The minimum wage went up in both Oregon and Washington Jan. 1, thanks to voter-approved initiatives that peg automatic increases to the Consumer Price Index. In addition, the federal minimum wage will increase for the first time in a decade, effective July 1.
Oregon’s minimum hourly wage went up 15 cents, from $7.80 to $7.95, making it the fourth-highest minimum wage in the country. Number one? That honor goes to Washington state, whose minimum wage increased from $7.93 to $8.07. California and Massachusetts are tied for second place with a minimum wage of an even $8.
The federal minimum will increase from $5.15 to $5.85 per hour on July 1, thanks to a new law passed by Congress. That law further dictates that the hourly rate will increase to $7.25 in 2009.
The minimum wage wasn’t the only area in which new state and federal laws have affected the employer-employee relationship.
A trained spill response team will manage the spill using appropriate protective clothing, chemical-resistant tools and absorbent materials.
Responding to a chemical spill (English)
Cómo responder a un derrame químico (Espanol)
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At a Dec. 18 meeting at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, OAN Executive Director John Aguirre provided comments on the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI).
Three related organizations -- American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the U.S. Botanic Garden -- are supporting the initiative. Its intent is to establish rating criteria for landscape design, installation and maintenance.
These criteria would parallel the U.S. Green Building Council's existing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating criteria (more commonly known as LEED standards) for “green buildings.” Increasingly, government and commercial contracts stipulate the use of LEED criteria.
As currently drafted, the vegetation criteria for the SSI may prove disadvantageous to Oregon growers. The criteria emphasize the use of native plants, locally grown plants (to minimize energy use through transportation), and use of the smallest size shrub or tree to achieve the desired function in the landscape.
At the meeting, Aguirre lauded the intent of the SSI's goals, but he made clear that the proposed standards on vegetation were problematic and that rigid adherence to the proposed standards may undermine the stated sustainability goals of a landscape site.
For the second year in a row, nursery association executives and staff from Western states met to talk about key issues facing the nursery industry.
The meeting, held in December, included representatives from Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona and Illinois, as well as the American Nursery and Landscape Association and Cornerstone Government Affairs. Topics included immigration reform, the 2008 Transportation Reauthorization Act, and the development of common principles for an environmental agenda.
Great concern was expressed that the nursery industry needs to remain active and vocal on the immigration issue at the federal and state levels. The issue was highlighted on the federal level by a discussion of AgJOBS and the H2A and H2B programs. Meanwhile, it was noted that states are beginning to enact bills detrimental to both employers and workers.
The discussion will continue at the Nursery Landscape Association Executives meeting this April in Portland, Ore.
The 2007 Oregon Legislature passed many new laws that will affect the construction and landscape industry, according to a DirtAlert issued last month by Jordan Schrader, legal counsel for OAN.
The highlights include new contractor licensing requirements that take effect July 1; new rules that clarify when prevailing wages are required on public works projects; a new law to combat the theft of metal from businesses and job sites; and new laws pertaining to land use.
The OAN testified at a December hearing on Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s recent executive order on Oregon Driver’s Licenses.
The new driver’s license restrictions would place potentially serious burdens on a foreign-born agricultural workforce, OAN Director of Government Affairs Jeff Stone stated in a letter.
It’s expected that the Oregon Legislature will codify the order during the February special sesson. The OAN will continue to work with state leaders for sensible and reasonable immigration policies, and will strongly oppose any introduced legislation that hinders our employees’ ability to get to work.
LandscapeOnline.com, a Web site serving the Landscape Development Industry, found a silver lining in cloudy numbers that were issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
According to the government, overall construction was down in October, but spending on public sector projects was up, thereby softening the overall blow for the landscape industry. Such projects include health care construction, up 4.3 percent; public sector commercial construction, up 4.1 percent; public educational facilities construction, up 2.1 percent; and conservation and development project construction, up a whopping 12.1 percent for the month. The net effect was that overall construction was down 0.8 percent for the month.
A separate report by the Commerce Department indicated that single family home sales rose 1.7 percent nationwide in October over the prior month, although they were still down substantially on a year-over-year basis. Sales were up over the previous month in the Northeast, Midwest and South, but down in the West.
The first year of Oregon’s new Pesticide Use Reporting System has concluded, but pesticide users still have until Jan. 31 to report their 2007 usage, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
According to ODA Deputy Director Lisa Hanson, information from individual users is kept confidential, while overall summary data will be presented in a report to be issued in July.
“PURS gives us an annual snapshot of pesticide use and, over several years, will allow us to identify trends in the use of pesticides,” she said.
Those required to report pesticide use must do so by Jan. 31. The reporting requirement applies to anyone using a registered pesticide or pest controlled product in the course of business, or for a government entity, or in a public place.
PURS uses a Web-based reporting system to confidentially gather data. It is located at www.oregon.gov/ODA/PEST. “There is no doubt many people are waiting until these last few weeks,” ODA pesticide use specialist Sunny Jones said. “As we developed the electronic system, we tested the load and expect to be able to handle the last minute crunch.”
Staff members are available from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays to answer questions. The number to call is 503-986-6472. Questions can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Oregon Association of Nurseries wants to hear from you!
Our 2008 Member Survey is your chance to share your thoughts and opinions about the issues affecting you, your business and the nursery industry. Your feedback will help OAN tailor member services to better meet your needs.
All responses will remain confidential, and results will only be presented in aggregate form. The independent market research firm Riley Research Associates will be collecting and analyzing the data.
Members who cannot take the survey on the Web will be able to take a paper copy that can be returned by mail or fax instead. To request one, call the OAN office at 503-682-5089. For questions on how to complete the survey, call John Campbell at Riley Research at 503-222-4179 or e-mail email@example.com.
The Northwest Ag Show returns to the Portland Expo Center Jan. 29-31, and the OAN Seminar Series will be held from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at the nearby Jantzen Beach Red Lion.
Earn one pesticide recertification credit during Bob Linderman's talk on preventing disease during the propagation stage, which follows Jim Owen on propagation media and its components. Other topics also include Roberta Gruber on Legislative Changes Affecting Nursery Employers in 2008 and the ODA on money saving programs in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
A representative from the Oregon Association of Nurseries Safety Committee will give a presentation on workplace safety at the Clackamas Chapter’s next dinner meeting on Jan. 22. The dinner will start at 6 p.m., and it will be held at the Black Point Inn, 602 Seventh Street, Oregon City. For details, call Michael Coleman at 503-932-1084 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2008 Yard, Garden & Patio Show will be from Friday-Sunday, Feb. 15-17, at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., in Portland, Ore.
The show, produced by the Oregon Association of Nurseries, focuses strictly on plants, gardening and outdoor lifestyle products. Organizers say it is the best way to reach the highest number of qualified, educated customers who are ready to buy such products.
The show venue offers several advantages and conveniences, both for those displaying their wares as well as those attending. It is located directly on the MAX light rail line; it has been newly expanded to offer more exhibitor space than ever; and exhibitor parking has been expanded so there is more convention center parking for customers. The show will offer more than 65 hours of free seminars and demonstrations, with something tailored for every skill level from novice to master gardener.
Businesses that have not yet signed up for space at the show still may do so by calling OAN at 503-682-5089. Registration and information are also available at the show Web site, www.ygpshow.com.
Registration has begun for the third annual Le Tour des Plants, a self-directed excursion designed to boost customer traffic to participating retail garden centers throughout Oregon.
Organizers encourage for retailers to sign up now to be included in early promotional efforts, which are set to begin at the 2008 Yard, Garden & Patio Show, Feb. 15-17 in Portland.
The primary goals of the promotion are to build fall garden center sales, excite and educate gardeners about the benefits of autumn planting, and encourage the retail and wholesale segment of the industry to work together to reach these goals.
“Thanks for sponsoring Le Tour de [Plants],” one customer stated in a letter to OAN. “I have many friends and family looking forward to joining me on next year’s tour!”
Those interested in participating in Le Tour des Plants should complete and return the participation form.
For questions, or to learn more, call OAN Marketing Director Ann Murphy at 503-682-5089, or e-mail her at email@example.com.
We welcome your ideas for the semimonthly Member Update. Send them to publications manager Curt Kipp via e-mail, or call him at 503-682-5089.
As part of its 75th anniversary year, the Oregon Association of Nurseries will highlight growers who have provided key leadership and made important contributions to the industry.
The OAN is looking for the people across the Northwest who have been responsible for breeding, selecting, or discovering new plants and introducing technological innovations to the industry. The July issue of Digger magazine will feature these individuals and their contributions. Planning is underway for a garden of Oregon introductions at the 2008 Farwest Show.
To nominate someone worthy of recognition in this esteemed list of industry leaders, call Ann Murphy at 503-682-5089 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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