Unemployment insurance, Wage Security Fund and age discrimination raised
Monday, February 10, 2020
At the start of one of the more politically turbulent sessions in Oregon’s history, some complex employment bills have vied for attention.
Cap and trade
Senate Bill 1530 completely consumed the session’s first week. Three public hearings were held, and advocacy groups swarmed the Capitol throughout the week, including a Timber Unity rally that brought thousands of individuals to speak against the concept. Chief sponsor Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, introduced an amendment in the hopes of garnering support from business stakeholders. Opponents seemed to consider the changes insignificant. Despite the opposition, Dembrow seems motivated to move the bill to the Joint Ways and Means Committee for further consideration. Republicans have not ruled out denying a quorum if the bill is brought to the floor for a vote. Thursday’s rally emboldened those wanting to hold the line.
House Bill 4007, a House Business and Labor Committee bill, would provide that individuals otherwise eligible for unemployment insurance benefits are not disqualified for benefits due to labor disputes (i.e. strikes) at an individual’s place of employment. This bill was drafted at the request of the AFL-CIO. It has raised significant concerns from the business community and public employers regarding the impact on unemployment insurance costs and the prospect of making the Oregon Employment Department a player in labor disputes.
Wage Security Fund
House Bill 4087, introduced by Rep. Julie Fahey, D-Eugene, redirects civil penalties from the Common School Fund to the Wage Security Fund and to support technical assistance from the Bureau of Labor and Industries. Business stakeholders have expressed concerns that this legislation will incentivize civil penalties, resulting in increased costs for businesses. Education advocates, including OSBA, have voiced concern with the redirection of dollars from schools to BOLI. Negotiations are ongoing, but BOLI has suggested a cap on civil penalties.
House Bill 4076, which would establish a task force on age discrimination to develop legislation for the 2021 session, passed out of the House Business and Labor Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 5. AARP is the primary stakeholder pushing this bill, and Rep. Carla Piluso, D-Gresham, is the chief bill sponsor. Businesses are closely tracking the bill’s movement to ensure that the task force has appropriate representation from employers.