Oregon business leaders joined US Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez to discuss Paid Leave and Retirement Security


Photo credit:  Alexandra Gilliland

On Wednesday, August 26th Main Street Alliance of Oregon business leaders joined Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, and Governor Kate Brown to welcome US Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez to Portland, Oregon. The visit was part of the Secretary’s “Shared Prosperity for a Stronger America Tour.” 

The morning began at the iconic White Stag building with a roundtable discussion on Oregon’s leadership role on Paid Sick Days and Paid Family Leave. Secretary Perez commended The Main Street Alliance’s work nation-wide bringing together business owners under the shared belief that; investing in their employees, creating supportive work environments, and healthy cultures of trust are the keys to business success.

Franz Spielvogel, owner of Laughing Planet Cafe, discussed his company’s Paid Family Leave policy, allowing employees to earn up to 120 days of paid time off that they can use as needed. Franz said Laughing Planet is “profitable and competitive with Paid Family Leave,” noting that his inclusive policy has resulted in increased employee and customer loyalty. After all, according to Franz, his ‘most important capital is human capital.’

Aubrey Chambers, General Manager at Laughing Planet, attended the roundtable as well and told the group that the company’s new policy has helped create a ‘culture of compassion.’ Aubrey, who is 33 weeks pregnant, plans to put the new policy to use when she welcomes her little one.

The folks at Laughing Planet were joined by fellow Main Street Alliance of Oregon members; Michelle Carver of gDiapers, Renee Spears of Rose City Mortgage, and Shaun Sieren of Biddy McGraws Public House. This industry-diverse group of business owners spoke about the importance of passing policies that support their employees and their communities—policies like the Healthy Families Act and the FAMILY Act.

Following the roundtable, attendees joined Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler, Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum, Representative Tobias Read and advocates at the Portland Alzheimer’s Association for a discussion on Retirement Security. 

The Main Street Alliance of Oregon joined the Save Today, Secure Tomorrow coalition to create a task force to examine a pooled retirement option for all working Oregonians. The roundtable provided Secretary Perez with feedback, suggestions, and insight about state-sponsored retirement plans as the Department of Labor prepares for “Clearing a Path for State-based Retirement Plans.”

The Main Street Alliance of Oregon was proud to work with members and leaders in the Oregon business community to ensure their voices and perspectives were heard by key decision-makers. Secretary Perez reinforced the work being done and said, “as I listen to these testimonials, I can't help but feel pride in the work you've done."