Murmurs: Amazon Settles Oregon Wage Theft Lawsuit

In other news: Portland mayor eyes large camp locations.

AMAZON SETTLES OREGON WAGE THEFT LAWSUIT: Even as it prepares to lay off 10,000 corporate employees, Amazon is spending $18 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by its Oregon employees, which alleges the e-commerce giant stiffed warehouse workers on their paychecks. It’s the “largest wage-and-hour class settlement in Oregon history,” according to a Monday press release from the plaintiffs’ attorney, Jon Egan. Workers were subjected to “corrective action” if they clocked in late—but received no additional pay if they clocked in less than five minutes early. As a result of the rounding, workers were deprived of pay for more than seven years at four Oregon warehouses, amounting to more than 40,000 hours of unpaid labor, according to legal documents filed in the suit. The complaint also alleges the company failed to fully pay employees at all of its Oregon warehouses when they took breaks shorter than the required 30 minutes. A U.S. District Court judge approved the settlement of the 2019 lawsuit in September, but notices to affected employees weren’t sent until this weekend, Egan tells WW. Over 10,000 employees will receive nearly $100 each in back pay, and those who file claims can receive an additional $1,200 in penalties. An attorney for Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

PORTLAND MAYOR EYES LARGE CAMP LOCATIONS: The Portland City Council will vote Nov. 17 on Mayor Ted Wheeler’s request for $27 million in preliminary funding from the fall budget adjustment to kick-start the six massive encampments he aims to build so the city can ban sidewalk camping. His request is likely to get three votes on the council, sources tell WW, but how the dollars are allocated could shift between now and the vote. That’s because City Commissioner Dan Ryan has requested that $6 million of the $27 million be allocated to rent relief. Ryan’s request comes amid Multnomah County leaders weighing whether to provide an additional $14 million in rent relief to prevent a wave of nonpayment evictions through the end of the year. Meanwhile, the mayor’s office is speaking to seven property owners about hosting the controversial 250-capacity sanctioned camps on their land.

CLACKAMAS COMMISSION REDDENS: Although Democrats generally exceeded preelection expectations locally and nationally last week, one place Republicans triumphed—albeit in nonpartisan races—was on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners. Incumbent Paul Savas, a moderate Republican, trounced challenger Libra Forde, a Black nonprofit executive. More surprising: Ben West, a Republican nurse from Wilsonville, knocked off incumbent Commissioner Sonya Fischer, a Democratic lawyer, who, with strong backing from unions and other Democratic groups, outraised West. The winners join Chair Tootie Smith and Commissioner Mark Shull to give Republicans a 4-1 advantage on the board in Oregon’s third-largest county, where Democrats hold a 6-point voter registration advantage (the lone Democrat is Commissioner Martha Schrader).”I thought it was very curious,” says Clackamas County Democratic Party chair Jan Lee. “We certainly still vote like a purple county.”

PROVIDENCE AGAIN POSTS LARGE LOSSES: The state’s largest hospital system, Providence Health & Services, which operates eight hospitals and more than 90 clinics in Oregon, announced another large quarterly operating loss last week, blaming inflation, staffing shortages, slow reimbursement, and continued supply chain disruptions for a $164 million third-quarter loss. That brings Providence’s total operating losses through the first three quarters of 2022 to $1.1 billion. The nonprofit reported that its large reserve base—effectively its savings from retained earnings—has also taken a beating from weak financial markets. It’s down $1.4 billion for the year but still holds assets worth $9.1 billion. “While we still have a journey ahead of us, we are moving in the right direction and are beginning to see signs of renewal this quarter,” Providence CEO Dr. Rod Hochman said in a statement.

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