As the daughter of a firefighter, I learned the value of hard work and service early on. I started out as a waitress and later raised two kids while launching a career. I understand the daily struggles that working families face. That’s why, when I had the opportunity to serve families in the Oregon Legislature, I became their champion. Leading the fight to pass Paid Sick Days legislation, increase Oregon’s minimum wage, and crack down on wage theft. I secured tens of millions of dollars in new funding for Career & Technical Education, bringing 21st Century shop class back into schools across the state. And I worked with both labor and the business community to ensure that everyone had a voice at the table.
As the Oregon' Labor Commissioner, my priorities include:
Standing Up for Oregon Workers
As Labor Commissioner, I will safeguard and enforce the rights of Oregon workers to organize and bargain collectively. I will ensure that employers are following the law, and that workers are paid the wages and benefits they are owed for the work that they do.
Protecting the Civil Rights of All Oregonians
The Labor Commissioner also oversees civil rights enforcement in Oregon. I will be a staunch defender of the civil rights of all Oregonians. I’ve never been afraid to stand up for those who might not be able to defend themselves. During my time in the Legislature I was an ardent defender of policies designed to protect the civil and labor rights of our most vulnerable neighbors, and I will continue to do so as Labor Commissioner.
Streamlining Enforcement Investigations
Right now, some BOLI investigations are lingering for months on end without a resolution, leaving both workers and employers with uncertainty. That’s not right, and I will make certain that we have the resources we need to complete timely investigations into potential violations of the law, and weed out frivolous claims early on in the process. A worker who has been the victim of wage theft can’t wait forever to be made whole; and a business owner shouldn’t be left hanging for months worried about a meritless claim that has been filed against them.
Partnering with Employers
Employers shouldn’t be afraid to contact BOLI with questions and concerns about how the law works. The agency should be a resource for the business community. I’ll bring a customer service focus to BOLI and beef up the Technical Assistance program for employers to make sure that our businesses have accurate, timely information about how to comply with our laws. Nobody should be put in the position of being punished for making an honest mistake, and businesses who are following our wage and hour laws shouldn’t have to compete with businesses who aren’t.
I will also partner with Oregon’s business community to identify the skills that they need from employees and develop partnerships with the trades, community colleges and the private sector to create training programs that will deliver the workforce needed to attract and retain employers.
Building the Workforce Oregon Needs
Our changing economy demands a highly-skilled workforce that can meet today’s employment needs. Not every student will attend a four-year college after high school, but everyone deserves a chance to succeed and find a career path with good wages and benefits. That’s why I will partner with business and education leaders to expand career and technical education opportunities in our middle and high schools, with a direct connection to apprenticeship programs, especially in the trades.
But it’s not just about education at the K-12 level, or apprenticeship programs. Workers shouldn’t be left behind in a shifting economy. We also need to focus on making sure our existing workforce has the skills they need to get high-wage jobs. I will create new programs to retrain displaced and more experienced workers, so they can continue to share in our economic success.