News

The Skanner News Endorsements: November General Election 2022

October 24, 2022
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The Skanner News

Christina Stephenson, an established workers rights attorney who has also served on the state legislative workgroup on lowering prescription drug prices, is the clear choice to lead the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industry. She is not only armed with a deep understanding of state employment law and the workings of this agency, she has deep insight into the weaknesses of BOLI enforcement. Case in point, she wants to amp up the agency’s wage theft enforcement. She has stated that underpaying employees, failing to pay overtime and miscategorizing employees for the purposes of keeping them at a lower pay rate are all stunningly common practices. But she has also demonstrated how she will come to the position with a support for business owners, in part by increasing the pool of qualified job candidates with expanded job training programs, particularly in industries suffering from critical staff shortages: education and healthcare.

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Mercury General Election 2022 Endorsements: State and Federal

October 20, 2022
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Portland Mercury

Stephenson is both a labor attorney and a business owner of her law firm—two unique positions that give her a critical perspective on the needs of workers (and their bosses) as Oregon reemerges from the economic chaos brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Stephenson is dedicated to strengthening the state’s workforce training program, which has become even more crucial on the heels of the pandemic.

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WW’s General Election 2022 Endorsements: Oregon Statewide Offices

October 19, 2022
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Willamette Week

Call us crazy, but we feel putting a restaurant owner [Helt] in charge of an agency that deals with a lot of complaints from restaurant workers is a mistake (see: fox, henhouse). Helt seems animated by her experience during the pandemic, when one of her three restaurants closed. State policies aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 caused “instability,” she says, and BOLI did nothing to help. Her critique lacked specifics. If elected, she’d create a more predictable environment for business, which in turn would be good for labor, she says.

Her plans seemed vague to us, while Stephenson’s seemed concrete, formed by a decade representing businesses and workers at BOLI. “It’s no secret that I’ve had a to-do list for BOLI for 10 years,” Stephenson says. “I write down things like, ‘Why can’t they send me less paper?’” She contacted the agency about updating its website because information on a statute of limitations was wrong, she says.

As voters, we like that kind of attention to detail. Stephenson’s overarching vision for the agency appeals to us, too. She sees BOLI’s primary role as providing assurance that workers get the kind of fair treatment that secures them a pathway to the middle class. And her track record, which includes championing paid bereavement leave and tighter requirements in the workplace to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination, suggests she’ll get the job done. Stephenson works for us.

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ENDORSEMENT: Christina Stephenson is best for BOLI

October 16, 2022
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Pamplin Media Group

Given the agency's current problems, we think Stephenson offers the best chance for some stability in the office from a BOLI commissioner focused on the challenges at hand, not the elections to come.

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Editorial endorsement November 2022: Elect Christina Stephenson Oregon’s next labor commissioner

October 16, 2022
 – 
The Oregonian

With 47% of the vote last May, employment attorney Christina Stephenson fell just short of the threshold for winning outright the race for Oregon labor commissioner, a nonpartisan position. Voters should finish the job this November and send Stephenson to helm the Bureau of Labor and Industries.

As an attorney who represents workers in employment disputes, Stephenson, 39, is already deeply familiar with the agency and its work of enforcing wage-and-hour laws, anti-discrimination policies and other employment-related statutes. While BOLI also handles housing discrimination complaints and apprenticeships, Stephenson’s expertise in its primary focus will allow for her to step in on Day One.

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Endorsements – State Races

October 13, 2022
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Eugene Weekly

Stephenson, whose civil rights expertise would by itself make her a strong candidate, has been endorsed by five past BOLI commissioners — including outgoing Commissioner Val Hoyle and Republican Jack Roberts. With that backing, we’re confident that Stephenson can foster a culture that holds employers accountable while investing in vocational training and making bureaucracy the last thing business owners need to worry about.

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Stephenson over Helt for Labor Commissioner

October 3, 2022
 – 
Yamhill County's News-Register

We find the non-partisan race for state labor commissioner an easy call.

Christina Stephenson led the field by such a wide margin in the primary she nearly won the post outright.

She collected just under 47% of the vote in a seven-way race, far outdistancing November runoff opponent Cheri Helt, who barely nudged her way past 19%. And she has been endorsed by the last five holders of the office, Democrat and Republican alike.

There’s a reason for that: Stephenson boasts directly relevant experience and a clearly articulated agenda; Helt does not.

Stephenson terms herself “a small business owner, civil rights attorney and working mom,” and her legal work dovetails with the mission of the office. She’s promising to beef up apprenticeship programs, create more school-to-career pathways, expand job training opportunities and protect worker rights.

In the course of the campaign, she’s won support from both business and labor interests, along with the Independent Party of Oregon and a broad array of public officials.

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Elections 2022 | Commissioner of Labor and Industries

September 21, 2022
 – 
Streetroots

The state’s apprenticeship programs, which provide on-the-job training and classroom instruction for jobs like electricians and waterproofers, recently received an $18 million dollar boost from Gov. Kate Brown’s Future Ready Oregon Initiative.

Stephenson says she would continue building on the existing successes of apprenticeship programs and seek to expand the industries in which the state offers apprenticeship programs to include health care and child care. She says that if elected, she hopes voters see her pushing for greater access to family-wage jobs for Oregon workers.

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Editorial endorsements May 2022: Christina Stephenson for labor commissioner

May 1, 2022
 – 
The Oregonian

Oregonians should choose Stephenson as their next labor commissioner.

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Stephenson’s employment law expertise provides a valuable base for overseeing an agency with a growing backlog of uninvestigated complaints. If elected, she would adopt a “strategic enforcement” model for prioritizing the agency’s attention, in which the agency would decide what level of intervention, if any, is necessary depending on the complaint. The idea is to preserve limited resources to go after those employers or industries that are intentionally violating the law.

While Stephenson typically represents workers, she stressed the importance of education, adding that most business owners want to follow the rules. That means helping businesses access the specific information they need to comply with various workplace rules. She supports expanding the agency’s tiny technical assistance division in which BOLI can provide guidance and training to employers and increasing outreach to employers about new laws and requirements. This benefits the agency, as well, she noted, saying Oregonians won’t have to file as many complaints if businesses are empowered with the clear, specific information they need to follow the law.

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Endorsements: State Races Governor, BOLI and Legislature

April 28, 2022
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Eugene Weekly

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for labor commissioner, we are going with civil rights and employment lawyer Christina Stephenson. She’s got the endorsements of the last five Oregon labor commissioners — four Democrats and one Republican — and the overwhelming backing of the Oregon labor movement. She’s politically savvy and strong on workers’ and civil rights.

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WW’s May 2022 Endorsements: Oregon Governor May the best woman win in November.

April 27, 2022
 – 
Willamette Week

In the scrum to succeed Hoyle, Christina Stephenson is the clear choice—a candidate with demonstrated effectiveness in the work BOLI does.

Stephenson, 38, a Portland civil rights lawyer, owns a small law firm and has represented workers seeking relief from sexual harassment, wage theft and discrimination. She’s championed workplace reforms, including the addition of paid bereavement leave to the Oregon Family Leave Act, and helped pass the Workplace Fairness Act in 2019, which tightens employers’ requirements for sexual harassment and discrimination protocol.

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