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A new survey shows discrimination in medical settings affects quality of care; U.S. Supreme Court rejects vaccine and testing mandates for businesses; and New York moves toward electric school buses.


U.S. House passes a new voting rights bill, setting up a Senate showdown; President Biden announces expanded COVID testing, and Jan. 6 Committee requests an interview with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.


New website profiles missing and murdered Native Americans; more support for young, rural Minnesotans who've traded sex for food, shelter, drugs or alcohol; more communities step up to solve "period poverty;" and find your local gardener - Jan. 29 is National Seed Swap Day.

OR Lawmakers Asked to Do More to Fight Wage Theft


Monday, January 11, 2016   

SALEM, Ore. - Some Oregon workers aren't getting paid what they are owed, and at a committee hearing in Salem this week, state lawmakers will get a first look at upcoming legislation to curb wage theft.

Just since Thanksgiving, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) has announced settlements recovering $2.7 million in unpaid wages for construction workers on state-funded projects. But Michael Dale, executive director, Northwest Workers Justice Project, says BOLI has less staff and a bigger workload than in the 1990s.

He says workers in many fields, particularly in rural Oregon, can't always get the help they need if they aren't being paid fairly – or paid at all.

"The notion that somehow now, the problem is solved – no," says Dale. "Wage theft continues to be a pervasive and broad problem that needs attention. BOLI needs resources, and private workers need to have the ability to enforce their wage claims themselves."

He says the proposal includes giving workers better access to their payroll records, without having to file a lawsuit or a wage claim with BOLI, making it a felony to not pay prevailing wages on jobs, and requiring companies that have had wage-theft problems to post bonds.

Dale says wage theft takes many forms, from refusing to pay, to classifying workers as independent contractors to keep from paying overtime, to asking people to work extra hours "off the clock." He points out that wage theft affects not just individuals, but entire communities.

"Nobody spends the money that they didn't get paid in the grocery store," says Dale. "And it's a problem for other employers, because if an employer is trying to do the right thing, they have to compete with people that may not have the same cost structure because they're not paying their workers right. And that's bad for the economy."

He adds the ideas in the draft legislation have had some backing when they've come up before in Salem in different bills, and are being combined to help get them through the short session in February.

The hearing is Wed., Jan. 13, at 2:00 p.m. in the Senate Workforce and General Government Committee, at the State Capitol.

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