​​​​​​​Oregon AFL-CIO President Responds to DeVos Confirmation

Statement from Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education:

“Today, the United States Senate confirmed President Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.  DeVos has shown an apathy toward public schools, choosing to instead embrace private, for-profit alternatives. That makes me concerned about the future of public schools in this country, and what could happen here in Oregon.  She hasn’t shown us that she understands what our children need to succeed in school. 

I applaud Oregon’s Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both of whom were outspoken in their opposition to DeVos.  Our Senators heard working Oregonians’ concerns in this important matter and stood with us as concerned parents, teachers, and students spoke out across the state.”

Responding to Federal Attacks on Workers

Statement by Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain on the national “right to work” bill introduced yesterday in the United States Congress, on a leaked Executive Order threatening the rights of millions of workers, and on last week’s immigration Executive Orders:

“Yesterday, legislation was introduced in Congress with the intent to limit the ability of working people to stand together as unions.  Deceptively called a “right to work” bill, this type of legislation drags all workers down, regardless of whether they belong to unions or not.  If passed, this law will mean lower paychecks[i] for workers and increased workplace fatalities[ii].  This legislation is designed to do one thing:  dismantle the tools workers have to form and maintain strong unions by which we negotiate for better wages, benefits and working conditions. Oregon’s union movement is prepared to do everything we can to protect our right to stand together.  

Beyond threats from Congress, working people and our families could face rampant rollbacks of protections in what several credible news outlets are reporting as a leaked Executive Order from President Trump.[iii]  This order, if enacted, would provide a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people on everything from hiring and firing to health benefits and beyond.  If this leaked order comes to pass, it will be a significant and disturbing step backward for our nation. 

The Oregon AFL-CIO is strongly opposed to any Congressional or Presidential action which threatens the rights of working people by any means, including last week’s Executive Orders regarding immigration and refugees.  We stand in support and solidarity with Oregon’s immigrant and refugee communities. Last week’s Executive Orders have only increased fear and divided us as a nation – they do not represent the values that Oregon’s unions stand for.  We are thankful for the actions of Governor Brown who today stood up for immigrants and refugees in Oregon, and by doing so set an example of what leadership looks like.” 

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[i]  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (all industries, all establishments, average annual pay), 2014 data.
[ii] Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2014.
[iii] http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/2/14484190/trump-lgbtq-religious-freedom-executive-order
https://www.thenation.com/article/leaked-draft-of-trumps-religious-freedom-order-reveals-sweeping-plans-to-legalize-discrimination/
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-executive-order-christian-pre-marital-sex-same-sex-marriage-abortion-wrong-religious-a7558691.html

 

Unions Plan Defense of Workers’ Rights

PORTLAND, OR – Unions representing workers in every sector of Oregon’s economy met today in Portland to discuss, strategize, and prepare for the next four years.  Committing to work together, representatives from over 25 unions, took an in-depth look at what President Trump’s administration, Congress, and the Supreme Court will mean for working people and unions in Oregon in the near future. 

The meeting is the beginning of a statewide strategy to educate and mobilize workers to take action and advocate for a fair economy that benefits everyone, not just the wealthiest.  The advocacy includes defending workers’ rights from attacks via Congress, the Supreme Court, and beyond.

“When working people stand together as unions in workplaces, it means we have a voice in how we are treated on the job.  As labor unions, we are standing together to make sure working people have a voice in how we all are treated,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain.  “The nominees for Cabinet of the United States, Congress, and potentially the Supreme Court present clear threats to the rights of working people.  Millions of Americans may lose healthcare, public education systems across the country could decline, and we may face a Labor Secretary whose business practices include refusing to pay managers overtime and avoids negotiation with his workers at all costs.”    

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Oregon AFL-CIO Resolves to Act Against Hate Incidents and Crimes

PORTLAND, OR – Following reports of hate incidents and crimes in the media and a recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center showing Oregon as having the nation's highest per capita rate of hate incidents in the two weeks following the November election, the Oregon AFL-CIO has pledged to take a stand against hate incidents, particularly when it happens in the workplace. 

“The labor movement was built on a simple but powerful idea: when one person is wronged, we are all wronged,” said Tom Chamberlain, President of the Oregon AFL-CIO which represents 300,000 union members and working people.  “We are hearing reports of hate incidents and crimes happening more frequently in the workplace.  The job of our federation and the job of the labor movement is to help working people stand together to protect their rights, both civil and economic.” 

On Friday, December 2nd, the Oregon AFL-CIO’s Executive Board passed a resolution calling for the state federation to pursue a strategy to help workers report hate incidents and crimes and find resources when their civil rights are violated.   As part of the resolution, the Oregon AFL-CIO will launch a telephone hotline in the coming weeks where workers can call to report incidents and be directed to appropriate resources.  Information about the hotline will be available on the state federation’s website, www.oraflcio.org.

“We are going to focus on providing tools for workers to report these incidents and begin training union representatives to provide help directly to union members in their workplaces,” said Chamberlain.  “It falls upon those of us entrusted to stand up for working people to do everything we can to protect all of our rights.”

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Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain Responds to Election Results

PORTLAND, OR - Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain has released the following statement in response to the results of the 2016 General Election:

“As the final results from elections in Oregon and around the country are counted, one thing is certain:  Union members and working people have stepped up to the plate in a tremendous way over the past two months.  Our efforts in mobilizing union members to vote for candidates and issues who support us cannot be ignored.  Our volunteers spoke with thousands of voters on the doorstep, on the phone, and at worksites.  Union member volunteers in cities across Oregon worked hard to contact voters over the past two months, and their efforts led to important victories for our endorsed statewide and legislative candidates.”   

“The election of Governor Kate Brown will push our state forward for working people.  Governor Brown has a long history of advocacy and I know she will continue to stand up for workers and our unions in the coming years.  I’m disappointed that Brad Avakian will not move on to Secretary of State, and know that he will continue to be a strong voice for workers as Labor Commissioner.  Working people will continue to make sure all our voices are heard in elections – not just large corporations.”

“While Measure 97 was defeated, we changed the debate about the massive gap between where we are and what we need to fund education, health care and senior services in Oregon. To close that gap, we can no longer afford to be 50th in the nation in corporate taxes. 

Our efforts on behalf of union endorsed candidates in our state legislature have shown us that in communities across Oregon working people are eager to support leaders who stand up for our issues and our priorities.   We look forward to a productive 2017 legislative session and more opportunities to advance an agenda designed to give all Oregonians a fair shot at prosperity.” 

“I’m grateful for all the volunteers across Oregon who made our successes in this election possible.  We could not have done this without union members taking action together to fight for what we believe in.”