Oregon Cities

Oregon passes new protections for workers at larger warehouses

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Oregon has passed new protections for warehouse workers, which will force some employers to be transparent about their production standards.

Starting next year, large warehouses will not be allowed to punish employees for failing to meet their quotas, unless those criteria are clearly written out in advance.

“The workers will know what to expect. They will also have time to properly adjust to those expectations,” said Steve Konopa, the legislative director with the Teamsters of Oregon. “Without it, there could be serious accidents, or people may be pressing themselves too hard.”

The rules will apply to individual facilities with more than 100 employees, or companies with over 1000 employees total. A worker will be able to file a state-level complaint if they believe the requirements have been violated.

Some industries are excluded from the change, including drug distributors, farm suppliers, and beverage companies. Konopa claims those sectors don’t have the rapid pace of distribution that causes frequent injury.

Instead, Konopa said this new law is primarily targeted at large grocery chains and Amazon. He said it will protect non-unionized laborers, while bringing Oregon in line with states that’ve already approved similar protections, like Washington and California.

Moving forward

State Sen. James Manning, D-Eugene, was one of the bill’s chief sponsors. He said he’s been hearing from Oregon workers that have been injured on the job, and who feel they have no recourse.

“Sometimes there are no workers that are getting warm up and stretching exercises to go into this work, which requires a lot of physical labor and twists and turns,” said Manning.

The law doesn’t actually provide any new methods for employees to appeal quotas they find unreasonable. But Manning said he hopes employers will now cooperate willingly.

“Perhaps, it may come down to unionization to make sure that people are working safely,” he said.

Manning said in 2024, there are plenty of ways that companies can be more efficient and increase productivity without causing pain to their employees.

“The need for workers is ever-evolving. And at the same time, we’re still dealing with the same practices of yesteryear,” said Manning. “We have to make sure that we are protecting those that’re doing the work.”

Konopa said with the upcoming changes, he hopes warehouse jobs will become more attractive to Oregon’s younger generation. He said there are plenty of good-paying positions that aren’t currently being filled.

“If we don’t work together to continue this onslaught of scrutiny, we’re going to be in big trouble in 20 or 30 years,” he said.


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