2020 has been a difficult and strange year for workers. In January, Oregon’s unemployment rate hit a record low of 3.3%, but many Oregonians were not satisfied with their career options or how well their jobs paid. Then, in April, the unemployment rate hit a record high of 14.9% as our state and nation grappled with the coronavirus pandemic (source). While Oregon has recovered somewhat (unemployment was down to 10.4% in August), there is still much more work to do in order to bring good jobs to our state.
Here are the key features of my jobs plan:
- Rural Broadband Access: Whether we are “staying-at-home” due to a pandemic, or simply want to take advantage of remote work opportunities that until recently were restricted to urban centers, reliable and high-speed internet is a must. We have learned that internet providers can be slow in building the necessary infrastructure for rural communities, requiring the government to sometimes step in strategically and speed things up. My opponent, Mr. Boquist, voted against $5 million in rural internet funding earlier this year. Meanwhile, I promise to stand up for our rural communities and make sure no one loses out on their perfect job only because their internet connection was not good enough.
- Addressing Income Inequality: Income inequality defines this generation. We must build an economy that creates good-paying jobs and that works for everybody. We can do this by raising the minimum wage, providing for earned sick time, by better aligning education and apprenticeship with workforce opportunities, and incentivizing Oregon businesses to invest in and employ the people of District 12. Together we can increase investment in and support for economic opportunities in farming, ranching, and manufacturing.
- Pro-Innovation: Oregon’s entrepreneurs create great new jobs, but contrary to popular belief entrepreneurship needs more than a good idea and some willpower. Fostering a culture of entrepreneurship depends on having a community that supports risk-takers and fosters innovation. In addition to promoting broadband access and addressing income inequality, we can support innovation by creating incentives for Oregon to lead in the 21st century clean energy economy by finally fixing our broken carbon markets.
- Pro-Union: Oregon’s workers know how to fight for themselves, and the job of a state senator is to support them in that collective struggle so that they are treated fairly and have their voices heard in Salem. I am proud to be endorsed by Oregon Education Association, Oregon School Employees Association, American Federation of Teachers – Oregon, Oregon Nurses Association, and Oregon’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees council. In a recent guide published by the Northwest Labor Press, the number of endorsements from labor unions I received was triple that of Mr. Boquist.
Most people believe their work to be an important part of their life, and securing gainful employment is the best way for people to provide for themselves and their families. Restarting our economy and bringing well-paying jobs back to Oregon will require the cooperation of union leaders, business owners, and government officials. As your state senator, I commit to making sure Oregon’s legislature upholds its part of the bargain.