PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Less than three months after Oregon drivers got the OK to start pumping their own gas, a new initiative is pushing to reverse that. If there’s enough support, the decision could be in the hands of the voters in November 2024.
It’s a big move from one of the state’s largest labor unions. UFCW Local 555 filed an initiative petition Wednesday to reinstate a ban on self-serve gas in Oregon, with attendant jobs cited as one of their concerns.
“We have fuel stations within some of our bargaining units and we have seen not necessarily layoffs, but job loss to attrition so people who quit, they just don’t replace them because they don’t necessarily need to, because the new law allows for half of what they had before,” UFCW Local 555 representative Miles Eshaia said.
One of the goals of the petition is to put the decision of who should be pumping gas — attendants or drivers — in the hands of the voters next November.
“It’s for accessibility and safety,” Eshaia said. “You have individuals who have trouble pumping their own gas and can’t find an attendant or they don’t want to get out of their car late at night.”
The ban on self-serve gas was repealed through a bipartisan bill in this year’s legislative session, allowing stations to have both self-serve and fuel attendant options.
State Rep. Charlie Conrad, a Republican serving eastern Lane County, was one of the bill’s sponsors. He says there were too many different statutes depending on where you were located in the state.
“Public policy wise, we had three different policies, three different statutes for pumping your own fuel in Oregon. We had Eastern Oregon, we had the valley, and we had a little carve out on the coast,” Rep. Conrad said. “That’s not efficient, and for people in Oregon and traveling through Oregon, they don’t know the county size, they don’t know the hours, they don’t know those kinds of things. Instead of making public policy that’s complicated, let’s make it simple. Let’s make it easy.”
Lawmakers say this was a necessary move in light of the state’s ongoing labor shortages.
“You’ve got to give it some time to stabilize. Anytime you have major policy changes, there’s going to be an adjustment period,” Conrad said. “So a year from now, let’s look at where we’re at and see if things have changed.”
As for UFCW Local 555, KOIN 6 asked if they believe this could make it on the ballot and pass.
“As far as confident, I don’t know, but we’re in the very beginning stages of it,” Eshaia said.
When it comes to the potential vote to reinstate a self-serve gas ban on the ballot November 2024, the union would need to get more than 117,000 signatures by July 2024.