Our Work

OCJ works to advance the rights of consumers and end unfair and predatory practices that strip wealth and resources from consumers and families.

Consumer injustices are at every turn, from ever-evolving and more sophisticated scams to navigating unfair debt and lending practices to navigating issues of fraud and unlawful business practices. Across the organization, relationships will make the difference as we boldly move to center consumers in policy and legal conversations. These relationships are vital to the work ahead, providing technical experience and legal know-how to complement community power. OCJ is developing programming to further our shared goals and move our mission forward.

Legislative policy and advocacy

We advocate for pro-consumer policies and an equitable marketplace. OCJ works to prevent bad actors from engaging in practices that exploit or harm consumers—by pushing for more robust consumer protection policies and vigorous enforcement of existing laws. 

The 2023 Legislative Session saw important victories that will benefit Oregon families immediately and long term. Consumer wins include laws to protect against toxic chemicals, expand broadband access, enact safeguards for personal data, and take action on Oregon’s housing crisis. We listened, learned, and showed up for our partners and Oregon consumers throughout our first long legislative session. And in the sessions to come, OCJ will continue to push for policies where people come first, strengthening and expanding consumer rights to ensure bad actors are held accountable when they break the law. 

OCJ issued Policy Grants in 2021-22 that funded five organizations. A primary goal of these grants was to help smaller, culturally-specific organizations with existing relationships in their communities build capacity and explore state-level policy and advocacy projects. We allocated Community and Consumer grants to ten organizations in the same year. All fifteen organizations were invited to participate, with the following organizations comprising our inaugural policy cohort: Bienestar, Centro Cultural, Coalition of Communities of Color, Latino Community Association, NAYA, Oregon Health Equity Alliance, PCUN, Pro-Choice Oregon, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, Reimagine Oregon Project / Urban League of Portland, Rogue Action Center, suma, and Unite Oregon. The policy cohort engaged grantees by fostering an active learning community, providing advocacy training and assistance within a collaborative space, and exploring policy solutions for legislative action.

Consumer power

We ensure Oregonians understand and know how to exercise their consumer rights. OCJ partners with community-based organizations and directly engages our communities to provide Oregonians with the information and tools they need to protect themselves

In spring 2023, OCJ engaged with the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center to conduct a statewide consumer survey. The survey results are helping us to better understand consumer protection matters through the lens of a representative sample of Oregonians.

OCJ’s survey findings spotlighted consumer injustices experienced in the past 12 months. Scams/fraud tops the list, and concerns with grocery pricing and telecommunications come in second and third. Oregonians also pointed to solutions in navigating these issues, naming increased access to education and legal services top among their list of desired resources. Other topics include the ability to access to legal representation, concerns around high-interest loans, class action lawsuits, holding companies accountable, and online user agreements.

This brief, pilot survey provides baseline information upon which we can respond and build over time. We will grow our research by implementing a two-part survey in the coming year.

One of OCJ’s early research initiatives comes through a partnership with the University of Oregon. The court order that created OCJ also commits $300,000 annually to the University of Oregon. This amount is to fund research that advances consumer protection throughout the state. Covering a range of consumer-related research areas, a total of $265,936 in grants were awarded earlier this year to twelve projects led by both faculty and graduate students. 

Legal solutions

In early 2024, our legal services will launch, beginning with direct representation. Later in the year, we will also take on impact litigation (e.g., class actions) to affect large-scale change. Our legal work will safeguard consumer rights, expand their access to justice, and fight for legal rulings that fundamentally alter the way businesses operate for the better. OCJ knows that promoting greater responsibility across industries and corporations will create a safer marketplace where every Oregonian can thrive.

OCJ’s community-centered policy and engagement programming pairs synergistically with our legal pursuits, clearing a path to transform Oregon’s consumer landscape to one where we all can experience good health, joy, and economic opportunities. By scaffolding our efforts internally and externally, we are gaining momentum and growing a justice movement where people come first.