Candidates For Oregon’s Labour Department Find Similar Issues And Various Fixes

In the days leading up to election day, all eyes are on the contest for governor of Oregon. The race to lead the BOLI, or Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries is another statewide contest where a woman is almost certain to win.

Tell us why BOLI matters first.

BOLI is frequently referred to as a mediator between employees and employers. You can contact BOLI for assistance if your employer withholds your paycheck. Likewise, if you’re an employer attempting to comprehend your legal obligations. BOLI also functions as a watchdog for civil rights.

The organization accepts complaints from those who experience discrimination at work, in housing, or at establishments like shops and restaurants; nevertheless, backlogs have hindered BOLI’s ability to address suspected civil rights and pay violations.

The organization oversees the state’s apprenticeship programs, some of which are receiving a historic boost from Gov. Kate Brown’s Future Ready Oregon package. It also has a role in workforce development.

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Who are the candidates?

Christina Stephenson, an employment attorney, had a commanding lead in the May primary, but she came just short of a majority, sending the contest into a general election run-off. Washington County native Stephenson has received the support of numerous past commissioners, labor organizations, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek in addition to current BOLI commissioner Val Hoyle.

In addition to her expertise managing a small firm, Stephenson cites her “tens of thousands of hours” of employment law experience as qualifications for the position.

Cheri Helt, the owner of a restaurant in Bend who received 19% of the vote in May, similarly highlights her background in small business as a qualification for the BOLI position. Republican representative for Oregon’s house for one term, Helt. Additionally, she served on the Bend-La Pine school board for almost ten years.

Helt was seen as a moderate in the legislature, in part because he didn’t leave his seat when Republican lawmakers staged walkouts. However, she has added a more incisive voice to the non-partisan BOLI contest, frequently branding it a “failed agency” and charging Stephenson with “expensive radicalism.”

She includes endorsements from Oregon Business & Industry, Timber Unity, Republican Christine Drazan for governor, and unaffiliated Betsy Johnson.

Candidates For Oregon's Labour Department
Candidates For Oregon’s Labour Department

What is Stephenson’s main concern?

Stephenson primarily defends employees in her capacity as a civil rights lawyer. Her main area of expertise is employment law.

Stephenson has stated during the campaign that training a skilled workforce is her main focus. She claims that industries like healthcare, construction, and high-tech manufacturing are in crisis due to the state’s manpower shortage.

According to Stephenson “I’m going to be laser-focused on helping businesses find the people they need and helping Oregonians get a good paying job.”

Stephenson wants Oregon to broaden its apprenticeship program to additional developing businesses and areas of expertise, such as the medical field. She cites one apprenticeship for a certified nursing assistant as an illustration. Another top aim is ensuring that more K–12 kids are ready to enter apprenticeships with ease following high school.

Helt claims she wants to increase apprenticeship opportunities in industries like healthcare and semiconductor production as well. She claims that if she were commissioner, she would advocate for lowering the proportion of journey-level employees to apprentices in particular programs so that more students might enroll in them. The state apprenticeship council has already committed to debating the issue of reducing the teacher-to-student ratio in a few electrical apprenticeships in December.

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What is Helt’s main concern?

Helt stated that her first priority is “correcting a failed agency,” specifically by clearing the backlog of civil rights allegations the agency has pending investigation.

More than 1,200 civil rights allegations, according to BOLI, are still waiting to be assigned to an intake officer in the Civil Rights Division. Once assigned, the agency currently takes seven months to resolve human rights complaints.

“People who are experiencing racial and sexual discrimination are being lined up and forced to go through a red tape process,” Helt added. And it is simply intolerable.

In the event that she wins, Helt intends to audit BOLI internally right away and wants the Secretary of State of Oregon to do the same.

Although she would approach it differently, Stephenson thinks that clearing up investigative backlogs should be a priority.

Getting someone whose earnings have been stolen their due money could mean the difference between their being able to pay their rent and buy groceries, according to Stephenson. Therefore, it is obviously of utmost importance to us that these instances are resolved as soon as possible.

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