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.”


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.”

Statement from Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain on Bud Pierce’s Indecision about Trump

Portland, OR -  Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain released the following statement today in response to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bud Pierce’s indecision about the Presidential election:

“It sounded like another Republican heeded Governor Brown's call to disavow Donald Trump today. But after Bud Pierce said this morning to OPB that he won't support Trump, now he is distributing a statement indicating he is still not sure whether he will vote for Trump, or at all. After a day of back and forth, it's even less clear who Bud Pierce supports for President of the United States of America. What we do know is that Oregon doesn't have time for someone who can't make up their mind.”



Unions Host Labor Day Events Across Oregon

Portland, OR – On Monday, September 5, unions will host events in cities across Oregon to celebrate Labor Day and to kick off the election season.   Events will be hosted in Portland, Salem, Eugene/Springfield, Bend, Ashland and North Bend/Coos Bay.  To see a list of events, please visit the Oregon AFL-CIO’s website.

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain has released the following statement about what Labor Day means for union members in Oregon:

“On Labor Day, we recognize the millions of people in Oregon who go to work every day to take care of our families. We work to put food on the table, to put ourselves through school, to pay for the ballet lessons and the baseball league. Our hard work allows our economy to thrive and our work is what makes Oregon great.

In the upcoming election, working people and our unions are driving the debate about the issues that matter to us. In November, we have to come together to elect leaders who share our values and vision, and who put working families first. Together we can create an economy that works for everyone.

This fall we are voting to elect candidates who believe we deserve higher wages, better benefits, a reasonable work schedule and paid time off when we get sick. We are voting because trade deals should create good-paying jobs here in Oregon. We are voting to ensure working people have the protections they need on the job; so that we can create safer and better workplaces. We have an opportunity to make progress for all families and communities. This November, we are voting for a better life.”

Oregon’s Unions Applaud News of No TPP in Lame Duck Session

PORTLAND, OR. – Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain released the flowing statement after hearing news that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not bring forward the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade agreement in the post-election lame duck session:

“Oregon’s unions have not typically agreed with the decisions made by Senator McConnell, but the choice not to hold a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership is absolutely the right call.  The TPP is a threat to working people in Oregon, and a threat to working communities across our entire country.  We can’t afford another NAFTA-style free-trade deal which sends more Oregon jobs overseas for the sake of corporate profits. What we need are trade policies designed to give working people opportunities instead of shuttered factories, unemployment, and a global race to the bottom.” 

Statement in Response to Governor Kate Brown’s Support of TPP

Portland, OR - In response to Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain has issued the following statement:

“I’m disappointed by Governor Brown’s support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Oregon’s unions continue to stand united in our opposition to the TPP, because it’s a bad deal for working people in our state. We are still reeling from the impact of previous free trade agreements.  Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement over 50,000 Oregon workers lost their jobs, and those lost jobs are certified by the Department of Labor as the direct result of free trade agreements [i]. 

Those 50,000 jobs aren’t abstract numbers, they’re pillars of working communities across Oregon, and many were the kind of job you could support a family on.  50,000 jobs lost is what happens when paper mills close and companies take their operations elsewhere.  We need trade policies to put working people ahead and grow our economy.  I don’t see that happening under the TPP, and a recent report from the International Trade Commission proves the TPP has a lot of room for improvement, especially with a dismal .15% of projected GDP growth over 15 years, as the ITC report indicates[ii].”


[i] United States Department of Labor Trade Act Petitions
[ii] https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4607.pdf


Oregonians Applaud July 1st Minimum Wage Increase

Over 100,000 Oregonians will be impacted on Friday

(PORTLAND, OR) On Friday, July 1, over 100,000 Oregonians earning minimum wage will receive a raise.  Within Portland’s urban growth boundary and in urban counties, wages will increase from $9.25 per hour to $9.75.  In nonurban counties, the minimum wage will increase from $9.25 to $9.50.  From minimum wage earners to small business owners, Oregonians are applauding the first increase as a strong step forward for our state.

Small business owner Shaun Sieren of the O'Neil Public House in Northeast Portland sees the increase as a way to give local economies a boost:

“The minimum wage increase on July 1t is a good thing, for my business, our customers, and the entire community,” said Sieren. “When folks who earn minimum wage get a raise, it helps everyone.  It puts more money in the pockets of working people, and that money gets spent at local businesses and on local goods and services. It’s simple: raising wages makes our local economy stronger.”

For Kasil Kapriel, who earns minimum wage working at Portland International Airport, the increase on July 1t is a step forward, and a promise of hope for something more:

“The minimum wage increase will make a difference for me and my family,” said Kapriel.  “It is a great step, but only the first step.  There is more we can do to make sure working families have a shot at a better life.  I look forward to continuing to stand with my fellow airport workers, and people across our community in standing up for good jobs, with a living wage, and affordable care. We’ll continue to do whatever it takes for all working families to have a shot at a better life.” 

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain explains how raising the minimum wage is just one part of a solution to a crisis facing working people in Oregon:

“In the past six years, the number of people moving to Oregon has increased by 10% while much of our state’s job growth is happening in the low wage sectors of the economy.  Combine that trend with housing costs skyrocketing and we have a problem,” said Chamberlain.  “Solving that problem requires a multifaceted approach, and raising wages is central to that approach.  We can’t expect Oregon to grow, to prosper, unless working people can afford the basics like housing, groceries, childcare, and transportation.  The raise on July 1 is the first step in the right direction for working people in Oregon.”

Business owners and workers who are interested in learning about their minimum wage region and the schedule of raises can visit Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries website to see information about the increase.  Raising the minimum wage was part of the Fair Shot For All Coalition's 2015-16 Legislative Agenda.

National AFL-CIO Votes to Endorse Hillary Clinton for President

Oregon AFL-CIO Leaders React to National Presidential Endorsement  

 (PORTLAND, OR) – The General Board of the 12.5 million member National AFL-CIO voted today to endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. The endorsement reflects a comprehensive and democratic process initiated a year ago to capture the interests of the people represented by the federation.  Leaders of the Oregon AFL-CIO are reacting to this important endorsement by the National AFL-CIO: 

“Hillary Clinton has proven herself to be a leader who shares the values of working people and our unions,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain. “She has shown a steadfast commitment to the issues that matter to working people across the country. Donald Trump poses very dire consequences for workers, for unions, and for our country if he’s elected.  The labor movement, in Oregon and nationwide, is united against him. That’s why we are ready to roll up our sleeves and work hard to improve the lives of all working people by fighting to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States.”

Oregon AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Barbara Byrd said, “This election is a choice between two forces: a strong voice for us, and a charlatan who absolutely does not value working people. We know Hillary Clinton has the right temperament, the experience, and the values to unite workers across the country in our mission to increase incomes at home and extinguish threats abroad.”


National AFL-CIO Presidential endorsements are determined by a two-thirds vote of the General Board which consists of all members of the Executive Council and the principal officer of each affiliated, national or international union, the principal officer of each trade and industrial department, a representative of each national constituency organization, allied retiree organizations, and young worker organizations recognized by the Federation, a representative of each chartered national community affiliate, and regional representatives of the state, area, and local central bodies selected by the Executive Council pursuant to a system promulgated by the Council.


Statement from Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain on New Minimum Wage Rules


 (PORTLAND, OR)  Following the Bureau of Labor and Industries’ (BOLI)  announcement today regarding new rules for Oregon’s minimum wage, Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain has released the following statement:

 “The Oregon AFL-CIO is pleased that the minimum wage rules presented by BOLI recognize that employees should generally be paid a wage according to the region in which work is being performed.  However, we believe the rules could be both stronger and more protective for working people.  Under the new rules, an employee must work more than 50% of their time during a pay period in a different region before a different wage is required; a pay period can be an entire month, which means some workers could spend two weeks in a higher wage region without the higher wage being required. 

 We are generally satisfied with the outcome of rulemaking by BOLI and look forward to seeing thousands of minimum wage earners in Oregon get their first increase on July 1st.”

Oregon’s CEOs Paid 327 Times Average Worker; Outsourcing Results in Even Higher Inequality

Oregon’s CEOs Paid 327 Times Average Worker; Outsourcing Results in Even Higher Inequality

2016 Executive PayWatch highlights corporate pay inequality



(Portland, OR) – CEO pay for major companies in Oregon continues to soar as income inequality and outsourcing of good-paying American jobs increases. Outsourcing has become a hot presidential election topic with candidates calling out corporations who say they need to save money by sending jobs overseas. Meanwhile, according to the new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch, the average Oregon CEO made over $13 million per year in 2015 – 327 times more money than the average worker.


The Executive PayWatch website, the most comprehensive searchable online database tracking CEO pay, showed that in 2015, the average production and nonsupervisory Oregon worker earned approximately $41,601 per year, a wage that when adjusted for inflation, has remained stagnant for 50 years.


“These numbers demonstrate the unacceptable levels of income inequality that exist here in Oregon and around the country,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain.  “This is a disgrace and we must stop Wall Street CEOs from continuing to profit on the backs of working people. We need to focus on raising wages for all, creating and keeping good jobs here and reversing these unfair and unjust trends.”



New Report Shows TPP Is Disastrous for Working People in Oregon and Across the County

New Report Shows TPP is Disastrous for Working People in Oregon and Across the County

National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain react to the International Trade Commission’s report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and what the report means for working people in Oregon and across the county:

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

This ITC report is so damaging that any reasonable observer would have to wonder why the Administration or Congress would spend even one more day trying to turn this disastrous proposal into a reality. Even though it's based on unrealistic assumptions, the report could not even produce a positive result for U.S. manufacturing and U.S. workers. One of many shockers is just how meager the purported benefits of the TPP are. A mere .15% of GDP growth over 15 years is laughably small—especially in comparison to what we’re being asked to give up in exchange for locking in a bonanza of rights and privileges for global corporations. Even though the report fails to account for currency manipulation, wage suppression and the negative impacts of uninspected food imports and higher drug costs, the study still projects the TPP will cost manufacturing jobs and exacerbate our trade deficit.  

Statement by Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain:

The latest report from the International Trade Commission reinforces the Oregon labor movement’s firm position in opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership: This free trade agreement is going to cost working people in Oregon dearly. We’ve been here before. Since the passage of the North America Free Trade Agreement over 50,000 Oregon workers were certified by the Department of Labor as having lost their jobs due to trade.  This new report from the ITC shows we are headed down the exact same road as NAFTA, and that is not something our state and working people can afford to have happen – especially with a dismal .15% of GDP growth over 15 years.  As an Oregonian, I encourage our members of Congress to look at this report closely and think about what impact the TPP will have on working people in our state.



The International Trade Commission’s report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership is available at: https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4607.pdf


Response to U.S. Supreme Court decision on Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association case

Coalition releases joint statement in response to U.S. Supreme Court decision on Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association case


“Wealthy special interests know that when working families come together and form unions, we make major gains for all people.  In Oregon, we have increased the minimum wage, established paid sick days, and fought for higher standards for workplace safety. These changes improve the quality of life for all Oregon families.

These victories for Oregonians interfere with the agendas of millionaires and billionaires like the Koch brothers. In response, special interest groups attack working people by trying to undermine our ability to organize. In addition to the dozens of federal cases that have been filed by corporate-funded special interests, attacks on workers continue to come through the legislature and through the ballot. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court handed these special interests a major setback as an equally divided Court affirmed a lower court decision to protect workers’ rights in Friedrichs vs. the California Teachers Association.

While we applaud the Supreme Court’s decision, we know that it will not stop the anti-worker agenda. The same wealthy special interests who failed today in the Courts are moving to the ballot in Oregon. More than seven different anti-worker ballot measures have been filed in Oregon for the November 2016 election in an attempt to roll back the success we have all shared in increasing pay and benefits for working families. People across the state are standing up in numbers we haven’t seen in decades, so they can improve their lives and their communities — and no court case or ballot measure will stop this movement. The fight for better wages, better benefits and safer working conditions for Oregon’s working families will continue.”

Oregon Legislature Approves Unemployment Extension for Locked Out Workers

(Salem, OR)  Oregon’s Senate voted late last night to approve HB 4086, a bill designed to extend unemployment insurance to workers who are locked out of their place of employment as the result of a labor dispute.  The bill was introduced into Oregon’s legislature at the same time Allegheny Technologies Incorporated chose to lockout workers represented by the United Steelworkers. The lockout began in August of last year and forced nearly 200 Steelworkers in Albany, Oregon out of work.  Earlier this week, the lockout ended when the Steelworkers and Allegheny Technologies ratified a new contract. 

 The approval of the bill by Oregon’s legislature is another victory for working people in what has been seen as a landmark legislative session with Governor Brown signing a minimum wage increase into law on Monday. 

 Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain explained why this bill is important, even after the nearly 200 locked out Steelworkers in Albany head back to work:

 “Lockouts are incredibly difficult to bear, especially if they last beyond the term of unemployment insurance.  Working people lose their homes and take on egregious debt to make ends meet, even during the time in which they’re drawing from unemployment insurance.  But by passing this law, Oregon’s legislature has taken a step forward to enact a policy decision that will ease the burden on working families during lockouts.”

Eugene City Council Votes to Stand Against the Trans-Pacific Partnership


EUGENE, OR – On January 11th, the Eugene City Council voted to take a stand against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The resolution against the trade deal was presented by City Councilor Claire Syrett, immediately seconded, and then unanimously approved by City Council. Syrett cited the impact of previous trade agreements on Oregon’s manufacturing economy, workers’ rights, and the environment as she presented the resolution:

“Those of us who were paying attention to these things during President Clinton’s administration saw the terrible impacts of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) on our manufacturing industry as just one example, and negative impacts on communities in other counties that were party to that treaty.”

Councilor Syrett also explained why it’s important for local governments to pass resolutions like Eugene’s:

“While adding our voice in opposition may not prevent this from going forward, it will put this city on record as opposing a treaty that has real potential to harm our local and state economy.”

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain responded to the vote on Monday by calling for more cities to pass similar legislation:

“Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, over 50,000 Oregon workers have been certified by the Department of Labor as having lost their jobs due to trade.  It’s time for localities, like the City of Eugene did on Monday, to say no to policies that ship their citizens’ jobs overseas, threaten the rights of workers, and lower the standard of living for all of us.  I hope that more local governments see Eugene’s example and follow it.”

The resolution is a result of local labor and community based organizations working together as Oregon Strong Voice Lane County, who held a series of actions and events in the area to call attention to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including a rally with Congressman Peter DeFazio last Spring.


Portland City Council Holds Public Hearing on Code Change to ‘Ban the Box’

Portland, OR- Advocates, impacted community members, and small business owners testified yesterday at a public hearing held by the Portland City Council in support of a proposal to ‘ban the box’.   A statewide ‘ban the box’ law passed in the 2015 Legislature, setting a minimum standard.  As the hub of Oregon's African American community, and other communities of color, Portland has an opportunity to provide a stronger solution that will better connect people to jobs and make communities safer. 


Expanding on the minimum standard set by the statewide law, the proposed code change prevents employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s conviction history during a job interview.  Tom Chamberlain, President of the Oregon AFL-CIO spoke about the importance of giving workers a fair chance at finding jobs:


“I urge Portland City Council to put a strong law on the books, take a stand and follow the 47 local jurisdictions who have done similar work by delaying inquiry until a conditional job offer has been made.”


Nkenge Harmon Johnson, President and CEO of the Urban League of Portland, testified that an expansion of the state law will provide a gateway to employment for communities who have been left behind in Oregon’s economic recovery:

“While Oregon’s statewide unemployment rate continues to decline, the economic recovery is leaving out African Americans.  The recently released 2015 State of Black Oregon reported an unemployment rate of 21% for Black Portlanders. When Oregon’s overall unemployment was 11% following the recession, we called it a crisis. Black communities and other communities of color have faced almost double this rate for years.”


Community members provided a moving narrative about the impact that this ordinance will have: 


“We need an ordinance that can actually connect people with a history of justice involvement to jobs,” said Emmanuel Price, who has had trouble finding work in his past. “We know that criminal history affects employability. An effective ordinance will ensure that criminal history is not part of the job interview process until after a conditional offer has been made.”


Perhaps the most moving testimony of the day came from Llondyn Elliott, who grew up in a household where her father faced barriers in finding a job because of a past conviction: 


“Not having access to employment changes how society, your community, and your family, sees you. Most importantly how you see yourself, resulting in a lack of confidence, opportunity, and hope. This despair affects every relationship in that person’s life, such as the relationship between parent and child, taking away from one of the most fundamentalrelationships in life, and far too often setting the stage for that child to repeat the path of the parent.”


State Representative Lew Frederick and local business owner Bill Dickey also spoke at the hearing.   Representative Frederick, whose district includes parts of North and Northeast Portland, provided clarity on why an expansion to the state law is crucial, pointing out that barriers to employment subsequently create barriers to both family and community stability.  Bill Dickey explained that his company, Morel Ink, has a positive history of hiring people with records and has never had an issue with giving workers a second chance at earning a living.


City Council is expected to hold a second reading of the proposed code change next week.  

Trans-Pacific Partnership Details Finally Released

PORTLAND, OR – The details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sweeping free trade agreement involving 40% of the global economy, has finally been released for public comment today.  Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain issued the following statement today regarding the release:

“It’s finally clear why the administration has kept TPP negotiations secret for so many years: this pact is a disaster for working people.  If the TPP is approved by Congress, it will ship good-paying, family-wage Oregon jobs overseas, and will lower wages in jobs that are left; increasing inequality by forcing Oregonians into competition with workers abroad paid less than 65 cents an hour. 

Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, over 50,000 Oregon workers have been certified by the Department of Labor as having lost their jobs due to trade.  We can’t afford another trade deal that benefits multinational corporations, their shareholders and executives. We need to be more concerned about American work boots than sneakers made in Asia for pennies on the dollar.

President Chamberlain’s statement reflects the sentiment of labor leaders across the country, including National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who issued the following statement earlier this morning:

“After six long years, the secrecy is over.  The public finally has a chance to scrutinize the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for themselves instead of having to rely on characterizations made by the agreement’s supporters.  America’s voters can now make their own judgment about whether it meets their high standards for a 21st Century agreement that will raise wages, protect our democracy, and promote sustainable growth and development. 

From what we have reviewed so far, we are deeply disappointed that our policy recommendations and those of our trade reform allies in the environmental, consumer, public health, global development, and business sectors were largely ignored.  The investment rules still provide expansive new legal rights and powers to foreign businesses to challenge legitimate government actions, the labor enforcement provisions are still inadequate to address the enormous challenges posed by this deal, and the lack of enforceable currency rules subject to trade sanctions mean the promised new export markets may never materialize. 

We will be examining the text line by line in the coming days to understand the deal's full implications for working people in every sector from manufacturing and agriculture to public and private services.  But from what we have already seen, it is clear that the threats of this expansive new agreement outweigh its benefits -- for good jobs, for democracy, for affordable medicines, for consumer safety, and for the environment. The hardworking families of the AFL-CIO will join with our allies to defeat the TPP.”


Oregon AFL-CIO Supports BOLI Advisory Opinion on Employment Status of Uber Drivers

PORTLAND, OR – The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) released an Advisory Opinion today that finds Uber drivers are employees, rather than independent contractors, under Oregon’s labor laws. The Oregon AFL-CIO supports BOLI’s opinion on this important issue, the findings of which may impact the growing practice of mislabeling workers as independent contractors in numerous industries.  Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain has issued the following statement in response to BOLI’s announcement:


“Today’s Advisory Opinion by BOLI is a step in the right direction for working people in Oregon, and beyond.  The use of the Oregon economic realities test in BOLI’s Advisory Opinion makes it very clear that drivers working for Uber should be categorized as employees, and therefore should have access to state and federal worker protections, like the basic right to be paid on time, to receive workers’ compensation benefits, and the ability to collectively negotiate to improve their conditions under the National Labor Relations Act.” 

“We support BOLI’s Advisory Opinion, and similar decisions that we have seen come out of California, because they have the potential to help stop the erosion of the relationship between an employer and their employees.  Too often, working people are labeled as independent contractors so that employers can avoid paying for things like employment taxes just to get an upper hand on competition and maximize their profits.  That upper hand and profit maximization is coming at a high cost:  working people are losing their rights on the job, and it is becoming an alarming trend throughout the country.  By next year, the richest 1% will own more than the rest of us combined.  Our economy is stratified and widespread misclassification of workers is only going to push the gap between the rich and the poor further and further apart.   That’s why the Oregon AFL-CIO will continue to oppose any effort to keep workers from receiving their rights as employees for the sake of corporate profits.”

Statement from Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain on House Trade Vote

The House of Representatives voted today to put the brakes on a trade deal that would’ve lowered wages for Oregonians and for working families across the country.  Today’s vote is because of the hard work and unity of the labor movement along with our allies in the fight for fair trade. We’ve rallied.  We’ve marched.  We’ve made thousands of calls and written thousands of letters.  And that is exactly what democracy looks like; it’s about sending a clear message to our leaders in Congress that we don’t buy in to another Free Trade Agreement that puts profits for giant corporations over working people.

We’re disappointed that Representatives Blumenauer, Bonamici, Schrader and Walden did not stand with Oregon’s workers on today’s vote, and are thankful for Representative DeFazio’s consistent and strong support on this important issue.  

We know the fight for fair trade isn’t over, but today’s vote by the House was absolutely a solid victory in the campaign to revitalize our economy on the basis of real growth, worker rights, higher wages, and shared prosperity.”

Oregon’s Unions Call for Fair Trade during Presidential Visit to Oregon

Portland, Ore –  A crowd of over 400 union members, environmental advocates and advocates for fair trade gathered outside of the Sentinel Hotel in downtown Portland on Thursday, May 7th to call for a stop to Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  On Friday, May 8th 70 or more union members and activists gathered outside of Nike Headquarters in Beaverton to continue the call for fair trade. 

Oregon’s unions are concerned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership presents a substantial threat to the livelihood of workers.  At the demonstration in downtown Portland on Thursday, Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain explained why labor stands opposed to free trade agreements that have historically left working people behind:  

“Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Oregonian wages have decreased by an average of $3,000 per year.  Trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA are removing the middle of our economy where manufacturing jobs once were prevalent.  Oregon has high rates of growth in both low and high wage jobs, but stagnation in the middle. That stratifies our economy. Without the tax revenue that is created with those middle class jobs, we can’t fully fund our schools.  We can’t fix our roads and bridges.  Trade agreements put the growth of our middle class in the crosshairs, and that’s something we can’t support.”

Addressing President Obama’s visit to Nike Headquarters, Chamberlain explains why union members are protesting outside of the front gates:

“While Nike is an locally-grown success story that we’re proud of as Oregonians, it’s our state’s workers and the products that they build that we’re worried about.  Look at our state’s recent history: Paper mills are closing down; companies like Freightliner have left the country. Since the passage of NAFTA, over 50,000 Oregon workers were certified by the Department of Labor as having lost their jobs due to trade.  President Obama has to understand that we simply cannot afford another trade deal that benefits multinational corporations while middle class jobs are disappearing from communities across Oregon.”

National AFL-CIO Communications Director and Strategic Advisor to the President Eric Hauser released the following statement regarding Nike’s promise to increase manufacturing jobs in the United States:

“Nike’s announcement that it intends to add American jobs and invest in the U.S. is a positive development, but one that should not be contingent on a possible trade deal.  We have heard similar promises from companies before, and very few have panned out. We hope this time is different. We are cautious, though.  Decades of experience have taught us that corporate-driven trade policy too often accelerates a global race to the bottom.”

Oregon’s Unions Bring Fair Trade Campaign to the Airwaves

(Portland, Ore.)—March 25, 2015   A new radio advertisement will begin to run in Oregon today with the goal of educating voters about the consequences of a “Fast Tracked” Trans-Pacific Partnership, and to put pressure onto Senator Wyden to stand against Fast Track.   The advertisement explains that under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, dangerous chemicals could become more common in imported food items.  

Advocates for food safety are concerned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will stretch our country’s capacity for food inspection too far and in turn increase the level of unsafe food in the United States’ marketplace.  An additional concern is the potential lowering of food standards under the Trans-Pacific Partnership through a process called ‘harmonization’ where standards from participating countries are brought to the same level – even if some countries, like the United States, have much higher standards than other countries in the trade agreement.

The radio advertisement is part of a coordinated effort between local and national unions, fair trade advocates and environmental organizations to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership from being pushed through Congress using Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority.  Fast Track would only need a majority vote to pass, as opposed to a super majority, and would only require a simple “yes or no” vote on a 2,000-page trade agreement that involves twelve nations, including the United States, Japan, and Vietnam.