Organized labor used to be the backbone of the American economy. It still can be, but we have to look toward the future. The rights of workers have been granted through various developments over the last several decades, starting in earnest with the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (which gave us the minimum wage), and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
Labor is the source of real robust value in our economy. Like anything, time and experience change our landscape when it comes to our endeavors. Currently, finance and debt services, the service sector generally, has dominated the growth in our economy. In Oregon, however, manufacturing is still a viable prospect. Most of it is concentrated in processing and packaging, but we also have a reasonable technology sector.
We need to improve our standards in Oregon with regard to responsible bidding when it comes to public projects. I do not think that Oregon statutes have the “enforcing teeth” that they should to guarantee quality contracting using public funds. I will insist that we make it a requirement that responsible bidding be followed as a matter of law, and include all participants in a project. In addition, I will push for a requirement that those bidding on public contracts participate in apprenticeship programs.
I will seek an opportunity for union labor — which is skilled, proficient, and safe — to be given the right of first refusal when it comes to public contracts.
We need to develop renewable energy projects, new infrastructure development, and look forward to developing a modern economy everywhere in Oregon. All along this path we must make sure that unions are supported legally, and favored in our public trust.