Initiative Petition to Limit Self-Checkouts at Oregon Grocery Stores to Two Per Location Takes Step Forward

“Our hope is that by limiting self-checkouts, we can resist automation and protect jobs.”

Mandarins for sale in a Portland grocery. (Aaron Mesh)

Oregon labor unions want to see self-checkouts disappear. Last July, the statewide labor union federation Oregon AFL-CIO filed an initiative petition to limit the number of self-service checkouts in grocery stores to two per location.

It quickly received pushback from the lobby group Oregon Business and Industry, the Mail Tribune first reported.

Related: Oregon's Unions Grew in 2019. But Did They Lose Influence?

On Friday, Jan. 24, the Oregon Supreme Court denied an appeal of the proposed measure by OBI president, Sandra McDonough.

"How people shop has changed tremendously over the last decade, and retailers have evolved with that change to offer options that address what their customers want in a shopping experience," McDonough says. "We don't think it makes sense to put limits on consumer choice."

The petition isn't green-lit for the ballot yet. It still needs 112,020 signatures to make it on the November ballot.

But if passed, the measure, titled the "Grocery Store Service and Community Protection Act," would penalize grocery stores that operate more than two self-service checkouts and give regulatory authority to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry.

Oregon AFL-CIO president Graham Trainor says the petition is an attempt to protect workers.

"The wide-scale use of these machines in our state's grocery stores and retail outlets is part of a deliberate corporate strategy that relies on automation to reduce labor costs and eliminate jobs," Trainor says. "Our hope is that by limiting self-checkouts, we can resist automation and protect jobs."

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