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WORKERS UNITE!

Poll shows that in Oregon and throughout the nation, workers want more pay and better benefits


Oregon and national voters support increased benefits for workers, according to surveys conducted on behalf of groups advocating such changes.

Results from the pair of surveys were released Wednesday recently during a conference call with the pollsters and Fair Shot for All, an Oregon coalition backing a higher minimum wage, paid sick leave, access to voluntary retirement savings plans and other proposals.

The coalition consists of labor unions and community groups, which are counting on a show of public support to persuade Oregon lawmakers to act even if Congress does not on similar federal policies.

“Voters are frustrated with workplace policies that are out of sync with their needs and the needs of their families,” says Heather Conroy, executive director of Local 503 of the Service Employees International Union.

“It could not be more clear that they want to see needed changes, and this poll is evidence of that. It’s time for Oregon lawmakers to catch up with the people.”

But all three proposals are likely to encounter resistance from business interests to varying degrees.

Two surveys, conducted separately, measured public support on slightly differing issues.

The Oregon survey, conducted Dec. 3-8 by GBA Strategies of Washington, D.C., sampled 600 voters likely to cast ballots in 2016. About 600 more voters were questioned on the north and central coast, Southern Oregon, and central and Eastern Oregon.

The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Oregon voters indicated that they favored increasing the minimum wage, a new law requiring seven days of paid sick leave, and individual retirement plans.

Not asked about in the survey were two other proposals backed by the Fair Shot for All coalition, and put forth by minority groups. One is a package of bills aimed at profiling, a practice using race or ethnicity to help police determine whether people should be stopped on suspicion of crime.

The other would bar employers from asking about criminal history on initial employment forms, but employers still could ask relevant questions of an applicant during an interview or conduct criminal background checks.

“We have to recognize major barriers of injustice that stand in the way,” SEIU’s Conroy says.

National poll

A national poll, conducted Jan. 12-14 by Lake Research Partners of Washington, D.C., sampled by phone 800 voters likely to cast ballots in 2016. Its margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The firm is working with Make It Work, a national group advocating changes in workplace policies at the federal level. David Mermin, a pollster based in the San Francisco Bay Area for Lake Research Partners, says similar work is occurring in states other than Oregon.

“Voters would like to see national policies on child care and equal pay, family and sick leave — and state action on them if there is no action on the national level,” Mermin says.

Of those sampled, 60 percent favor state action, and 26 percent oppose it, if Congress fails to act.

The national survey did not measure support for all the same issues as in the Oregon poll. But it does conclude that 88 percent of those sampled favor ensuring workers seven days of paid sick leave — 74 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of Democrats and 96 percent of independents — and there were majorities of 75 percent or greater for equal pay for women, access to affordable child care, and expanded ways to pay for family care.

When it comes to a federal requirement for paid sick leave, support in the national survey dipped slightly to 79 percent of those sampled — 96 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents, and 61 percent of Republicans.

“Republicans, although they are a little less intense in their support, are still overwhelmingly favorable toward these policies,” Mermin says.

Women favor a requirement for paid sick leave by 88 percent, men by 69 percent.

pwong@PamplinMedia.com

(503) 385-4899

twitter.com/capitolwong

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