Health care workers are closely following the recent changes made by lawmakers. In August of 2017, Oregon legislature passed two radical bills. One focuses on restricting the abusive labor practices by employers. It prevents the passing of the “right to work” anti-union laws by local authorities.
The lawmakers also passed a bill taxing health care providers. This is to compensate for the Medicaid fund reduction. The industry has expected this bill for some time. The Medicaid fund helps pay for the health plan in Oregon. Providence health care is a prominent private healthcare provider in Oregon. It is looking to enforce layoffs as part of its cost-cutting measures. Several other providers in the healthcare sector are also considering similar measures.
Ailing Health Care Workers
The threatening layoff situation is not the only issue faced by healthcare workers. The workforce in the healthcare industry is plagued by several issues, such as burnout and high student debt load.
This includes everyone from the graduate-level nurses to unlicensed workers. The issues mostly arise from low wages for the employees. A 2016 study by the Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) at Oregon University reveals this discrepancy. The research center helps workers know more about labor law. It helps them in handling grievances and bargaining collectively.
Most Oregonians work hard but still rely on public assistance. Healthcare workers form a big part of those receiving public aid. But, most of the healthcare corporations who employ such workers are highly profitable. The difference in corporate tax rate and low wage worker numbers is a main consideration. This is the reason for the taxes on health care providers.
Aiming for Better Wages
Two years back, Oregon workers in private healthcare decided to join the SEIU Local 49. This decision is turning out to be a beneficial one for the healthcare community. Union workers earn more wages than nonunion workers, according to BLS statistics.
Being included in the union helps workers to air their grievances. They can find a solution to their labor issues. With more unions joining the community, it helps boost the morale of workers. It has so far assisted in increasing wages and improving working conditions.
It is fortunate that the healthcare industry is not affected by the following issues:
- Offshore shipping of work
- Hiring of lower-cost workers
It is a changing industry. Workers are concerned for their jobs as well as the patient care quality. The formation of a stronger union like SEIU has helped a lot.
Another way to help solve your workplace issues is to get legal help. This can help you individually and as a union. The many ways legal aid can help you include the following:
- Increases in wages
- Improved working conditions
- Taking part in layoff decisions by employers
There is an increase in the number of rules placed on employee treatment. Thus, management cannot blindly choose the people they want to lay off. With the right legal help, you can improve your work situation.
Oregon Laws on Unionization and Industrial Relations
Trade and labor unions have been around for many decades. Their purpose is to produce equal bargaining power. Thus, they prevent the domination of an employer over an employee. These unions also represent the employees’ best interests in the employment relationship. These union efforts mean employees enjoy better working conditions and pay. They also get a chance to be treated with respect and dignity in the workplace. Trade unions and industrial relations law are important to both employers and employees.
Employee Unions and Industrial Relations
The Oregon unionization and industrial relations laws affect both employers and employees. Employees are covered by the National Labor Relations Act. They have the right to fight for improvement in their working conditions and wages. As an employee, you have the right to try to form a workers’ union in your workplace. You can also join a workers’ union whether your employer recognizes it or not. You also have the right to be represented fairly by the union.
Recently, the Supreme Court has favored employee choice in labor union memberships. They have passed several new rulings. For example, union member dues may no longer be used for political ends without their consent. Furthermore, unions should not collect fare share dues from non-union employees. This is the case even if those employees benefit from the union.
Right to Work Laws
The right-to-work laws regulate the relationship between employees, unions, and employers. Portland-area attorney Jill Gibson proposed a right-to-work ballot measure. Before Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, most Oregonians ignored it. But, Jill Gibson’s idea seems relevant. Over 50% of the states have right-to-work laws. They are either in their state constitution or statutory code. These laws place checks on unions and employers. They can no longer force employees to join unions. Nor can they force non-union members to pay membership dues to get and keep jobs.
New Developments in Industrial Relations
The legislative session in 2017 was good news for Oregon employers due to the new equal pay law. It prohibits employers from paying people less based on personal factors such as gender, sexual orientation, and religion. Marital status, national origin, race, disability, and age are also included. Once this law takes effect, employers will have certain responsibilities. They must make sure that wage levels for comparable work are equal regardless of the employee’s protected class status. This new law also bars employees from using salary history to determine an employee’s new pay.
Oregon State was the first to pass the Predictive Scheduling Law. It means certain employers must post employee schedules seven days in advance. This allows workers enough time to know what they will be working on in the future. This new law is likely to take effect on July 1, 2018, through the enforcement is likely to start on January 1, 2019.
Beginning from January 1, 2018, employers may need to revise their sick leave policies. This is because Oregon legislature has permitted caps on sick leave. In 2015, it passed a law requiring employers to offer workers up to 40 hours of paid sick leave yearly. Starting January 1, 2018, employers will be allowed to limit the accrual of both unpaid and paid sick time to 40 hours yearly. However, employees can have a maximum sick leave bank of 80 hours only if their previous year’s 40 hours are carried forward to the current year.
Unionization and industrial relations complicate the employer and employee relationship. Understanding your rights will help you navigate it. If you need advice on anything employment-related, call HKM Employment Lawyers at (503) 389-1130. We provide legal advice for your problems and help find a lasting and beneficial solution.