Time for workplace equity

Recently the Oregon Council on Civil Rights released a pay inequality report finding what too many women and families already know to be true: Women are not receiving equal pay for equal work and their economic security is suffering as a result.The report, which was three years in the making, cites research by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) that shows Oregon women working full time, year round, earn an average of 79 cents compared to what men earn.

Oregon’s pay gap is not just an issue for women. With a record number of women in the workforce and four in 10 women serving as the primary or sole breadwinner for their families, it is essential that women bring home the pay they have rightfully earned.As program vice president of AAUW of Oregon, I am proud of our efforts to advocate for legislation that would help to close the gender pay gap and allow workers to earn paid sick days (another barrier to equity identified by the council’s report).

We have been collecting signatures in support of these issues for months, and we look forward to delivering the signatures to the Oregon Legislature at our legislative advocacy day on Feb. 21.The Oregon Legislature commissioned this report from the Council on Civil Rights — now it’s time for them to implement the policy recommendations in order to dismantle barriers to workplace equality and protect the health of Oregon’s families and economy as a whole.

Mardy Stevens

AAUW of Oregon program vice president


OHSU bond is investment in our future

The Oregon Legislature should support the Oregon Health & Science University request for the $200 million bond measure to finance new facilities for the Knight Cancer Challenge. It’s an investment in ourselves.

It’s a small request when you calculate who will benefit from this research. All Oregonians, almost 4 million strong, will be the ultimate beneficiaries. It’s a mere $50 per person investment. This campaign to raise $500 million in matching funds will mean $1 billion toward finding a cure for cancer that affects all Oregonians directly or indirectly. If the Legislature passes this request, it will mean that OHSU will raise $1.2 billion in total.

It is not about just the rich writing checks in support of Penny and Phil Knight’s generous gift of $500 million. We Oregonians should do our part to support this campaign. The $200 million would not take away from any other spending priority. It would not take away money for education, health care or any other needed and necessary state funding priority. It is a bond measure that would be paid back over a long period of time without raising taxes.

It is the right priority for us to invest in cancer research and support OHSU, to make our research university to become a world-class cancer research center. Support this measure — it is for all of us. Long live Oregonians.

Sho Dozono

Southwest Portland

Clean up existing power plants

The world is heating up at an alarming rate and with these increased temperatures come problematic shifts in the delicate balance of our natural world. President Obama’s Climate Action Plan seeks to directly address the environmental challenges that we are facing.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations on carbon pollution from power plants. These proposals are not only important, as power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., but they are also historic as this is the first time we’ve seen federal regulations on carbon pollution. The public comment period runs through March 10, and it is our civic duty to weigh in.

Through cleaning up existing power plants and preventing the creation of new dirty plants, we can work toward a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future. Our future generations are depending on us to act boldly and immediately.

Maria Fish

Northeast Portland

What about the hazards of meat consumption?

Recently, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General’s first report on health hazards of cigarette smoking, his office released a report linking smoking to several new chronic diseases. In addition to the previously known lung and oral cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease, the new diseases include diabetes, erectile dysfunction, cancer of the colon and liver, and stroke.

The parallels between cigarette smoking and meat consumption are uncanny:

n The chronic diseases linked to both activities and the associated costs of medical care and lost productivity are comparable.

n The first government reports warning consumers about health hazards of cigarette smoking and meat consumption were issued in 1964 (by Surgeon General) and in 1977 (by Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs), respectively.

n The first warning labels on cigarette and meat packaging were required in 1966 and 1994, respectively.

n Both activities are discouraged by health advocates and both are declining.

But there is one important difference: The meat industry impacts more state economies with a stronger congressional clout than the tobacco industry. Consequently, a Surgeon General’s report on the hazards of meat consumption is most unlikely.

Our health remains our personal responsibility.

Charlie Richter

Southeast Portland

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