Oregon Working Families Party Platform
To improve the lives of working people and their families by focusing our government on things that make our jobs better, provide security for our families and prosperity for our communities. That includes:
Affordable healthcare for all Oregonians where our health, or lack thereof, is not dependent on individual wealth and subject to private profiteering; we support national single-payer health care consistent with the principles of H.R. 676.
Transformation of the U.S. health care system is required. We support a national, universal, comprehensive, not-for-profit plan along the lines of the “United States National Health Care Act” (H.R. 676) introduced in Congress by Rep. John Conyers.
We oppose the framework established in Oregon’s S.B. 329 because it is rests on a foundation of private insurance and will likely deliver hundreds of thousands of new customers to them while not doing anything to control, much less reduce costs.While working for transformative change, we support specific interim reforms such as regulating the profits/net income of insurance companies and hospitals, requiring accountability before constructing new medical facilities, encouraging integration of medical, dental, and mental health care in preventive care and chronic case management, enhancing interoperability of electronic medical records, eliminating expensive and unneeded procedures and tests by requiring evidence-based care, expanding buying pools and formularies to maximize negotiating leverage against pharmaceutical and medical equipment providers, and expanding access to health care for the uninsured.
Opening doors to opportunity through higher education and technical training that does not result in indebtedness for our citizens.
In 2007, the Oregon Opportunity Grant was expanded to help alleviate some of the unconscionable debt load carried by students at Oregon’s institutions of higher education. The new Opportunity Grant program, sometimes known as Shared Responsibility Model for Tuition Assistance, provides that students in Oregon’s public colleges and universities should be able to cover tuition by working 10 hours per week during the school year and 40 hours in the summer at minimum wage. The State would then cover the rest of the student’s tuition with an "Opportunity Grant."
This plan was enacted into law in the 2007 legislative session, but it is still underfunded – at about 70% of where it needs to be. As a result, the cost sharing for middle income families is higher than the model calls for. The Program currently reaches only the neediest students and families, but it will eventually reach to families with incomes in the $60,000 range. When fully implemented, about 25% of all Oregon college students will qualify.
Affordable housing, a stop to predatory lending practices, investment in new affordable housing development, and protection of existing affordable housing.
Working families who have good credit and can afford good loans should not be steered by brokers and lenders into high-cost products. The foreclosure crisis has been created by predatory lending.
Consumers must be protected from sub-prime loans with abusive terms such as: Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), pre-payment penalties, yield spread premiums and balloon payments. Resources must be provided to HUD -certified counseling programs to prevent working class homeowners from entering into a predatory loan, and education and outreach must be provided so families are aware of available programs.
The OR state legislature made a step in the right direction this session by passing small protections, however, working families need stronger protections like SB 1090 that was introduced last session be Senator Westlund.
The Attorney General and state and local governments must also provide resources to families facing foreclosure and/or who have predatory mortgage loans in order to help them with workout programs and keep more families in their homes. Affordable Housing alternatives and programs need to be provided to families who have lost their home already due to foreclosures, predatory lending and foreclosure scams.
Low income housing:States and cities must invest in housing development that meet all income levels. Low income rental units need to be protected and remain affordable while low-income tenants need to be protected from unjust evictions.
Promotion of green family wage jobs whose legacy leaves a clean, secure, and sustainable environment for our children.
We support climate stabilization that reflects the values of sustainable economic development. For labor, this means a commitment to decent working conditions, including a voice at work, the right to organize and to safe and healthy working conditions, as well as access to prevailing and self-sufficient wages. We promote green jobs that are well-paid, career track, local jobs with benefits that contribute significantly to preserving or enhancing environmental quality.
We want a climate change policy in Oregon that will maintain and grow our existing manufacturing base and provide incentives for the manufacturing sector to become more energy efficient, and protect it against unfair outside competition from companies not subject to emissions regulations. No worker should suffer economic hardship or insecurity as a result of changes required to address the climate crisis. Policies need to include protections for workers in transition like financial assistance in the way of extended unemployment benefits, relocation assistance, and bridges to retirement; and retraining where appropriate.We support the use of registered apprenticeship programs to provide skills training, whether in construction or manufacturing, and will work to support policies and programs that drive investment and create demand for green family wage jobs.
Supporting fair trade, defending our jobs against outsourcing, wage and benefit cuts, and corporate raiding
Since the passage of NAFTA and the WTO "free trade" agreements in 1994, workers in Oregon have seen their jobs exported to low wage countries, first to Mexico, then from Mexico to even poorer countries, in a constant race to the bottom. At the same time trade policies on agriculture have resulted in driving small farmers off their land in countries all over the world, including the US, creating food shortages and desperate immigration to cities, driving wages down ever further.
On June 4, 2008, a landmark piece of fair trade legislation called the TRADE Act was introduced in Congress with over 50 original cosponsors. This legislation would go a long way towards ensuring that trade policy actually benefits working people and strengthens the economy, as well as protecting consumers, the environment, public health and small farmers, both at home and abroad.The Oregon Working Families Party will make support for the TRADE Act key to its support of any candidates, and will work for the passage of the Act.
Right to Organize
The right to organize and reach a first contract free of intimidation, discrimination, and illegal terminations
The Oregon Working Families Party stands for the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively to better their lives and those of their families. This has brought about the modern middle class in the United States, with health benefits, living wages, and safe working conditions. All of these conditions have been eroded by a weak National Labor Relations Board and laws covering union organizing.
The Oregon Working Families Party supports efforts such as the Employee Free Choice Act, which if passed would solve many of the current problems in trying to organize and reach a first contract. It would strengthen penalties for companies that illegally coerce or intimidate employees in an effort to prevent them from forming a union, bring in a neutral third party to settle a contract when a company and a newly certified union cannot agree on a contract after three months, and it would establish majority signup, meaning that if a majority of the employees sign union authorization cards, validated by the NLRB, a company must recognize the union.At the very minimum, American workers should be free to decide whether they want union representation without experiencing intimidation, indoctrination or misinformation. Working families in Oregon and across the nation will reap great benefits from organizing together for better wages, working conditions and health and pension benefits.