Secretary-Treasurer’s Note: OCAA and OTRA and HIPA, oh my!

As I’ve mentioned before, the Oregon Legislature officially convenes each February. In even-numbered years the sessions are what are called “short” sessions and last for no more than 35 days. In odd-numbered years, like 2019, the session is referred to as a “long” session and can last up to 160 days, depending on how many bills are being considered and how long the process takes. 


This year’s “long” session is packed, absolutely full to the brim, with bills that are going to do wonderful things for working people. It’s one of the most exciting sessions I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. As always, our Active Ballot Club (ABC) is going to vocally support a subset of bills that we believe will better our members’ lives. Please be aware, there are lots of other bills on the table that will also improve the lives of 555 members. (Just to name two off the top of my head: lowering the voting age will give a voice to our youngest members, who are considered old enough to work and to pay taxes, but not yet to vote… and the FAMLI Equity Act (paid family leave) will mean the world to our members as they become parents.) Both of these bills have many vocal supporters already fighting for them, though, so we are choosing to focus our energies on three other equally critical bills, ensuring the highest possible success rates on behalf of working families in this year’s session.


OCAA stands for the Oregon Corporate Accountability Act and it provides a way to hold corporations accountable when they break the law. We’ve collectively done such incredible work in protecting ourselves through the letter of the law (First Day Sick Pay and Fair Work Week, just to name two) that we need to now make sure there are sufficient avenues for bringing legal enforcement against corporations who are bad actors and try to get away with not following the law. 


OTRA stands for the Oregon Taxpayer Reimbursement Act, and it takes on corporations who are using state social services as a proxy for paying their employees a living wage. For example, many a corporation “offers” OHP as their medical insurance plan, and that is simply unacceptable. Social safety nets are there to provide protection for those who are experiencing a bonafide hardship: not companies who would like to get away with paying less! Under OTRA, companies will owe the state money back each year for the social services that their employees had to take advantage of so that they corporations) aren’t just getting away with making taxpayers subsidize an unwillingness to pay a fair wage. 


OR-HIPA is different from HIPAA (the medical privacy act we’re all familiar with) but it supplements it by protecting our personal data from being sold to third-party companies interested in profiting off of our personal medical data. Shortly after you get this newspaper we will see our biggest UFCW Local 555 Lobby Day in quite a while, with 100+ members and staff from across the state turning out to lobby legislators on both sides of the aisle on behalf of all of these bills. If you want to become involved, there are two great ways to do so: 1) Make sure you’re an ABC supporter! 2) Contact your rep to offer lobbying support, whether on April 11th or a future date. Let’s make this year a legislative session for the record books!