Posted by Tom L on May 19, 1999 at 16:01:58:
In the tuesdays Oregonian Metro section. Farm worker bill sows racism debate"
The Senate votes to allow of firing workers who discuss labor issues, But foes say it targets the rights of field hands.
Senate bill 1115 responds to an Oregon court of appeals ruling that 11 workers at the Oregon Roses nursery in Hillsboro were wrongly fired in 1993
after the complained about their pay. The case is pending before the Oregon Supreme Court. Although SB1115 would not affect the
Oregon Roses outcome, It would overturn the appeals courts reasoning which greatly expanded the legal interpretation of Oregons
farm labor practices. Farm workers historically have been exempted from many collective bargaining rights. For instance
if farm workers form a union, their employer in not legally required to negotiate with the union. However, the court pointed to a seperate
state policy, enacted in 1933, That says workers must be allowed to associate with one another on labor matters, Free from the interference
restraint or coercion of employers. This bill would allow workers to discuss wages and working conditions without fear of retaliation only
if the discussions didn't disrupt work. If workers thought an employer fired them for doing so, They could file a retaliation claim with the
Bureau of Labor and Industries, But they could no longer sue. Farm worker advocates said that would significantly weaken protections because
an employer could claim work was being disrupted any time a worker took five minutes to complain to his supervisor, And they said the labor
bureau dosen't have enough staff to adequately investigate exisiting types of farm worker claims much less new ones, This is an orchestrated move
on the part of certain lawmakers supporting businees interests in Oregon.
Susan Castillo, D-Eugene states, " For far too long we have accepted this unjust treatment of this whole class of workers in our state. "These
are the poorest of the poor workers in our state." It is shameful and really it has to stop. The discussion grew heated after the word RACISM came into play.
Opponents said Senate Bill 1115 headed for a likely veto by Gov, John Kitzhaber if it passes the House. It is racist because it would deprive one group
of workers of their rights. Sen. Avel Gordly, D-Portland said. " Its pains me to have to use that particular word in this chamber "RACISM, But I believe
that we have a responsibility as a Legislature not to enact laws that are Knowling and profoundly RACIST in its impact.
Farm workers have always had to work under the worst of conditions, And have had to live in even worse conditions Thanks to the greedy farm owners.
Each time that we buy produce think of what the people had to go thru to bring this product to your Table.
Post a Followup