Weekly Update: Legislative Session Round-Up
Bad Bills and New Laws
March 5th ended the first even-yeared legislative session since voters passed a law allowing annual sessions in Oregon. While the one-month long session was meant to balance the budget, many policy bills were introduced as well.
For working people in Oregon, the results were a mixed bag: no real harm was done to workers, outside of the budget cuts that will ultimately mean lost jobs and fewer available services; but many good policy bills that would have helped to create jobs in Oregon and to keep Oregonians' money circulating through our state economy never saw the light of day.
Bills that would have tightened up state contracts to ensure our dollars are spent wisely, and to change the bidding process on state contracts so that local bidders who offer benefits like healthcare that workers, or the state, would otherwise have to pay for wouldn't be penalized for the cost of those benefits, both failed after receiving brief hearings.
But a bill that gives local transit agencies more flexibility to purchase vehicles that are made in the United States, and one that prevents companies from posting job advertisements that tell unemployed workers they need not apply, both passed unanimously.
Unions also helped to prevent multiple anti-worker bills from passing, and we worked with our allies in the legislature to stop a fringe group of conservative lawmakers from rolling back the important cost-benefit analysis that public entities are required to perform before they contract out jobs. The analysis ensures that we really are saving money if we contract out work, and that those savings aren't achieved solely by lowering wages and taking away benefits.
A full analysis of the legislative session will be on our website soon.
In Other News...
COPE Meets, Endorses in State, Congressional Races
The Oregon AFL-CIO COPE met on Friday to consider a series of endorsements, including three of our Congressional delegates, and a number of state senators and representatives.
Discussions focused around finding candidates who support workers in all sectors of the economy - and working with other unions to build stronger relationships with elected officials who are strong advocates for some workers but don't always understand the issues other Oregonians face on the job.
A complete list of endorsements, including those made in December, will be available at www.oraflcio.org in the coming weeks.
99% "Stalled in the Parking Lot"
A new study shows that the vast majority of the growth seen since the recession officially "ended" has gone to the top one percent - which is why it still feels like a recession for so many families.
And a chart printed in the Wall Street Journal this week confirms that the top one percent may get hit the hardest, as a percentage of earnings, during down times, but the huge growth they see in their incomes during good times more than makes up for the difference.
Find the Wall Street Journal article, the original study, and commentary at http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Economy/1-Got-93-of-U.S.-Income-in-2009-2010-More-Long-Term-Jobless-Than-Reported.