Oregon Labor Union Wants Voters to Limit Grocers to Two Self-Checkout Stations Per Store

The proposed ballot initiative would ask voters to require grocers to employ human checkers, not robots.

Grocery shopping. (Eddie Welker / Flickr)

Oregonians rarely pump their own gas. One of the state's most powerful labor unions wants to make sure they don't bag their own groceries.

A ballot initiative petition headed to the Oregon Attorney General's Office would limit the number of self-checkout stations to two per store.

The Oregon AFL-CIO labor union will be submitting "The Grocery Store Service and Community Protection Act" to the attorney general for approval Thursday. From there, the union would need to gather 112,020 signatures for it to be added to the 2020 ballot.

The Portland Mercury reported on the initiative petition earlier today.

The proposed ballot initiative would ask voters to require grocers to employ human checkers, not robots.

"The widescale use of self-checkout machines in our state's grocery stores is part of a deliberate corporate strategy that relies on automation to reduce labor costs and eliminate jobs," Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain said in a statement.

The authors of the initiative petition cite several reasons automated checkout machines are a detriment to Oregon communities, including contributing to social isolation, eliminating jobs and disproportionately impacting people of color.

"Because people of color are overrepresented in cashier position, which is the lowest paid position in retail businesses, the increasing use of self-service checkouts has a disproportionate negative impact on people of color," states the act.

If voted in, the new regulation would be enforced by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries which would have the authority to fine grocery stores that violate the act. The fine for the first violation would be equal to one full day of pay for the highest paid retail worker.

The initiative petition emerges as Oregon and Southwest Washington grocery workers at Fred Meyer and other large chains have authorized a strike over wages.

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