Attorney And Former Legislator Desire To Become Oregon’s Labour Commissioner

The position of director of the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries is up for grabs between a lawyer and a former state legislator. The office is a watchdog for civil rights that enforces several laws, educates businesses on those laws, and looks into civil rights abuses in workplaces, housing, and public places.

The $200 million Future Ready Oregon plan, which aims to strengthen the state workforce by preparing and training workers, includes a $35 million budget, more than 100 personnel, and an entity that the labour commissioner would oversee.

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To succeed the outgoing labour commissioner Val Hoyle, seven candidates ran in the primaries.

Christina Stephenson, an attorney, received 46.9% of the vote in the May election, falling short of the 50% mark required to avoid a two-person runoff. With 20% of the vote, former state legislator Cheri Helt placed second.

Details about the candidates:

Cheri Helt Helt is a restaurateur from Bend and a former state representative. She graduated from Michigan State with a degree in psychology. According to her website, she and her husband Steve moved to Oregon 18 years ago.

Helt declined an interview request from the Statesman Journal before the deadline for this piece, but in a prior interview, she listed her experience as a legislator, company owner, and school board member as qualifications.

She served on the Bend-La Pine School Board for nine years, during which time she was instrumental in getting Measure 98 passed in 2016.

“High schools now receive career and technical education through a defined line item in our budget,” Helt added.

She also mentioned her previous experience managing a restaurant with 60 employees and her accomplishments doing so while the COVID-19 pandemic was going on and rules were constantly changing.

Helt states on her website that she would “vigorously protect employees’ civil rights and the right to fair compensation for their labour.” Work toward swift and complete implementation of the paid family leave Cheri worked to pass through the legislature. She further pledges to “strengthen and increase access to apprenticeship programmes.”

Bev Clarno, who served as Oregon’s former secretary of state, former state representative Knute Buehler, of Bend, and the Oregon Farm Bureau have all endorsed Helt.

Stephenson, Christina
Christina Stephenson runs a small business and practises civil rights law. She stated that Oregon should be the best state in the nation to live, work, and operate a business because she was born and raised there.

According to Stephenson, she has worked with BOLI for more than ten years on behalf of both companies and employees.

Former Legislator Desire To Become Oregon's Labour Commissioner
Former Legislator Desire To Become Oregon’s Labour Commissioner

 

She said, “I have the knowledge and background that’ll help me get things done.

Stephenson noted that in her capacity as a civil rights attorney, she assists small businesses in adhering to the same standards and regulations as well as representing workers “who are receiving a rough deal from employers who don’t follow them.” She expressed her desire to keep advocating for employees.

Working families and small businesses are having trouble keeping up with inflation, so the state needs to concentrate on finding ways to support business growth and create jobs that will enable Oregonians to find well-paying employment, get raises, and keep up with inflation, according to Stephenson.

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“I want to confirm that we are funding our apprenticeship programme so that we can staff our schools, construction sites, and hospitals, and I want to confirm that we are upholding the law. Ensure that everyone has access to their rights, and empower our employers by providing them with the resources they need to abide by the law, she said.

In addition, Stephenson said she wants to increase collaborations with other state agencies. There are many locations in Oregon where businesses connect with various authorities, giving the state the chance to inform them about BOLI’s offers, she said.

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