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Oregon Business Academy Holds Inaugural Business Week

Many new hires aren’t prepared for work. As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, remote learning during the pandemic left many students short of basic skills, including the ability to work with others.

Such things almost surely won’t be said of the 100 high school students who participated in the Oregon Business Academy’s inaugural Business Week this summer.

The students gathered at Oregon State University from July 16 to 22 to learn not only how businesses work, but also how those who run them work together. They learned how to write resumes, participate in job interviews and, thanks to a networking and etiquette dinner, even how to navigate a conversation without straying into political controversy.

Students generally do not graduate from high school with an adequate understanding of the basic principles of business. The Oregon Business Academy fills that knowledge gap while helping students in grades 9-12 develop skills they’ll need whatever they decide to do.

Go here to read more about the academy and learn what businesses can do to support its work.


NLRB Decision Could Affect Many Workplace Policies

The National Labor Relations Board on Aug. 2 overturned a 2017 decision affording flexibility for employee policies. Under the new standard, experts say, employers will have to think carefully about how to defend certain types of corporate policies, including those involving social media and appropriate workplace conduct.

The standard involves employees’ Section 7 rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This section gives employees the right to form, join or assist labor unions, to bargain collectively and engage in similar activities. The NLRB also broadly interprets these rights as relating to employees’ rights to express themselves about a wide variety of issues and to communicate with their coworkers. The current NLRB general counsel has seemed to indicate that any sort of expression of political or social views may fall under section 7 rights. As a result of the NLRB’s Aug. 2 ruling, a workplace rule will be presumed unlawful under the NLRA if an employee could reasonably interpret it to chill their exercise of their Section 7 rights.

The NLRB’s decision involves Stericycle, a waste management company that had adopted several employee policies. Among other things, these policies limited the use of personal electronic devices to breaks; banned employees from taking pictures and other recordings at worksites without a supervisor’s permission; and prohibited activity that would reflect badly upon the company or its management.

After an administrative law judge had found some of these rules lawful and others unlawful under the pre-existing standard, the NLRB returned the case for reconsideration under a new standard. Under that standard, the possibility that an employee might reasonably interpret a rule to have a coercive meaning would produce a presumptive finding that it violated the NLRA. To counter such a finding, an employer would have to prove that the rule advanced a legitimate and substantial business interest and that the employer could not advance that interest with a more narrowly tailored rule, say experts. The employer’s intent in adopting rules is not relevant.

Examples of policies that should be reviewed in light of this decision, according to experts, include those that promote civility, prohibit insubordination, restrict social media use and prohibit the disparagement of a company’s management or products.

To learn more, read the NLRB’s press release here; analyses by the Society for Human Resources Management here and here; and a response by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here.


Paid Leave Oregon, BOLI Release Concurrency FAQ

Paid Leave Oregon and the Bureau of Labor and Industries have released a fact sheet that addresses common questions about concurrent leave, which refers to leave taken at the same time under Paid Leave Oregon and the Oregon Family Leave Act.

The document provides answers to nine questions and hypothetical scenarios, including the following:

What does the employer need to tell the employee about Paid Leave Oregon?
Must the employee take OFLA and paid leave under PLO at the same time if both programs cover the purpose of the leave?
How will the employer know the employee applied for leave under Paid Leave Oregon?
Is all leave taken under OFLA subject to the 16-18-week time limit if it is taken during the Paid Leave Oregon benefit year?

For the answers to these and other questions, click the button below.

Updates, events and other information about the program can be found on Paid Leave Oregon’s news and events web page here and on its page for employers here. Additional information, including webinar recordings, can be found on OBI’s Paid Leave Oregon resources page here as well.

Read the concurrency FAQ here.


Notable News

Payroll Tax: Salem City Council on Aug. 28 will consider a proposal by Councilor Julie Hoy to repeal the city’s payroll tax, the Salem Reporter reports. The proposal follows a successful effort led by OBI to force a public vote on the recently adopted tax. It is not clear, however, whether repealing the tax would prevent it from appearing on the November ballot.

Portland Task Force: Gov. Tina Kotek on Aug. 22 released a list of the dozens of people who will serve on the Portland Central City Task Force, which aims to revitalize the city. Meanwhile, The Oregonian reports, Mayor Ted Wheeler’s request for city employers to compel employees to work at the office at least half-time has encountered resistance.

Measure 110: According to a recent poll, 56% of Oregonians support a total repeal of Measure 110, which decriminalized small amounts of street drugs, The Oregonian reports. However, 56% of survey participants living in the First Congressional District, which includes much of Portland, want to leave Measure 110 as it is.

Campaign Finance: Our Oregon, a political group financed by public employee unions, has filed a pair of ballot measure proposals that would undermine a competing effort to cap contributions, The Oregonian reports.

Holvey Recall: A union-led effort to recall Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, has gathered enough signatures to hold an election Oct. 3, according to Willamette Week. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 turned on Holvey after the failure of a bill this year aimed at organizing cannabis workers.

Voter Registration: A recently enacted state law that would register Oregon Health Plan to vote automatically has encountered an obstacle, according to the Salem Reporter. For the program to function, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must agree to let the Oregon Health Plan (the state’s Medicaid program) share data with the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office. Colorado, which passed a similar law, has sought similar permission without success since 2019.

Drug Audit: On Aug. 21, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office released an audit of the state’s spending on prescription drugs. The audit focused on the role pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in Oregon’s Medicaid program, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports, and ultimately “couldn’t conclude whether PBMs in Oregon were further driving up prescription drug costs, or saving the state money.”


Member Profile: QB Fabrication & Welding

QB Fabrication & Welding isn’t a household name. In fact, the company doesn’t even have a marketing department. But its work is hiding in plain view throughout the Pacific Northwest, where it helps power everything from toasters to Teslas.

The family owned business fabricates electrical transmission infrastructure, including substation components and towers that can support up to 500 kV of capacity, which is enough electricity to power more than 1 million homes. The company can produce more than 500,000 pounds of fabricated steel monthly at its 5-acre facility in Clackamas. Even so, QB Fabrication & Welding would like to expand its footprint and its workforce to support a long list of projects related to the expansion of the region’s transmission network.

Go here to learn more about QB Fabrication and Welding.


Oregon OSHA Permanently Repeals COVID Rules

Oregon OSHA announced Aug. 16 that it has permanently repealed all of its COVID-19 rules, which had been temporarily suspended.

The decision to repeal the rules follows a July 25 public hearing during which the agency received no testimony and a public comment period during which the agency received no input. The comment period ended Aug. 4.

Assuming that some employees might want to continue to wear masks, the agency preserved that option by amending rules related to work clothing. However, employers are required to provide masks for employees only if they require their use. In such cases, masks must be supplied at no cost to employees.

Though the rules preserve the ability of employees to wear masks voluntarily, employers are not required to allow employees to use respirators should they request to use one instead of a mask.

To read the rules and related documentation, go here.


Registration Open for Manufacuring Roadshow

Registration is now open for OBI’s second annual Manufacturing and Innovation Roadshow, which will visit facilities in eastern Oregon, the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River, central Oregon and the northern Willamette Valley in early October.

The itinerary, which will be expanded in the coming weeks, includes the following stops:

Go here for the latest tour updates and go here to register for the tour.


Nominating for Manufacture of the Year Still Open

Time is running short to submit nominations for the inaugural Manufacturer of the Year Awards.

Until the end of August, nominations will be accepted in three categories: innovation, environmental sustainability, and workforce and community impact. Nominations may be submitted by the company itself or a third party. Nominees need not be OBI members, but they must be based in Oregon or have significant operations here. Learn more about the contest and nominate a manufacturer by following the link below.

Meanwhile, nominations closed Aug. 15 for the Coolest Thing Made in Oregon contest. OBI and partner Here is Oregon received hundreds of nominations, and a panel consisting of business and media leaders is now working to pick the 16 finalists. These products will be announced in mid-September, and several rounds of public voting will follow. A winner will be announced Oct. 25 at OBI’s Vision Oregon Event. Learn more about the contest here.

Go here to nominate a manufacturer.