosis, care or treatment of the worker or a member of their family or in instances of domestic violence. The bill also protects employees from retaliation or discrimination for the use of sick time.

Banning the Box
House Bill 3025 prohibits employers from including questions about applicants’ criminal history on job applications.

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.

In Oregon, nearly 5,000 people are released from prison every year. By removing the box, people will have a better chance at getting back to work and rebuilding their lives, becoming productive members of society who pay taxes and support other local businesses.

Making Saving For Retirement Easier

House Bill 2960 provides every Oregonian with a safe, easy and effective way to save for retirement.  A state-sponsored plan will make it incredibly easy for small business owners to offer retirement plans– they will only need to add a line item to the monthly pay stub.

Currently, nearly half of all Oregonians do not have a retirement plan at work. As a result, many are at risk of living in poverty when they retire – unable to cover basic living and medical expenses. Oregon’s senior population is projected to increase from 502,000 to 950,000 by 2030. By taking action, Oregon has helped avoid a social and state budgetary crisis for the state.

Ending Profiling

House Bill 2002 bans the practice of profiling as a law enforcement tactic. Oregon will soon shift to community policing, a more effective public safety strategy that fosters trust between law enforcement officers and communities.

People in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are targeted the most, leading to higher arrest and conviction rates among people of color generally—and African-Americans specifically. Many are already struggling to make ends meet and risk harsher penalties and extra fees when they can’t afford to pay the fines that often result from unfair profiling—putting their jobs on the line and their families at risk.

By ending profiling, Oregon will start to change the culture of policing, making neighborhoods safer and communities stronger.

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About the Fair Shot For All Coalition:

Fair Shot For All is a broad coalition of community and labor organizations from across Oregon that are pushing for real policy solutions that address economic inequality, give a better future for all Oregonians and strengthen Oregon’s economy. These include: raising the minimum wage; ensuring all Oregonians earn paid sick days; ending profiling; making saving for retirement easier; and creating opportunities for people with prior convictions and arrests to find work.

Fair Shot For All includes Family Forward Oregon, SEIU, AFSCME, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Basic Rights Oregon, CAUSA, Center for Intercultural Organizing, Forward Together, Impact NW, Jobs with Justice, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, Northwest Workers’ Justice Project, Oregon Action, Oregon AFL-CIO, Oregon Education Association, Oregon Nurses Association, Partnership for Safety and Justice, PCUN, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, Rural Organizing Project, UFCW, the Urban League of Portland, VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project, and YWCA.

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Legislature approves ‘End Profiling’ legislation, sends bill to Governor Brown for signature

July 1, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Mike Westling
(503) 498-8161
mike@brinkcomm.com

HB 2002 brings together law enforcement and communities around data collection, improved reporting, increased accountability

Salem, Ore. – The Oregon Senate approved legislation Wednesday to ban the practice of profiling as a law enforcement tactic with a vote of 28 to 1. HB 2002 will now head to Governor Kate Brown’s desk for her signature.

HB 2002 has received bipartisan support in both chambers of the Oregon legislature and has the backing of the Center for Intercultural Organizing, the NAACP, Basic Rights Oregon, Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, and the Oregon Sheriff’s Association.

“Profiling corrodes the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said House Speaker Tina Kotek. “To eliminate profiling, we need to face it head on, recognize it and provide the means to report and address the problem when it occurs.”

“We need this law to protect the credibility of the policing function, because it is vital to our functioning civic life,” according to Chief Sponsor Representative Lew Frederick. “When people avoid calling the police because they fear them, the breakdown of civic order is almost as scary as the gun I faced during a nonsensical traffic stop. Imagine your reaction if you were pulled over in your car, or stopped while walking, for no discernible reason. Then imagine that it happens again and again. If you can imagine that, you’ve imagined a piece of our world. Profiling degrades the quality of our everyday lives. It needs to be illegal. It needs to stop.”

Currently in Oregon, each law enforcement agency is left to decide their own definition and process on profiling. Profiling occurs in every part of the state and impacts many different communities, and until now there has been no coordinated state policy to address it.

“The bottom line: profiling doesn’t make our communities safer,” said Senator Alan Bates. “By defining, tracking, and addressing profiling when it occurs, we can protect the freedoms of Oregonians while supporting our law enforcement community.”

HB 2002 defines profiling and clearly bans law enforcement from using profiling as a tactic in Oregon. The bill also requires law enforcement agencies to collect complaint data about profiling and establishes a process for accepting and addressing profiling complaints.

“Profiling occurs daily in many forms across Oregon, making those who are targeted by police often feel like prisoners in their own communities,” said Kayse Jama, Executive Director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing. “By defining profiling and establishing a consistent process for recording complaints, we can help build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This legislation is an important step toward ending a systemic problem, but it does not mean our work is done. Actual change has to be felt on the ground.”

“To believe that there is no profiling within our state is to ignore the daily struggles that our minority communities go through because of profiling,”said Ricardo Lujan, Board Member for Oregon Action. “I encourage everyone to challenge themselves and become more aware of this issue and how it affects our neighbors. It is important for Oregon to make a change so that our neighbors, friends and families can feel safer.”

In addition, the bill would also create the Law Enforcement Profiling Work Group, a new entity 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.

“Profiling has no place in professional policing – it is discriminatory and ineffective,” said Kevin Campbell, Executive Director of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police. “Law enforcement leaders here in Oregon continue to work to ensure that we have the most professional and just policing culture in the nation, to take reports of profiling seriously and to take action to make our communities safer. We’re supporting HB 2002 because we recognize that strong partnerships, better data, and additional options for citizens to file concerns and complaints all help law enforcement officers do their jobs.”

If you would like to interview Kayse Jama, Ricardo Lujan, or Kevin Campbell, please contact Mike Westling at mike@brinkcomm.com or (503) 498-8161 to coordinate.

About Fair Shot for All

Fair Shot For All is a broad coalition of community and labor groups that have joined together to push for real policy solutions that address economic inequality and give a better future for all Oregonians. This includes Family Forward Oregon, SEIU, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Basic Rights Oregon, CAUSA, Center for Intercultural Organizing, Oregon Education Association, PCUN, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, Rural Organizing Project, UFCW, and the Urban League of Portland, Oregon.

Our priorities are at the center of the economic debate happening both in Oregon, throughout our local communities and on a national stage. Together, we are mobilizing Oregonians and giving a voice to those who need a fair shot.

To learn more, visit www.fairshotoregon.org

 

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Supreme Court Victory

Rogue Valley residents celebrate the Affordable Care Act and what it means to our community.

Today, the Supreme Court rejected an attack on the Affordable Care Act, our country’s historic health care law. Now more than 8 million people can rest more easily knowing that their health insurance won’t be stripped away.

Oregon Action is proud to be a leader in the fight for health care for everyone in Oregon, and the passage of the ACA was a major victory.  Twice that law has come under attack in our highest court—and twice the United States Supreme Court has ruled that it’s here to stay.  There is reason to celebrate for those 6 million Americans whose health insurance was in jeopardy.

But let’s be clear: our work isn’t done.  Across this country many people – disproportionately people of color – are still shut out of quality health care because of cost, the language they speak, or, in some states, lawmakers’ refusal to expand Medicaid. Here in Oregon, 20,000 low-income children are categorically excluded from the medical assistance provided by the Oregon Health Authority.  It’s time to stop fighting over whether everyone in this country deserves quality, affordable healthcare—and it’s time to make healthcare a reality for all of us.

So today we celebrate, and tomorrow we go back to work to ensure everyone have access to quality, affordable, culturally appropriate care that we need.

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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 June 24th, 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 … Continue reading

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