NWJP is part of a powerful coalition working to pass a major piece of legislation in Salem this session. Alongside the Working Families Party, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, the Oregon Trial Lawyers’ Association, Service Employees International Union Locals 49 and 503, and the AFL-CIO, and other members of the Coalition to Stop Wage Theft, NWJP is working hard to pass the Oregon Corporate Accountability Act (OCAA).
Working families have won important victories on a range of workplace rights in the past five years: a dramatic increase to the minimum wage, paid sick leave, fair scheduling and equal pay guarantees. However, these victories need to be meaningfully enforced if workers are to benefit from them, and that is where OCAA comes in.
How Does it Work? The Oregon Corporate Accountability Act will deputize whistleblowers who identify violations to bring cases on behalf of the state. Briefly, the process goes like this:
- A worker files a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industries. Whistleblowers who fear retaliation can also authorize a nonprofit community organization to file the complaint.
- BOLI decides whether to bring an action or let the whistleblower manage the suit on the state’s behalf. If the whistleblower proceeds, the state continues to oversee the litigation.
- If a judge finds that the company broke the law, the company is ordered to pay penalties based on the number of impacted workers – so, small businesses will pay small fines and multinational corporations will pay large ones.
- Most of the penalty revenue goes to the state, with a portion rewarding the whistleblowers. The state can use the revenue to hire more investigators, invest in technology to streamline enforcement, or partner with community organizations to educate consumers and workers about their rights and identify violations.
We are happy to report that OCAA was voted out of the Senate Workforce committee this week, clearing its first major hurdle.
OCAA is a bill about enforcing our worker protection laws, and on advocacy day this year, we will share stories of under-enforcement and encourage our elected leaders to pass this important bill. We will have a training and orientation before any meetings take place, so don't worry if you haven't done this sort of thing before. Now is the time to get involved! Please RSVP by filling out this form.
We will be advocating together from 10 AM to 3 PM at the State Capitol on April 23rd. Lunch is provided. Please reach out to Kate Suisman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 503-525-8454 with questions. We look forward to seeing you there.