Thanks to the tenacity of a small group of Oregon bakers fighting to become members of BCTGM Local 114 (Portland, Ore.), nearly 200,000 Oregon manufacturing workers will benefit from strengthened overtime laws.
In January, Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries changed how it interprets overtime laws as a result of a lawsuit filed on behalf of Portland Specialty Bakery (PSB) workers. The baking company was charged with violating an Oregon state law that requires overtime pay when workers employed in a mill, factory or manufacturing facility work more than 10 hours in a day. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries was forced to issue an immediate statewide correction to the overtime law.
Seeking to overturn the changes, the business industry lobbied the Oregon state legislative session. H.B. 3458, Overtime Protections for Manufacturing Workers, began as a business-backed effort to strike down the worker-friendly legal interpretation of the law requiring overtime pay after 10 hours in factories and mills.
BCTGM Local 114 organizers and Portland Specialty Bakery workers were called upon to testify during the legislative session. As a result of their testimony and the efforts of the Oregon AFL-CIO, BCTGM and national AFL-CIO, the bill was amended and expanded to further protect workers. The revisions of Oregon’s overtime law guarantee 10 hours of rest between shifts of eight hours or more, a new weekly cap of 60 hours, and no mandatory workweeks longer than 55. Unionized workers are allowed to waive some of those provisions in their collective bargaining agreement.
“The law adds several layers of protection for our manufacturing workers,” says BCTGM Local 114 Secretary Treasurer Terry Lansing. “But what I really like is that if an employer sees the law as too restrictive, then the employer can recognize a Union to represent the workers and negotiate a work week that works best for them and the workers. The law is an aid in organizing workers. And organizing the unorganized is worth the effort,” Lansing concludes.
Oregon also passed two pieces of first-in-the-nation labor legislation: cracking down on abusive scheduling practices by employers, and preventing local jurisdictions from passing antiunion “right-to-work” ordinances.
Portland Specialty Baking workers voted in a NLRB union election in February 2016. But thanks to an intense anti-union campaign led by the company, the vote fell short. Workers continue their effort to join BCTGM Local 114.