Advocacy Proves its Worth as Oregon Balances Difficult Health and Economic Decisions

NWCUA convenes credit unions for a briefing on the state’s reopening policies.

6/16/2020

Seventy-five Oregon credit union leaders joined the Northwest Credit Union Association June 11 for a briefing on how state government and local communities are fairing during the state’s phased re-opening.

Throughout the pandemic, NWCUA has been in close contact with Governor Kate Brown and her team and was instrumental in ensuring credit unions were declared “essential” business that could continue providing vital services to their two million members.

“Thank you to each of our credit unions in all corners of Oregon for your tireless service to your members at all times, but especially over the course of the last three months as you’ve all stepped up to provide a tremendous amount of support, relief, and stability for your members and communities during a time of great need,” said Jennifer Wagner, NWCUA’s EVP and Chief Advocacy Officer.

Oregon Business & Industry has also played a key role in advising policy makers who’re making difficult decisions to protect both the health of Oregonians and the economy.

“We worked hard to develop an essential business list and kept in touch with the Governor. We shared that many businesses could safety remain open. They listened.”
— Sandra McDonough, President and CEO, Oregon Business & Industry

McDonough provided a detailed report on the economic impacts of COVID-19, noting the more than 400,000 unemployment claims filed since the onset, and $4.8 billion in lost business revenue.

“Every single industry in the state has been impacted at a significant level,” McDonough said. OBI remains engaged with policy makers to encourage decisions that bring back as many lost jobs as possible.

An in-depth look at Oregon’s reopening policy was shared by Leah Horner, Jobs & Economy Policy Advisor for Governor Brown. She shared that the state was successful in its goals of expanding hospital capacity and building a strong supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“As we reopen, we will see an uptick in cases, but we know how to deal with that,” Horner said.

Twenty-nine of Oregon’s 36 counties are in the second, less restrictive phase of reopening and six are in the first phase, yet the situation remains very fluid. Just as Multnomah County – the state’s most populated – was filing its Phase One application, the Governor put a one-week pause on all applications following a “concerning” number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Val Hoyle, Oregon’s Labor Commissioner, discussed her agency’s role as a liaison between businesses and labor. During the pandemic the Commission has protected workers again discrimination and guided an emergency rule that expanded family leave rights for Oregonians coping with COVID-19. Hoyle also recognized credit unions for their service during these challenging times.

“You know your communities,” Hoyle said. “You are the place people go to get help.”

While the state government adjusts polices as needed, credit unions as essential businesses are still providing their members with financial lifelines, such as forgivable small business loans, no interest personal loans, and options to delay making loan payments.

“State leaders have extremely difficult decisions to make,” said Pam Leavitt, NWCUA’s Policy Advisor for Oregon Sate Advocacy. “That’s why it’s important for us as the Credit Union Movement, to make sure we remain engaged with policy makers, so they understand that credit unions are essential to the economy. We deeply appreciate our member credit unions for their steadfast advocacy and for the difference they are making for two million consumers across the state.”

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