BOLI rolls out draft minimum wage rulemaking
The state Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) has released its draft rulemaking (PDF) spelling out implementation of the new, three-tiered minimum wage law that was approved by the Oregon Legislature.
A hearing on these draft rules will be held from 2–4 p.m. next Monday, April 25, at BOLI headquarters (800 NE Oregon St. Room 1B, Portland). Written comments are due no later than 5 p.m. May 23, and may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new law mandates different minimum wages depending on region of the state, with employers in the Portland area having to pay more than those in other regions. The new draft BOLI rules spell out wage and record-keeping requirements that kick in when an employee works in multiple wage regions for longer than an incidental period of time (4 hours per week). It also imposes new record-keeping requirements on all employers regardless of whether the workers cross regional boundaries.
The majority of Oregon nurseries are located near Portland, and several have multiple farms — including possibly some inside the highest wage tier and others outside of it. The proposal has prompted concern that it will force agricultural employers with locations in multiple regions to either pay a higher wage and/or take on a far greater degree of recordkeeping.
"Rulemaking should not go beyond the legislative intent of the law that was passed," OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said. "The Legislature said that employer location would be based on where the worker reports to work, period. The new wage law is going to make things difficult enough for farmers as it is, without these additional hoops to jump through."
SCOTUS begins deliberation on Obama's immigration plan
A short-handed U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday over a challenge to President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration, which would prevent the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants in the country.
According to The New York Times, the justices "seemed sharply divided" on the question of whether a president can defer deportation without congressional authority. Justices Sotomayor and Breyer voiced favorable opinions of such an action, but Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts were skeptical.
The case, United States v. Texas, concerns a program intended to allow more than four million unauthorized immigrants who are the parents of citizens or of lawful permanent residents to apply for a program sparing them from deportation and providing them work permits. The program, announced in November 2014, was called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.
A ruling is due by the end of June. With the court down a justice due to the death this past February of Justice Antonin Scalia, a 4–4 verdict is a distinct possibility. A tie vote would leave in place an appeals court ruling that blocks the plan, but it would set no precedent and therefore would allow a renewed challenge to the plan once the court is back at full strength.
Willamette Chapter Plant Sale at Oregon Ag Fest is this weekend
Help support the next generation of green industry professionals by attending the OAN Willamette Chapter's annual Plant Sale. It takes place this weekend, April 23–24, at the Oregon State Fairgrounds (2330 17th St. N.E., Salem). Held in conjunction with the Oregon Ag Fest, the plant sale raises money for the chapter's educational fund.
Online video highlights importance of farm shop safety
There's lots you can do to lower your risk of workplace injuries. This entertaining, yet educational video, produced by SAIF Corporation in conjunction with the OAN, highlights the seven most common problem areas found around the farm shop and what you can do to improve safety for you and your employees. Topics include the safe use of grinders and compressed air, arc welding, energy control and more. For more safety and health resources, visit the SAIF website.
PEST ALERT: Viburnum leaf beetle
Viburnum leaf beetle is now active in Washington state, according to OSU entomologist Robin Rosetta. The pest has not been detected in Oregon, but now is a good time to monitor for beetle larvae.
Larvae hatch in spring and begin to feed on the new viburnum leaves. Larvae are pale yellow to pale green with black dots and are about ¼-inch long when mature. Larvae crawl down the stems of the bushes to pupate in the soil in June. Adults emerge in July and feed again on the foliage. Adults are bronze-colored beetles about ¼-inch long.
Both the larvae and adults eat holes in leaves, leaving only the leaf veins. High populations can defoliate bushes twice in one year. Multiple years of feeding can kill some bushes.