Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, November 06, 2015, Page 5, Image 5

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

November 6, 2015
OFB seeks changes to paid sick rules
Capital Press
The Oregon Farm Bureau
fears that growers will be
forced to track the hours of
farmworkers hired by labor
contractors under proposed
paid sick leave rules.
Earlier this year, state leg-
islators passed a law requiring
companies to provide em-
ployees with paid sick leave,
depending on how many work
hours they’d accrued.
The Oregon Bureau of
Labor and Industries is now
crafting regulations to imple-
ment the statute.
Under the agency’s pro-
posed rules, “employees of
a temporary agency, staff-
ing agency, employee leas-
ing company, professional
employer organization or in
another similar employment
arrangement are consid-
ered to be jointly employed
by both the agency and
the client entity contract-
ing for the employee’s ser-
vices” and subject to accrual
record-keeping requirements.
This joint liability is du-
plicative and expensive for
farmers, since the rule is very
unclear about when they must
begin tracking workers as
they move from property to
property, said Jenny Dresler,
director of state public policy
for the Oregon Farm Bureau.
“The farmers doesn’t know
how many hours the worker
has worked before they got to
the farm,” she said.
Under the law, employers
with fewer than 10 employ-
ees must provide sick leave,
but don’t have to compensate
workers for that time.
A troubling aspect of the
proposed rules is that farmers
will have to count workers
hired by a labor contractor as
their own employees when
calculating whether they must
pay for sick leave, Dresler
Counting such temporary
workers twice — as employ-
ees of the farmer and the con-
tractor — goes against legis-
lative intent, she said.
The rules should also clar-
ify that co-owner spouses do
not qualify toward the 10-em-
ployee limit, Dresler said.
The Oregon Farm Bureau
also recommended several
other revisions to the pro-
posed rules to BOLI, which
Hundreds pack gym to
oppose monument proposal
Capital Press
Sean Ellis/Capital Press
A Malheur County resident speaks in opposition to a proposal that would set aside 2.5 million acres of
Malheur County as a national conservation or wilderness area. About 500 people packed the Adrian
High School gymnasium to learn more about the proposal and comment on it.
Area in
Proposed national Ontario
conservation area
and organizations across the
state and country, said Brent
Fenty, executive director of
the Oregon Natural Desert
Association, which is spear-
heading the effort.
“We all care about the
Owyhee and want to keep
it the way it is today, we
just may disagree on how
we do that,” he said. “I sin-
cerely hope the future of the
Owyhee is not oil and gas
Fenty said livestock graz-
ing and mining activities
would be grandfathered into
any monument or wilderness
designation and allowed to
continue where it’s occurring
But opponents doubt-
ed that, and Jordan Valley
rancher Bob Skinner, who
is leading the opposition ef-
fort, received a standing ova-
tion when he told the crowd,
“Don’t believe that stuff. The
proponents of this (proposal)
are professional litigators.
Once this gets to court, all
Ore. McDermitt
20 miles
Alan Kenaga/Capital Press
bets are off.”
Many proposal supporters
said it would result in a lot of
tourism dollars from the na-
tion’s large outdoor industry
but locals weren’t convinced.
Opponents also expressed
doubt that the federal gov-
ernment could care for the
place better than their fami-
lies have for generations.
The meeting, which was
organized by Rep. Cliff
Bentz, R-Ontario, was vid-
eotaped and will be shown
on the internet and presented
to President Barack Obama,
Bentz said.
He said opponents are
concerned the president may
act on the proposal without
being aware of how much lo-
cal opposition there is to it.
Commissioners and judg-
es from fi ve other Eastern
Oregon counties and Owyhee
County, Idaho, were at the
meeting and spoke against
the proposal.
“We will continue to stand
with each other in East-
ern Oregon and protect our
home,” said Grant County
Court Judge Scott Myers.
for the “undue hardship”
provision is the handling of
perishable materials. Oregon
Farm Bureau wants the rules
clarifi ed to include perishable
crops in this defi nition.
“As a farmer, the harvest
period is seen as an ‘all hands
on deck’ period requiring all
employees to be present,”
said Launa Frahm, an Ontar-
io, Ore., farmer, in comments
to BOLI.
“Providing paid sick leave
time in small increments
during this period would be
an undue hardship to my
business, as would fi nding re-
placement employees during
this critical time,” Frahm said.
Walden asks Interior Department
where it stands on Malheur
monument proposal
Capital Press
ADRIAN, Ore. — Ranch-
ers, farmers and other Mal-
heur County residents packed
Adrian High School’s gym-
nasium Oct. 29 to oppose a
proposal that would desig-
nate 2.5 million acres of the
county as a national conser-
vation or wilderness area.
The 500-person crowd
was mostly against the
Owyhee Canyonlands Con-
servation Proposal but in-
cluded a contingent of people
from other parts of the state
who support it.
Loud applause and stand-
ing ovations greeted those
who spoke against the pro-
posal, while mostly silence
followed after people who
support it spoke.
“We live here and pay
taxes here and I’m hoping
what we say has a little more
weight than what somebody
from across the state says,”
said Adrian area farmer Brent
Ranchers and farmers be-
lieve locking up that much
land — it would equal 43
percent of the entire county
— would devastate ranching,
which is the county’s main
agricultural commodity and
brings in about $130 million
in farm-gate receipts annual-
Most ranching operations
in southeastern Oregon are
tied to federal grazing per-
mits and the proposal would
negatively impact that indus-
try, states a Harney County
resolution opposing the pro-
The resolution says the
proposal would also cause a
“loss of direct jobs and jobs
within the supply chain of
the agriculture and cattle in-
The proposal is backed by
the Owyhee Coalition, which
includes thousands of people
is reviewing submitted com-
ments before fi nalizing the
Most employers would
have to provide workers with
sick leave in one-hour incre-
ments unless this arrangement
creates an undue hardship
for the company, in which
it could require workers to
schedule sick leave in four-
hour increments.
During harvest, allowing
pickers to suddenly leave
an hour or two early would
effectively prevent growers
from fi nding replacements,
said Dresler.
Among the factors that
make an employer eligible
ADRIAN, Ore. — Rep.
Greg Walden, R-Ore., has
asked Department of Interior
Secretary Sally Jewell to for-
mally outline where the federal
government stands on a pro-
posal to designate 2.5 million
acres in Malheur County as a
national monument or wilder-
ness area.
The Owyhee Canyonlands
Conservation Proposal, which
would impact about 33 percent
of the county’s total grazing
land, is strongly opposed by the
county’s ranchers and farmers.
Walden hopes to receive a
response to that Oct. 28 request
soon and will keep pushing
until he gets one, said Andrew
Malcolm, Walden’s communi-
cations director.
“We want them to make
clear what their intentions are
on this proposal,” he said.
In his letter to Jewell,
Walden said locking up that
much land, which is equal to
43 percent of the county, is
“understandably concerning to
local communities.”
“These hard-working local
residents deserve to know where
the federal government stands
on the proposal that would af-
fect their daily lives far beyond
anyone else’s,” Walden stated.
He also said the proposal
could harm agriculture, which
“provides the economic base
for Malheur County.”
Agriculture generates $370
million annually in farm gate
receipts in the county, and $134
million of that total comes from
the livestock industry.
Because the U.S. Bureau of
Land Management and other
federal agencies manage 73 per-
cent of the county’s lands, “pub-
lic lands grazing (is) an integral
part of most local family ranch
operations,” Walden stated.
“Greatly restricting use of that
land through a monument des-
ignation could have disastrous
economic impacts to the county
and the surrounding region.”
Walden told Jewell that “it’s
very important that you ... out-
line formally to Malheur Coun-
ty (residents) where the DOI
stands on this proposal....”
Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden
and Jeff Merkley, both Demo-
crats, have also weighed in on
the issue and, in a joint state-
ment, said any proposal needs
to protect ranching families as
well as other existing rights in
the area.
“Malheur County has been
home to ranch families for gen-
erations,” their Oct. 29 letter
states. “We want to ensure that
agriculture, ranching and other
uses of this landscape continue
into Oregon’s future.”
Five other Eastern Oregon
counties also support Malheur
County in its opposition to the
A Harney County Court res-
olution opposing the plan said
it could reduce ranching oper-
ations in Southeastern Oregon,
“as the majority of ranches are
tied to federal grazing.”
The proposal is being spear-
headed by the Oregon Nat-
ural Desert Association and
the group’s executive director,
Brent Fenty, said the plan’s sup-
porters would be happy to work
with Malheur County residents
to help craft a proposal palatable
to both sides.
“We’re certainly ready and
willing to have those conversa-
tions,” he said.
According to Fenty, 100
Oregon businesses have
signed letters urging Wyden
to support the proposal and
more than 10,500 petition sig-
natures favoring the plan have
been collected.
Fenty said proposal propo-
nents support congressional
action to approve the plan but
opponents say they anticipate
supporters will ask President
Barack Obama to use his
powers under the Antiquities
Act to designate the land as a
national monument or wilder-
ness area.
Bureau opposes
joint liability for
farmers and labor