Weekly Update: Our Endorsements

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update • September 21, 2016

2016 Endorsements

On Friday, September 9, the Oregon AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education met to vote on a final round of endorsements for the 2016 general election.  

Our committee votes to endorse candidates and ballot measures based on how they will impact not only our unions, but all working people in the state of Oregon.  We carefully consider what each candidate and ballot measure will do to help communities across our state, including schools, healthcare, the right to form a union, trade policies, and much more.  Click here to view endorsements, sign up to volunteer, register to vote, and learn more about endorsed candidates.

Election season is in full swing, with canvasses and phone banks happening across the state. Each week, we will recognize an outstanding local union for their efforts in recruiting volunteers to help get out the vote and talk to voters about endorsed candidates and ballot measures.

This week’s local union of the week is LiUNA 737!  

If your union is interested in hosting a phone bank, or would like to participate in any other voter outreach event, reply to this email and we’ll get you the tools you need to recruit volunteers.

Bud Pierce Can’t Make Up His Mind

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.”

Find out more about where Governor Kate Brown and Bud Pierce stand on the issues during their first debate on Saturday, September 24.  KGW.com will stream the debate online from 6-7pm.  

“You Should Resign”

In case you missed it, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts took Wells Fargo CEO John Strumpf to task in a hearing this week. It’s worth watching, and we hope her passion for defending working people from Wall Street corruption spreads. Click here to check it out:

Weekly Update: Have you called Congress?

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update • September 14, 2016

National Day of Action Against the TPP

No matter what you hear about the TPP being “dead,” don’t believe it! The allies of corporate CEOs are ready to tell you they stand up for workers today in order to get your votes. But they may then turn around and vote for the TPP after the election in November in order to make their friends on Wall Street happy.  

The TPP isn’t just a faraway risk; it’s a clear and present danger. Backers of the deal recently put Americans on notice that the deal could come up for a vote in Congress during the “lame duck” period between the election and the start of the year. In other words, they want to wait until few are paying attention, and many outgoing members of Congress have nothing to lose.

The only way to defeat this corporate rights deal is through people power – we have to make it so uncomfortable to vote for the TPP, so painful, so awful, that no one will think it is okay to turn their back on working people. Not Democrats. Not Republicans.

And we start with a national call-in day today, September 14. We have to tell Congress that the TPP—negotiated behind closed doors and behind our backs—doesn’t deserve a vote. But if it gets one, that vote better be NO.

Dial 855-712-8441 to be connected with your member of Congress.

Once you reach their office, tell them that one of the best ways that Congress can stand up for working families is by committing to stop an urgent threat to jobs, wages, and our democracy—the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and urge them to publicly oppose the TPP and work to stop an unfair lame-duck vote.


Oregon’s Community Alliance of Tenants is rallying in Salem on Thursday, September 22 to kick off the Just Cause Evictions campaign launch on Renter Day of Action.

The rally begins at 11am on the Oregon State Capitol steps with a legislative hearing following from 2pm – 5pm. RSVP, learn more, and spread the word on Facebook.

Trump is Wrong for Working Women

If you haven't figured it out yet, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is wrong for working women. He has made this clear throughout his life and continues to do so with his words and policy proposals this election. He doesn’t support women, and women shouldn't support him.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler introduces this video that takes a look at Trump's history with women:

Weekly Update: Working for Trump for 26 Years

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update • September 7, 2016

Working for Trump for 26 Years

The following is a powerful story by Patricia Mazur, who has worked at the Trump Taj Mahal for 26 years:

“Going on strike was not an easy decision and not something my co-workers and I at the Trump Taj Mahal took lightly. But we knew it was our only option after billionaire Carl Icahn stripped us of our health care and benefits. And we could use your help keeping our fight alive.

In 26 years serving cocktails at Trump Taj Mahal, I’ve survived four Trump Taj Mahal bankruptcies—and two bouts of breast cancer. There’s never a "good" time to learn that your cancer has returned. But in 2014, when my co-workers and I at the Trump Taj Mahal casino found out we were losing our health care because of Carl Icahn, I received news of my diagnosis.

It was a very scary time for me; not only was it my second go-around with cancer, but I lost my mother to the same illness. As if cancer wasn’t a difficult battle on its own, I had to constantly worry about debt collectors and payment plans on top of recovering from major reconstructive surgery and chemotherapy sessions. Up until the very last day we still had coverage, I was running around doing everything I could to accelerate my procedures. But the bills piled up—fast. I’m living with a friend now because I had to give up my apartment.

At the expense of people like myself who have been invested in the Trump Taj Mahal since the day it opened, billionaire Carl Icahn prioritized padding his pockets for a few extra bucks. And it’ll almost be the anniversary of when I had my operation, the same week our health care coverage ended, that Carl Icahn says he’ll be closing the Trump Taj Mahal for good. But we’ve been fighting back and have been out on strike since July 1, and intend on holding the line strong no matter what.

I don’t know what I would’ve done without the strike hardship fund helping me avoid more collection agents and debt for my chemotherapy bills. By donating to our strike hardship fund, you’re helping keep our fight alive; you’re giving people like me at least one day longer to stand up to a billionaire bully and all the injustices we’ve endured under him at the Trump Taj Mahal.

This fight goes further than Atlantic City; it’s our time to stand up to these billionaires who think it's OK to put a dollar and cent value on the livelihoods of working people.”

Update: Barring late changes, the Trump Taj Mahal is scheduled to close Oct. 10.

Upcoming Labor 2016 Events

Election season is upon us! Here’s a list of upcoming events you won’t want to miss:

Rally Against Zoom+ Care

Join us for lunch downtown with Zoom! Bring your lunch and help us to demand that Zoom+ be a more responsible community member! Fruit and snacks will be available for free.

Where: Zoom+ Care at 900 SW 5th Ave in downtown Portland
When: Tuesday, September 13 at noon
RSVP & spread the word on Facebook

Portland-based Zoom+ Care is a "fast food medicine," for-profit corporation that is partially owned by the Oregon investment firm, Endeavor Capital. Zoom+ says it is "going to change the way healthcare is being delivered" as it continues its expansion throughout Portland and into the Seattle area, but Zoom+ does not accept Medicare, Medicaid, or Tri-Care patients and they have been accused of "cherry picking" the young and the healthy in order to increase their profit margin.

If Zoom+ is allowed to avoid the problems of dealing with poorer, aging patients who have chronic health problems by marketing only to a young and healthy demographic, it will shift care for the poor, disabled, and elderly onto small, local clinics and non-profit providers who will be left with the burden of labor and cost in caring for an older and sicker population of patients, putting stress on their ability to care for all of us.

We are taking action here in Portland because we must hold Zoom+ accountable for its unethical business practices that harm our community. Holding businesses like Zoom+ Care accountable is a step along the way toward access to healthcare for all Oregonians!

Join us to hold Zoom+ accountable and demand that they accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tri-care patients!

Sponsored by:
Portland Jobs with Justice
Oregon Alliance for Retired Americans
Hands On Medicine
Bridge City Family Medical Clinic
Oregon AFL-CIO
UFCW 555

Weekly Update: Labor Day

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update • August 31, 2016

Labor Day

Labor Day is almost here! Whether you’re planning to head out to a picnic or host your own barbecue, we’ve got you covered:

And here’s a roundup of articles to help you send the right message on social media for Labor Day:

"No one is more American than I am."

Proud union member and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre has a message for Donald Trump: "No one is more American than I am."

Tefere’s story is truly inspiring.

One night at his UPS job, Tefere Gebre's co-worker handed him some union material.

“He told me that I’d get health care and vacation and other benefits by filling it out. I said, ‘Are you serious?’ I thought, ‘Hmm. Everyone should have that.’”

Tefere, now the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO (the third-highest ranking position at the federation representing America's working people), has been a proud union member for most of his life, valuing the freedom of people to come together in union.

This freedom is sacred to Tefere, considering what he had to live through to achieve it. And he won't let anyone, especially not Donald Trump, try to take that away from him.

Born in Gondar, Ethiopia, Tefere came to the United States in the 1980s as a young teenager having survived a brutal military regime that killed thousands of people, including children.

Watch this video to hear Tefere's story and his perspective on what being an American is.

No TPP Vote in Lame Duck Session

Last week, news broke that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not bring forward the Trans-Pacific Partnership for a vote during the post-election “lame duck” session.

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain released the following statement in response to the news from the Senate:

“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.”

Senator Jeff Merkley, our steadfast ally on trade and workers’ rights, released a statement as well last week. The Oregon AFL-CIO applauds Senator Merkley’s continued support and advocacy for working people and our unions.

“It’s rare for me to agree with Senator McConnell, but in this case he made absolutely the right decision. The TPP is a flawed trade deal that fails our workers and is opposed by both major party presidential nominees. Pushing it through at the last minute before a new administration would simply be wrong. We need trade policies that work for working Americans, not a rush to ram through giant trade agreements that repeat the mistakes of past job-killing trade deals.”

This is good news, but our work isn’t over. We need to continue speaking up against the TPP and any free trade agreement which will ship jobs overseas. Click here to make sure you’re signed up to receive action alerts from the Oregon AFL-CIO.

Weekly Update: This Is Huge

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update • August 24, 2016

A Huge Win for Student Workers

Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that students who work as teaching and research assistants at private universities have the right to stand together and organize unions on campus to negotiate for wages, benefits, and working conditions.  

This is a huge step forward for student workers, like those at Columbia University whose struggle lead to this momentous ruling from the NLRB.

Paul Katz, one of the graduate student workers at Columbia University involved in the organizing campaign told the New York Times why he and others are fighting for a union: “It’s a question of power and democracy in a space in the academy that’s increasingly corporatized, hierarchical. That’s what we’re most concerned about.” Simply put, it’s about giving student workers the ability to level the playing field by having a voice at work.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released a statement which puts yesterday's ruling into perspective:

“Today’s momentous decision by the NLRB marks a major victory for teaching and research assistants at Columbia University whose right to organize and form a union has been restored. This common sense decision will empower over 100,000 teaching and research assistants at other private institutions across the country, including Yale, Harvard, Cornell, and the New School whose teaching and research assistants are already organizing. These student workers often toil under unpredictable conditions while they teach undergraduates and provide the backbone work that sustains our world-class research laboratories.

Like all other working people, they deserve a say in determining their wages, benefits, and working conditions. The decision is also a win for working people everywhere who are challenging insecure working conditions in other industries. Working people are taking advantage of new and innovative ways to organize and engage in collective bargaining.

The labor movement will continue to stand by these student workers, and all working people, as together we ensure fairness in our economy.”

Union -Made School Supplies

It’s that time of year again! As kids across Oregon head back to school, make sure you’re filling up their backpacks with union-made school supplies.  Here’s a list to help you out, courtesy of Labor411:

ICYMI: Justice Department Bans Private Prisons

The Department of Justice announced last week that it would stop the use of private contractors, such as Corrections Corporation of America, to run prisons under their jurisdiction. The announcement comes on the heels of damaging reports about the safety, security, and oversight of private prisons released by DOJ and Mother Jones in recent months.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement in reaction to the news:

“The labor movement applauds the Department of Justice for taking the necessary steps to end their use of private prisons. Privately run prisons have a long record of being less safe and providing fewer resources and opportunities than publicly run institutions.

Our criminal justice system can never be fair while there is money to be made in locking up individuals. The entire labor movement will continue to fight until all incarcerated people are treated with dignity and every man and woman who works inside a correctional facility is safe on the job.“

AFSCME President Lee Saunders applauded the move as a step in the right direction:

“Whether at the federal or state and local level, private prison operations have long been a stain on our nation’s criminal justice system. Compared to publicly run correctional facilities, private prisons provide a fraction of the safety and rehabilitation our communities should expect. They have not kept us secure, nor have they delivered savings to the taxpayers—instead, corporate prisons have profited off of the suffering of our communities and have led the way to mass incarceration and the immoral detention of immigrant families in privately operated facilities that just this week were revealed in reports to be wasting taxpayer money.

Today’s announcement reinforces what we have long asserted: The dedicated women and men working in our nation’s federal, state and local public prisons keep our communities safe, day in and day out, and they do it more cost effectively than at prisons operated for profit by private corporations. Private prisons are a failed experiment. We wholeheartedly applaud the Justice Department’s decision to end their use and call on state and local governments, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, to follow the federal government’s lead on this decision.”

Weekly Update: Reality Check

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update • August 17, 2016

Action Alert:  Rally at the Capitol Next Week

The United Steelworkers Legislation & Education Committee is hosting a rally in Salem at the Capitol in opposition of Governor Brown's support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The rally is August 23rd from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.

Event Reminder: Rock Against the TPP!

Don’ forget to join us in Portland on Saturday to rock against the TPP!
Click here for all the details.

Reality Check

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain published an opinion piece in Sunday’s edition of The Oregonian. His piece is a response to the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon staffer, Anne Marie Gurney, who published an opinion piece the week before.

Here’s Tom’s article, in case you missed it:

Anne Marie Gurney, a staffer for the Washington-based Freedom Foundation, recently broadsided Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an op-ed in The Oregonian/OregonLive ("Kotek, Clinton's brand of progressivism has devastated Oregon's economy," Aug. 2). Unfortunately, it was heavy on rhetoric but light on facts.

First, some context: On numerous occasions, the anti-union Freedom Foundation's leadership has stated that their goal is to weaken labor unions in the Pacific Northwest so they can enact policies which benefit the wealthiest and leave working people behind. To that end, their goal is to paint the current leadership and recent policies that help working people, like the minimum wage increase and paid sick days, as hindering economic growth. The reality, however, does not live up to the "facts" Gurney claims.

Quoting data compiled by economist Eric Fruits, Gurney writes that "over the past 30 years or so, Oregon has frequently been in the top 10 for having the highest unemployment." Rather than consider what Gurney writes has happened "frequently" since the beginning of Ronald Reagan's second term, it seems far more relevant to look at the current jobs situation.

In June 2016, Oregon's unemployment rate was 4.8 percent, below the national rate of 4.9 percent. This year, The Oregonian/OregonLive has published headlines such as "Oregon unemployment rate drops again as state adds 2,300 jobs," (Jan. 20); "Portland-area unemployment rate reaches 15-year low," (March 8); and "Oregon unemployment rate now at lowest point since 2007," (March 1).

Gurney also writes that "Oregon has had the highest rate of underemployment in seven of the past 13 years." But numbers from Josh Lehner of the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis show that underemployment has dropped to levels not seen in a decade. That does not sound like a state being crushed by the weight of policies that give working people a fair shot at prosperity.

But the argument that makes the least sense is this: "Since the Great Recession, the cost of living in Oregon has grown to be almost 30 percent higher than the national average, driven largely by skyrocketing housing costs, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center."

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center has created its own index to estimate the cost of living in every state and assigned the nation as a whole to 100 on their scale. One hundred-thirty isn't 30 percent higher than 100 in real dollars! To illustrate, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimates the national cost of living for a family of four to be $62,260. One would expect, if Gurney and the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center were using anything other than arbitrarily assigned numbers, that Oregon's cost of living would be an outrageous $80,938.

But it's not. The statewide average cost of living in Oregon is actually $52,062.40, or 16 percent lower than the national average.

Put all of this together, and what you get are political operatives using fuzzy math and a study they paid for themselves to try to pull the wool over the eyes of Oregonians, all in an attempt to attack the rights of working people to stand together as a union.

It's a good thing we're smarter than that.

Congressman Schrader's Overtime Legislation Would Take Overtime Protections from Working People

Overtime rules can be a powerful way to prevent working people from getting overworked without getting paid more for their additional effort. Such rules protect both working people and their families, but the federal rules on overtime are out of date and don't protect nearly enough Americans. The Obama administration recently proposed updates to these rules that would help millions of Americans. NW Labor Press describes the update to the rules:

“The update has to do with which employees are eligible for overtime pay. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, workers must be paid time-and-a-half for every hour they work over 40 in a week, but [salaried] 'executive, administrative and professional' employees can be considered exempt from the overtime pay requirement. Increasingly, employers have been paying low-level managers on a salaried basis and claiming they’re exempt from overtime. They get away with it because the Department of Labor says it’s okay to exempt managers from overtime if they’re paid on a salaried basis and the salary is over $23,660 a year. That dollar amount was last updated in 2004 after being unchanged since the 1970s, and it was too low even in 2004. The Obama administration’s new rule raises it to $47,476—more along the lines of what it was in the 1970s, adjusted for inflation—and indexes it to wage growth from now on. The change is expected to affect over 4 million American workers.”

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) has proposed legislation that would delay the scheduled increase in the overtime salary threshold for three years. The Schrader bill would also gut a key provision of the new rules—the one that indexes the salary threshold to wage growth, which is necessary to keep people from losing their overtime protection over time. This indexing provision is one of the key reasons why the administration proposed new overtime rules in the first place.

If the Schrader bill were to pass, an estimated 10.4 million fewer working people would have salaries below the threshold by 2035, which means they would be less likely to have overtime protection.

Congressman Schrader is wrong and this legislation will hurt both working people and the economy.

Tell Congressman Schrader: Don’t take overtime protections from working people.

Weekly Update: Are You Ready to Rock?

Labor 2016 Kickoff in Eugene on Saturday

Election season is right around the corner and Oregon's union movement is gearing up to elect strong candidates across the state.

To kickoff Labor 2016, we are hosting a canvass for union-endorsed Julie Fahey for State Representative and a campaign training next Saturday in Eugene. Here’s what you need to know to attend this exciting event:

Labor 2016 Kickoff: Campaign Training + Canvass for Julie Fahey

We know the political strength of the labor movement in Oregon is rooted in our activism, organizing, and volunteer work, but recruiting new volunteers is one of the most persistent challenges of the work we do. Saturday’s training will focus on strategies for mobilizing union members to become motivated and active in keeping our state a leader in the advancement of rights and protections for working people.

We hope to see you on Saturday, and please RSVP if you're planning to attend. Please reply to this email if you have any questions about the event, or about the Oregon AFL-CIO’s Labor 2016 program.

Rock Against the TPP is Coming to Oregon!

The biggest challenge we’re facing in the fight to stop the anti-democratic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is that too many people still don’t know what it is.

That’s a real problem. And corporate lobbyists are hoping to exploit it to quietly rush the TPP through Congress this Fall. Fortunately, we’ve got a secret weapon to help sound the alarm: the Rock Against the TPP roadshow.

On Saturday, August 20, thousands of Oregonians will come together to demonstrate their unified opposition to the largest free trade agreement ever: the TPP. Join us for an afternoon teach-in at Portland State University covering the environmental consequences of the TPP, then march with us to a free concert and rally at Director's Park in downtown Portland from 5 - 10pm.

2:00 - 3:30pm: Teach In at PSU
4:00 - 4:45pm: March/Bike Ride (S. Park Blocks)
5:00 - 10:00pm: Concert and Rally Against the TPP (815 SW Park Ave)

Rock Against the TPP is a nationwide uprising and concert tour meant to raise awareness about the threats of the TPP and the likely vote in Congress right after the election. This massive event is sponsored by the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, the Sierra Club, Fight for the Future, Firebrand Records, and many others. For more information and to get your free tickets CLICK HERE.

Featuring: Anti-Flag (acoustic), Golden Globe nominated actress Evangeline Lilly, Downtown Boys, Bell's Roar, Evan Greer, Taina Asili, and more.

If you want to help before or during the show, please fill out the volunteer form here.

Join us for this family-friendly concert with food carts, a beer garden, trade-themed carnival games, and more! Get your free tickets today!

Portland Specialty Baking Faces Class Action Lawsuit

Seven immigrant and refugee workers took a stand this week against harsh working conditions at Portland Specialty Baking, LLC (PSB), the same bakery who employed ruthless union busting tactics against an organizing effort six months ago.

The PSB production line workers filed a class action lawsuit claiming violations of overtime laws and paid sick leave, seeking to represent hundreds of current and former workers. PSB workers manufacture such baked goods as bagels, pretzels, and pies, that are sold under Franz and Rich’s brand names and at Starbucks, Walmart, Costco, Winco and Jamba Juice.

“We work long hours, sometimes more than 13 hours a day and often over 60 hours in a week,” said Ignacio Mazahua Reyes through a Spanish interpreter. “We are simply asking to be paid correctly the overtime that we are owed and to be able to take paid sick leave without fear that we will be written up or lose our jobs.”

The workers, through their attorneys at Northwest Workers’ Justice Project and the Law Office of Phil Goldsmith, allege they should be paid both daily manufacturing overtime when they work more than 10 hours a day and weekly overtime for hours over 40 in a week. They request injunctive relief to prevent shifts of more than 13 hours, illegal in manufacturing. The complaint also says PSB’s attendance policy violates the new Oregon Paid Sick Leave Law that went into effect on January 1, 2016 because workers receive points that can lead to discipline and written warnings for taking protected leave.

“The daily manufacturing and weekly overtime wages are meant to protect our clients, or at least compensate them, for the grueling working conditions they are experiencing,” said Corinna Spencer-Scheurich of the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project. “For many, this is one of their first jobs in the United States, and wage theft and labor violations don’t constitute a very warm welcome.”

“Some small changes in pay or schedules could make a big difference in our lives,” said Hsit Hsit through an interpreter. “It is hard to get enough rest. Without the lawsuit, the company would have very little reason to do things differently.”  

Weekly Update: It's Almost Time

Labor 2016 Campaign Kickoff Events

Election season is right around the corner and the Oregon's union movement is gearing up to elect strong candidates across the state.

To kickoff the election cycle, we’re having events in August and September to provide Central Labor Chapters and local unions with resources to bolster the electoral power of working people.

We know the political strength of the labor movement in Oregon is rooted in our activism, organizing, and volunteer work,  but recruiting new volunteers is one of the most persistent challenges of the work we do. The trainings and campaign kickoffs will focus on strategies for mobilizing union members to become motivated and active in keeping our state a leader in the advancement of rights and protections for working people.

Come get the tools you need to effectively recruit volunteers and knock doors this election cycle!

Click here for a list of all the upcoming kickoff events and to RSVP.

Union Veterans Speak Out Against Trump

US Marine and Iraq War Veteran Will Fischer gives Donald Trump a reality check in these two straight forward and important videos. Please share these videos widely.

Thank you Will, and all our military families for your sacrifices while defending our freedom.

Collective Power Brings Real Change

The political landscape has shifted because working people collectively bargained for, fought for and won pay raises in historic fashion. The time is ripe for a new economic agenda for broad prosperity, and organizing and collective bargaining are the best tools to achieve the economy that works for all.

Working people are standing up and speaking out for a voice on the job, which means the right to join together to demand better wages and working conditions without fear of firing or retaliation. We also are helping to win legislation that positively impacts everyone. These latest worker wins show what the power of collective voice can achieve.

IAFF Leads Toxic Flame Retardant Ban in Washington, D.C.: D.C. Local 36 was instrumental in securing passage of legislation banning the use of toxic flame retardants. This ban will help reduce the deadly cancer risk to families and firefighters. The Fire Fighters (IAFF) has fought tirelessly for bans on the use of these toxic fire retardant chemicals. Since 2003, 12 states have passed bans, and 11 others are currently considering restrictions.

At the federal level: Congress passed legislation that strengthens the ability of the Environmental Protection Administration to regulate and ban dangerous chemicals. The Chemical Safety Act will allow the EPA to protect firefighters and families from toxic flame retardants throughout the nation, which is in addition to actions states can take.

$15 Minimum Wage Passes in District of Columbia: United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 has been a champion of raising the minimum wage and continues to work with the District of Columbia Council to improve the lives of D.C. working families. The union is calling on the city to guarantee stable hours and predictable scheduling in chain restaurants and retail stores. It also advocates for the passage of the Universal Paid Leave Act to help low-wage workers safeguard themselves and their families in the event they are without income for an extended period.

Hundreds of Health Professionals Join AFT: Nearly 300 registered nurses, medical and dental assistants and addiction treatment center workers in Montana, Connecticut and New Jersey recently voted to join the union. The addiction treatment center workers at Sunrise House voted nearly 5–1 to join the Health Professionals and Allied Employees, an AFT affiliate and New Jersey’s largest union of health care professionals.

Machinists Win Strong Contract After Six-Week Lockout: More than 400 Machinists (IAM) Local 86 members in Spokane, Washington, voted to ratify a new four-year contract with Triumph Composite Systems. The contract includes pay raises, bonuses, a cap on health care costs and a new company-funded retirement savings plan for employees hired since 2013. It also cuts in half a two-tier pay scale and allows for the union and the aerospace parts factory to explore better alternatives to outsourcing

Weekly Update: 103 Days

103 Days Until Election Day

Election Day is 103 days away, and it’s never too early to begin preparing to elect candidates who support working people, our unions, and the issues which matter to us.  

Here are two things to do today to make sure you’re ready:

1. Update your voter registration!

Make sure your address is updated, especially if you’ve recently moved.
Click here to get started.

2.  Sign up to volunteer!

We will hold canvasses and phone banks across the state starting after Labor day. Volunteering for union-endorsed candidates is a great way to get out, meet new people, and help Oregon continue to advance policies like raising the minimum wage, paid sick days, and more. Click here to sign up.


The Democratic National Convention is underway in Philadelphia this week, and some familiar faces to Oregon’s union movement spoke to delegates on the first day of the DNC:

Senator Jeff Merkley

Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

The working people of the AFL-CIO proudly congratulate Hillary Clinton as the first female presidential nominee of a major party. Clinton said labor will always have a champion in the White House and a seat at the table if she is president. Clinton stands with working people and believes unions are critical to providing safe, good-paying jobs for people to provide for their families.

She has a strong history advocating for working families. Clinton believes that paid family leave, earned sick days, fair schedules, equal pay for women and quality affordable child care are critical for working families in today's economy.  

My Life Matters to the Labor Movement

The following is from the AFL-CIO Now Blog and was written by Nancy Luc, Chair of the Greater Boston Labor Council Futures Committee

This month has hit me hard with news that not once, but twice, black lives were lost at the hands of police officers. And then even more violence unfolded in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La. While the locations of these most recent events are far from Boston, where I live and work, they have hurt me so deeply I feel I must respond.

The time for “political correctness,” for fear of speaking out, for avoiding the conversation about what is happening in our country has ended. Silence is no longer an option when we are confronted by racist violence. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” We as the labor movement cannot remain silent any longer because silence has equaled consent for too long in this country and has allowed the cycle of violence to continue.

I applaud the statements of our national leaders about these recent events. I was particularly moved that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka proclaimed, “Labor cannot and will not sit on the sidelines when it comes to racial justice.”

The challenge is in translating this strong commitment to our workplaces and our communities across the country. The AFL-CIO’s Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice came to Boston just a few months ago, and I participated in a conversation with local labor leaders about how we can, together, address racism. This was an important step, and I am eager to press on together to confront racism wherever we see it, whether in our movement or in our streets.

If we are truly brothers and sisters as we say we are, then take these words from your sister as a rallying cry and stand shoulder to shoulder with me as we actively work toward changing the way we view each other, changing our justice system and ending all systems of oppression in our country. Listen to what black union members have to say about what is happening in our country and in our unions. Support black leadership in our movement. Join me in the streets when we march for racial justice.

Not everyone reading this will agree with me that the labor movement must take on racism loudly and persistently wherever we see it. As a leader of a young worker group, I feel it is part of my charge to push the labor movement to change and be relevant to the next generation, even if that change can feel uncomfortable. Right now my heart hurts and is heavy, and I am asking you to stand with me, even if it feels uncomfortable. Together, we must show our country and the world which side our movement is on. Will you stand with me in letting the world know that Black Lives Matter to the labor movement?

Weekly Update; Trump is the Problem, Not the Solution

Trump is the Problem, Not the Solution

The Republican National Convention has officially selected Donald Trump as their 2016 presidential nominee. Working people and union leaders have been speaking out against Trump’s nomination, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka who recently spoke out against Trump’s pick for Vice President:

“Congratulations to Donald Trump on the second worst vice presidential pick in history. Everything Donald Trump says shows he is desperate to be working people’s friend, but everything Donald Trump does proves he is our enemy. This decision proves that he does not stand with working families. Mike Pence might be the right choice for Donald Trump, but he’s the wrong choice for America. We need leaders who will bring us together, not tear us apart. Mike Pence once again proves Donald Trump’s true priority of assaulting the rights of working people and helping corporate CEOs line their pockets.”

President Trumka also released a video explaining why Trump is not the solution to our problems, but is the problem:

Michael "Iron Mike" Kilbane, a member of Ironworkers Local 17 in Cleveland, had this to say about the RNC’s choice for President:

“Like all Clevelanders, I welcome the [Republican National Convention] to our fine city. I hope they all can see why we love it so much. I am troubled, however, that the Republican Party has found its way to nominating Donald Trump as its candidate for president. We’ve all heard Trump’s attempted appeal to working people as the candidate that "has our back." It's a ruse. A smokescreen. It's faux populism. A sad attempt to divide the working-class vote of this country. The man is a card-carrying member of the American ruling-class and always has been. Someone who has only known privilege and entitlement his entire life. Someone who values his own personal gain and profit above any other consideration and will do anything to ensure it continues to grow. A close look at Trump’s record as a businessman shows that he would more quickly stab working people in the back than anything else.”

Do you agree with President Trumka and Iron Mike Kilbane? If so, make sure you’re registered to vote and stay tuned for ways to get involved in upcoming election efforts.

Support Workers at the Trump Las Vegas Hotel

This afternoon in Las Vegas thousands of people are rallying in support of the workers at the Trump Las Vegas hotel. Donald Trump wants to "Make America Great Again," but he refuses to negotiate with the workers who make his hotel a success.

In fact, ever since these workers voted to create a union (something he opposed every step of the way), he has refused to meet with them. Meanwhile, they are paid less than their union peers, spend more on health care and don’t get a guaranteed pension. To put it mildly, he is being a second-rate boss.

Stand with the workers who are fighting against Trump to improve their families' lives.

Join our Twitter storm, going on RIGHT NOW, by sharing some of the tweets below. Don’t have a Twitter account? Click on the Facebook posts below to share them on your timeline.

  • Hey @realDonaldTrump negotiate a fair contract with your hotel workers in Las Vegas. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #StartHere @Culinary226
  • If @realDonaldTrump is so fearless why’s he afraid to negotiate with his workers in Las Vegas? #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #StartHere @Culinary226
  • .@realDonaldTrump’s secret to making $$$ is being a 2nd rate boss. Negotiate w/ your workers in Vegas! #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #StartHere
  • If @realDonaldTrump wants to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain he should #StartHere. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMXgVoL45Hc @Culinary226
  • Hey @realDonaldTrump negotiate with your workers as equals. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #StartHere https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz4Yvjd_UoQ @Culinary226

Rock Against the TPP
is Coming to Oregon!

The biggest challenge we’re facing in the fight to stop the anti-democratic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is that too many people still don’t know what it is.

That’s a real problem. And corporate lobbyists are hoping to exploit it to quietly rush the TPP through Congress this Fall. Fortunately, we’ve got a secret weapon to help sound the alarm: the Rock Against the TPP roadshow.

On Saturday, August 20, thousands of Oregonians will come together to demonstrate their unified opposition to the largest free trade agreement ever: the TPP. Join us for an afternoon teach-in at Portland State University covering the environmental consequences of the TPP, then march with us to a free concert and rally at Director's Park in downtown Portland from 5 - 10pm.

2:00 - 3:30pm: Teach In at PSU
4:00 - 4:45pm: March/Bike Ride (S. Park Blocks)
5:00 - 10:00pm: Concert and Rally Against the TPP (815 SW Park Ave)

Rock Against the TPP is a nationwide uprising and concert tour meant to raise awareness about the threats of the TPP and the likely vote in Congress right after the election. This massive event is sponsored by the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, the Sierra Club, Fight for the Future, Firebrand Records, and many others. For more information and to get your free tickets CLICK HERE.

Featuring: Anti-Flag(acoustic), Golden Globe nominated actress Evangeline Lilly, Downtown Boys, Bell's Roar, Evan Greer, Taina Asili, and more!

If you want to help before or during the show, please fill out the volunteer form here.

Join us for this family-friendly concert with food carts, a beer garden, trade-themed carnival games, and more! Get your free tickets today!

Oregon Strong Voice Summit Registration Deadline Extended

There is still time to register for the 2016 Oregon Strong Voice Summit in Eugene on Friday, July 29.

You can register until Monday, July 25th for this free and exciting event.

Joining us are top-notch trainers from across the country to help with an equally top-notch lineup of workshops, including:

  • Evicting the Housing Crisis - exploring opportunities for strategic innovation in housing policy throughout Oregon
  • Building Power Through the Ballot Box - fighting the anti-worker and anti-immigrant ballot measures in 2016
  • Trail Blazing - grass roots power building for campaigns outside of the Portland metro area
  • Meaningful Coalitions - what do strong partnerships between racial justice non-profits and labor look like?

We will be joined by Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, as well as a panel discussion moderated by Bob Bussel from the UO Labor Education Research Center with Joe Baessler (Political Director of AFSCME council 75), Claire Syrett (Eugene City Councilor), and Jaime Arredondo (Secretary-Treasurer of PCUN) to talk about strategies for building local power, engaging union and community members around the election, and how the fights we face in Oregon are part of the broader progressive struggle nationally and globally.

Don’t miss out! Register today.

If you’ve already registered, please spread the word about the summit
share our Facebook event page.

Weekly Update: Don't Sell Us Short

Action Alert:
Don’t Sell Us Short on Overtime

Congressman Kurt Schrader is pushing a bill in Congress which will change how the new overtime law works - including some bad changes for working people.

The bill being pushed by Congressman Schrader would delay the start of the new law and would get rid of an important provision that indexes the threshold requirements for overtime pay to account for wage growth.  That's not a step forward for working people, it's a step backward.  And we can't afford to keep going in the wrong direction.

Sign the petition today and tell Congressman Schrader not to sell us short on overtime.

Already signed? Share this action with your network:

A Week of Tragedy

Last week saw a series of tragic events: the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five police officers in Dallas, Texas. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released statements last week in response to the violence:

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the two African-American men who were shot by police within twenty-four hours of each other.

Racism plays an insidious role in the daily lives of all working people of color. This is a labor issue because it is a workplace issue; it is a community issue, and unions are the community. Philando Castile was a union member, and so his family is our family. Last year the AFL-CIO launched a Commission on Racial and Economic Justice to address the issues faced by our brothers and sisters of color and to take a hard look at ourselves to ensure we practice what we preach. The Commission aimed to educate working people on the way racism weakens the collective power of all working people.

It is haunting that only two years ago I delivered a speech in St. Louis in the aftermath of Mike Brown’s death denouncing systemic racism in the United States. Since then, hundreds of people have lost their lives in incidents involving police officers, and African-Americans continue to be disproportionately impacted. Labor cannot and will not sit on the sidelines when it comes to racial justice. It is not enough to simply say “Black Lives Matter.” We must and will continue to fight for reforms in policing and to address issues of racial and economic inequality.


We mourn the loss of the officers who were shot in the line of duty in Dallas, protecting the right to protest peacefully. Our hearts go out to the victims’ families, the city of Dallas, and the nation.

Violence is never the answer to violence, and two wrongs never make a right. As a nation and as people, we are defined by our values. We are better than this. We categorically reject the idea that anyone can justify anger by murdering police officers or civilians.

It is not enough to want to be better; we have to get better – as human beings, as communities, as a nation. This senseless killing must stop, and we all have to find a way to make it stop.

Machinists Win at Boeing

Our friends at the Northwest Labor Press reported some exciting news from North Portland this week:  Workers at a Boeing paint contractor voted yes to form a union represnted by the IAMAW! Click here for the full story.

Respect & Dignity Wins in Oregon

Thanks to the hard work of thousands of Oregonians, we are proving that respect and dignity are stronger than hate - all three anti-immigrant ballot initiatives failed to qualify for the 2016 election.

The struggle against extremists is not over, however. The extremist organization, Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR) continues to coordinate with national hate groups and big out-of-state funders, such as Loren Parks, to target immigrant families in Oregon.

First, they sponsored measures to push immigrants further into the shadows by making English the official language of Oregon, mandate businesses use flawed programs to screen employees, and roll back people's right to vote by cancelling all voter registrations. Because people like you stood up and said this isn’t the Oregon we want, they have shifted their focus.

Now, they are expanding their extremist agenda and are actively working to destroy Oregon’s democratic values. OFIR has teamed up with other conservative interest groups to push two anti-democracy measures designed to:

1.       Roll back Oregon’s progress on important legislative issues; and

2.       Limit voter education.

Loren Parks, the single largest individual donor in Oregon political history, is playing his usual role and is currently the only financial backer of these measures with a sizable financial contribution exceeding $500,000.

On top of that, OFIR has vowed to return next election cycle with their anti-immigrant agenda, and hate is still a dominant theme in this - and the next - election. We are committed to long-term change and we have faith in each other to see this through.

We believe Oregon works best when we support, care, and invest in the health of all our children and protecting our environment. We believe that all workers should be treated with dignity and respect. We believe in protecting people’s right to vote and building movements around people power. But our ability to collectively move progress forward in Oregon is under attack and we have to be vigilant this election cycle.

Oregon Labor Employment Relations Association Opportunity

Oregon’s unions have the opportunity to enroll as a group in the Oregon Labor Employment Relations Association and get substantially reduced rates for membership. Oregon LERA hosts topical breakfast programs and an annual conference.  Registrations are discounted for LERA members.  There will be a two-day conference November on “Who’s the boss? The erosion of the traditional employer/employee relationship.” The current rate is $40 per membership. The new institutional rates are 5-8 members for $200 or 9-12 members for $275. Oregon LERA provides education where labor, management and neutrals are in the same room discussing new developments and problems in employment relations and collective bargaining.  

You can find out other information about LERA at www.oregonlera.com.

Weekly Update: Registration Deadline Alert!

Registration Deadline Alert!

Act fast! Registration deadlines are coming up for LERC’s AFL-CIO Summer School and the 2016 Oregon Strong Voice Summit.

A Step in the Right Direction

On Friday, July 1, over 100,000 Oregonians earning minimum wage received a raise. Within Portland’s urban growth boundary and in urban counties, wages increased from $9.25 per hour to $9.75. In nonurban counties, the minimum wage increased 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 Oregon AFL-CIO’s 2015-16 Legislative Agenda.

The November Ballot

The deadline for ballot measures to qualify for the November ballot is this Friday, July 8th.   Here are a few recent news stories about what to expect in November:

Thinking about Running for Office?

Do you know about the Oregon Labor Candidate School? Since 2012 OLCS has trained union members to run for office, including some names you’re sure to recognize on your ballot this year as well as union members currently in office.

If you’re considering running, read the following message from Oregon Labor Candidate School Executive Director Sara Ryan:

2016 is an exciting year for OLCS. As we start our 5th year training union members to run for political office, we have 7 alumni running for state level elected office, 12 members currently serving in office, and many more sitting on appointed boards and commissions, and stepping up for leadership roles. Does this sound like the right organization for you?

OLCS is currently accepting applications from members for the Portland area class starting in October. Classes are held on the second Saturday of the month, for six months, in different union halls. Our engaging and interactive curriculum is designed to support both the political newbie as well as the experienced campaigner. Union members who are interested in learning more about this 6-month course can contact me for more information, or visit our website at www.oregonlaborcandidateschool.org. You will find the link to apply on the APPLY tab.

If you are wondering if this class is right for you, let's grab some coffee and talk about it. Participants in the program are required to fundraise, attend all classes, and volunteer for political campaigns. Travel scholarships are available for people who have to commute farther than 100 miles. Additionally, if you would like to nominate someone to attend OLCS, please just send me his or her contact information and why you are nominating this member.

In solidarity,

Sara Ryan
Executive Director, OLCS

Weekly Update: The Right Move

The Right Move:
Giving Back to Our Community

Yesterday our friends over at the Northwest Labor Press broke some exciting news: The Oregon AFL-CIO is planning to convert our headquarters into affordable housing for working people.

“If all goes as planned, the Oregon Labor Center will meet a wrecking ball in mid-2017 to make way for a four-story development combining union office space with underground parking and up to 120 units of affordable housing. Union pension funds would pay for it, and union workers would build it. And unlike most residential apartments going up in inner Southeast Portland today, these would be priced at rents affordable to working people.”

image via Northwest Labor Press
Click here to get the story.

One Month Away!

The 2016 Oregon Strong Voice Summit is one month away!

Here’s a recap of what is shaping up to be an amazing event:

  • Keynote address from Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek!
  • Amazing workshops with top-notch presenters, including:
    Evicting the Housing Crisis
    Building Power through the Ballot Box
    Trail Blazing: Grassroots Campaigns
    Meaningful Coalitions

This summit is a unique opportunity to convene labor and community partners from throughout the state to share skills and experiences, learn from experts, and re-energize for a vigorous election season and beyond.

There is no cost to attend the summit, which will be held on July 29 at the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. Click here to sign up. Already signed up? Great! Spread the word:

And if the Summit wasn’t already exciting enough, it coincides with LERC’s AFL-CIO Summer School! Click here to learn more about this exciting event.

Trump’s Ideas Not Welcome in Oregon

Donald trump has campaigned on cynicism, hate, violence and division. That’s not the way we do things in Oregon. Click here if you agree that Trump’s ideas have no place in Oregon.

In his very first speech as a candidate, Trump told reporters “When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best … They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.” In December, he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

image via CBS News

That’s not the Oregon way. His views have no place here. Unfortunately, anti-immigrant forces in Oregon, funded by long-time Bill Sizemore supporter Loren Parks, are bringing Trump’s ideas to our state in the form of three ballot measures:

  • Require More Red Tape In Hiring: The first measure would make every business in Oregon use a flawed federal program to check employment eligibility for all current and future employees, adding more red tape for workers trying to start a job.
  • Eliminate Multi-Lingual Programs: Another measure would restrict all government communications to English. All government information and documents (including those at schools) could only be published in English.
  • Cancel Your Voter Registration: A final measure would cancel every Oregonian’s voter registration until they can provide additional documentation of their identity to the county clerk’s office.

Click here if you agree that Trump’s ideas have no place in Oregon.

Union-Made Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is just a few days away. Make sure you’re stocking up on union-made party supplies for your celebration! Click here to see a list of all the goods you’ll need to celebrate Independence Day.

Supreme Court Update

Yesterday, the Supreme Court refused to reopen Friedrichs V. California Teachers Association, leaving intact a 4-4 deadlock and essentially ending the case. Attacks on working people and our unions, however, are far from gone. The Oregon AFL-CIO will continue to monitor these threats and keep you updated.

Image via Bloomberg News

In other Supreme Court news, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement last week regarding United States V. Texas, and what the decision means for working people:

“Today's Supreme Court ruling is a setback for all those who have fought for more humane and rational enforcement of our nation's immigration laws. While we are deeply disappointed by the Court's failure to reach a decision, we will redouble our organizing efforts to defeat the obstructionist, anti-immigrant forces behind this lawsuit and ensure that all working people can assert their rights on the job and in the community without fear of deportation.

This decision will further motivate a resilient community that is a vibrant and vital part of our labor movement. We continue to urge the Administration to use its discretion to protect those courageous immigrant workers who are exercising their workplace and civil rights.”

Weekly Update: We Will Not Be Defeated

We Will Not Be Defeated

Working people at Verizon recently had a major victory, and because of the many sacrifices made and the unity on the picket line and beyond, we came out stronger than we went in.

We sent a clear message: When working people stand together to fight for what is right we will not be defeated. Check out this new video to learn more about the story of how Verizon employees stood up for their rights and won.

National AFL-CIO Endorses
Hillary Clinton

The General Board of the 12.5 million member National AFL-CIO voted last week 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.

We Must Do Better:
Latino Workers Face Greater Risk on the Job

Too many Latino workers face disease, major injury and death while laboring in dangerous jobs with inadequate safeguards. In 2014, 804 Latino workers died on the job, with 64% of these fatalities being Latino workers born outside of the United States. Latino worker deaths recently have decreased even though more Latinos are working in the construction industry than ever before: Nearly 70% of new construction jobs between 2012 and 2015 were filled by Latino workers. The job fatality rate among Latino workers has declined by 38% since 2001, when the rate of Latino worker fatalities reached its highest (6.0 per 100,000 workers). But Latino workers continue to be at increased risk of death on the job, with a fatality rate that is 9% higher than for workers overall.

The construction industry is the most deadly industry for Latino and immigrant workers, with 29% of all Latino fatalities and 26% of all immigrant fatalities occurring in this sector. Transportation accounts for 9% of Latino job-related deaths, agriculture for 8% and landscaping services for 8%. The number of Latino worker deaths in oil and gas extraction has increased more than 180% in the past five years.

Of all serious injury and illness cases that are reported, 14% are from Latino workers. Latino and immigrant workers often work in occupations with high rates of injury and in work environments where injuries are severely under-reported. For example, in 2015, an estimated 34% of meat and poultry workers were Latino, and the industry has extremely high rates of repetitive strain injuries, cuts and lacerations, falls due to wet working conditions and chemical exposures. Vulnerable workers, like Latino and immigrant workers, fear raising concerns on the job because of fear of retaliation by employers, like being assigned more dangerous work, getting fired or deported. Vulnerable workers often do not speak English, nor are they informed about their rights on the job.

This decline in Latino worker fatalities over the years did not happen by chance. Latino worker and advocacy communities demanded action from policymakers. Targeted programs informed Latino and immigrant workers that they have safety and health rights in the workplace, such as the right to demand protective controls on the job, to report unsafe working conditions and to refuse unsafe work. This increased attention also led to protective regulations and increased accessibility to training and materials in Spanish. But much more work remains to be done.

What can be done to protect Latino and immigrant working people on the job? We can:

  • Focus on high hazard industries with high Latino and immigrant worker populations;
  • Improve rights for all working people and strengthen collective bargaining laws;
  • Advance immigrant rights so all working people have full workplace protection; and
  • Strengthen whistle blower and anti-retaliation protections for reporting job injuries and hazards.

Read more about Latino and immigrant worker safety and health issues in the 2016 AFL-CIO's Death on the Job report.

New Minimum Wage Rules Announced

Last Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor and Industries’ (BOLI) announced new rules for Oregon’s minimum wage. Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain released the following statement in response to the new rules:

“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.”

Weekly Update: Solidarity with Orlando

Solidarity with Orlando

National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre released the following statement in response to the murder of 49 people at Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida:

Bayard Rustin said to be afraid is to behave as if the truth were not true. We in the labor movement are not afraid. We are resolved to do everything in our power to make sure this never happens again. The truth as we know it is both devastating and infuriating. Forty-nine souls were lost in a cowardly act of violence. These are our brothers, sisters and friends. At least one was our member.

For the LGBTQ community, clubs like Pulse are a space where people can feel safe and be their true selves. Sunday’s horrific act is a reminder of how fragile that safety can be. While we have made undeniable progress toward equality, too many in our country still face derision, discrimination and violence. These flames of hatred have been fanned by those in public life who want to marginalize an entire group of people for political gain. It’s despicable and it must stop.

But this was more than just an attack on the LGBTQ community. The victims were overwhelmingly young and Latino. Sunday’s massacre was an assault on everything our movement stands for: equality, justice, solidarity and inclusion.

It was also an extraordinarily difficult situation for our first responders, who had the traumatic job of sorting the dead from the living, effectively working in a war zone. We thank the police, firefighters and health care providers who saved lives and continue to care for the injured. We will stand with them in the trying days ahead.

Labor is one big family, made up of people of all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations and gender identities. As a family, we will work to provide comfort to our brothers and sisters in Orlando and across the United States. And we will make it our daily mission to ensure America’s workplaces and union halls are safe and free from bigotry.

There will be some who try to use this tragedy to further divide us, to pit communities against each other and scapegoat entire faith traditions. Let us be perfectly clear: giving in to division and fear will only add insult to injury. This is a moment for us to come together, embrace our common humanity and take the necessary steps to make our country safer, stronger and more united.

In Portland, union members will participate in the annual Portland Pride Parade on Sunday, June 19th to show our solidarity with the LGBTQ movement and to send the message that working people are united against hate. If you’re interested in joining us, please click here for information about where to meet up.

Stand Up for Union Jobs at
Nabisco / Mondelez

Tomorrow, June 16 at 10:00am, union members and activists will rally outside of the Mondelez Plant in North Portland in support of keeping Nabisco products made in the United States. Click here to learn more about the event.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Crew Ratifies Contract!

The run crew of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) voted 61-0 Monday night in favor of ratifying their first-ever union contract.  

The contract is the culmination of 665 days of joining in union among the crew members, who provide all stage operations, wardrobe, hair and wig, lighting, video, and sound services for the festival, which was founded in 1935. Effective June 13, 2016, to November 14, 2019, the contract will provide the crew improved wages, job security with full-time work and a defined disciplinary procedure, protected benefits, increased vacation and sick time, and a labor management committee.

“We work alongside some of the best technicians in the industry, and for one of the best theatres in the country,” said Amanda Sager, OSF Sound Engineer. “Through this process we’ve worked together to create an environment which allows and encourages every employee to do their best work, and every patron to have the best possible experience.”

With the ratification of the contract, the women and men of the OSF show run crew will form the new IATSE Local 154, chosen for the number of William Shakespeare’s collection of sonnets. IATSE Local 154 was the Seattle-based projectionist local from 1908 to 1999, and the local number will be carried on by sisters and brothers that spoke up together to create a better workplace.

The OSF crew were indivisible throughout the entire organizing and negotiating process. The negotiating team for the entertainment workers consisted of representatives from each of the festival’s nine backstage departments: Jack Buckley (Stage Operations); Cara Wade and Courtney Cunningham (Wardrobe); Rosey Johnson and Devon Ash (Hair and Wigs); Maria Chunn and Sarah McKenney (Lighting); and Amanda Sager and Valerie Lawrence (Sound).

“The crew became more unified through the process of negotiating of the contract knowing that it would result in fairness and equity for all,” said IATSE International Representative Christopher “Radar” Bateman.

Are you Registered?

Don't miss out on the Oregon Strong Voice Summit and LERC/AFL-CIO Summer School!  Click here to register for the Summit and click here for Summer School.

Weekly Update: Dangerous Facts

Register Now for Summer Events!

Don't miss out on the Oregon Strong Voice Summit and LERC/AFL-CIO Summer School!  Click here to register for the Summitand click here for Summer School.

Workers at Portland Public Schools Respond to Water Crisis: “Dangerous facts have been hidden from all of us”

In response to the escalating lead exposure crisis and new reports of radon exposure at Portland Public Schools, Belinda Reagan, the president of Portland Federation of School Professionals (PFSP), Local 111, AFT-Oregon, AFL-CIO, issued a statement last week:

“Parents are calling for Superintendent Carole Smith to resign, and I don’t blame them,” said Reagan. “Our primary concern is for our city’s children, and I have similar worries for our school workers, who feel deceived. Dangerous facts have been hidden from all of us. We have grave concerns that we’re not working in safe, healthy schools.”

Oregon Public Broadcasting

PFSP represents over 1,400 classified employees at Portland Public Schools, including secretaries, paraeducators, educational assistants, physical and occupational therapists, security agents, sign language interpreters, and dozens of other employee groups.

Responding to the placing on leave of two senior officials, Reagan called for full accountability from the top down. “We’re in a crisis of confidence. This pattern of avoidance, half-measures, and dangerous silence is all too typical of upper management. They seem to believe that if you hide problems, they’ll go away.”

Reagan expressed solidarity with worried parents and agreement with recent public comments by Gwen Sullivan, president of the Portland Association of Teachers, that have been critical of PPS leadership.

“PFSP is not taking this information lightly. We are alarmed for the health and safety of students in our care, and we are distressed that district employees have been kept in the dark regarding these findings and exposed to tainted water and air.”

“Students, parents, staff, and faculty—we’re all in this together. We all need a safe place to work and learn. We don’t deserve to be poisoned. We demand the full, immediate truth about our level of exposure, now, and everything that’s happened on Superintendent Smith’s watch.”

Tentative Agreement Reached at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Yesterday at 4am the crew of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival reached a tentative agreement of their contract! Thank you to everyone who participated in sending letters and showing support. It’s been a long process, taking 659 days from the initial meeting to the tentative agreement.  

If the contract is ratified, the OSF crew will be sworn-in as the new IATSE Local 154 (If you’re a Shakespeare buff, you might recognize 154 as the total number of sonnets penned by the Bard.)

Click here to see the latest from the crew at OSF.

Pride Month: Why Working People in Unions Are Fighting LGBTQ Discrimination at Work

This article originally appeared at the AFL-CIO Now Blog

The strongest protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer working people are found in a union contract. Working people in unions have fought hard to make sure that employers cannot discriminate against people. This includes helping pass laws that protect LGBTQ working people, especially transgender people.

Transgender people are individuals whose gender identity and expression differs from what’s socially expected of the sex they were assigned at birth. This includes people who identify as men or women, as well as genderqueer and gender nonconforming individuals, who experience a gender identity that falls outside of the traditional male-female binary.

Many transgender people transition to live their everyday life as the gender they identify with. Transitioning is a different process for everyone—it may involve social changes (such as going by a new first name), medical steps and changing identification documents—and many transgender people cannot or do not wish to go through any changes at all.

Unfortunately, because many workplaces have separate restroom facilities for men and women, questions can arise from management, co-workers and clients about which facilities certain employees should use. This can create a hostile environment, not just for visibly transgender people, but for anyone who does not fit neatly into strict male or female gender presentations. Imagine a woman, who is not transgender, being questioned in the women’s restroom for wearing coveralls and having short hair. How others perceive her should not make her open to harassment.

In fact, employers have a legal duty to protect all their employees, regardless of whether or not they conform to gender stereotypes, from any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite. This includes making sure that all employees, including transgender employees, have access to restrooms that correspond best to their gender identity. Restrictions that prevent employees from using the restroom that is consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety.

A person who is transgender should be allowed to determine the most appropriate and safest restroom option. No employee should be required to use a segregated facility apart from other employees because of their gender identity or transgender status. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards provide similar guidance because employees should never have to use facilities that are an unreasonable distance or travel time from the worksite, which may cause significant health problems.

A strong union contract should protect transgender working people at every point of their transition. Work with your local union leadership to ensure your contract fully includes LGBTQ workers and families in every aspect, from general workplace non-discrimination to family benefits. And, of course, our LGBTQ constituency group, Pride At Work, is an excellent resource for assistance on this or any other issue that pertains to LGBTQ working people.

Hello, World!

Weekly Update: Workers Win Big

Verizon Workers Win Big

Workers represented by CWA and IBEW are back on the job today, following a landmark agreement reached between the unions and Verizon in one of the largest strikes in recent history.

CWA President Chris Shelton explained the importance of the agreement in a recent statement:

“CWA appreciates the persistence and dedication of Secretary [of Labor Thomas] Perez, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director Allison Beck and their entire teams. The addition of good new jobs at Verizon is a huge win not just for striking workers, but for our communities and the country as a whole. This contract is a victory for working families across the country and an affirmation of the power of working people. It proves that when we stand together, we can raise up working families, improve our communities and advance the interests of America’s working people.”

Statements released by IBEW leaders echoed the sentiment: this agreement is a step forward for working people.

“This agreement will keep good middle-class Verizon jobs here in America, while getting our members back to work serving the consumer,” said Boston Local 2222 Business Manager Myles Calvey, who chairs IBEW System Council T-6, which represents IBEW Verizon workers throughout New England.

“This was the major issue for my members: protecting American jobs and keeping them here at home,” said East Windsor, N.J., Local 827 Business Manager Robert Speer, who represents IBEW Verizon employees in New Jersey. “This agreement makes a lot of progress in reversing the outsourcing trend.”

The agreement and campaign to bring fairness to Verizon was especially important to Christina Martina, who works at a call center in Pennsylvania:

“Because we fought together as a union, my kids will be able to see me at night. We were all so worried about the potential of transfers and more offshoring, but now Verizon is going to bring more jobs back. All American companies should be doing more to keep good jobs in the country.”

Click here to learn about the details of the agreement and read more statements from labor leaders.

RubberWorkers Win in McMinnville

Our friends over at Northwest Labor Press reported some great news yesterday from McMinnville: Over 60 workers at Ultimate RB, a rubber recycling factory, have voted to stand together as a union and will be represented by the United Steelworkers!

Get the details about the campaign at Northwest Labor Press.

Stand with Oregon Shakespeare Festival Workers

Stagehands working at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland need your help:

“The run crews at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival believe in the power of working together to create a stronger community.   What started as a small group concerned about arbitrary changes in working conditions has since spanned into a larger vision of creating a more enriching, thriving environment for our technicians. We view this as a chance to improve the lives of the often unseen men and women in the Lighting, Sound, Stage Operations, Wardrobe, and Wig & Hair departments.”

“We are the backstage artists who skillfully replace the magnificent tin wall of Guys and Dolls with the turntable floor for Fingersmith within two hours between performances. We are the craftspeople who perfectly balance live music and dialogue in shows like Into The Woods. We perform the intricate choreography that allows an actor in The Unfortunates or All The Way to leave the stage in one costume and, like magic, return in another only thirty seconds later.  We are the ones who stir your soul with the beautiful lighting in the Pericles storm. We all work together to make sure patrons have the best possible experience at our theatre. Now, by forming a local union with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), we want to work together to make sure we succeed at OSF.”

“We’re proud of the work we do as a company and as artists, but it comes at a price. The unfortunate reality is that many of us on run crew use food stamps and the food bank to provide for our families. We have to access public assistance for health care. Many of us have to choose between contributing to our retirement or paying our electric bill, we have to fight to find housing we can afford in Ashland, and have to choose between paying our medical bills or our rent.”

“By speaking up together, we’re striving to create a system that allows us to thrive, not to just barely survive, while doing the work we love for this company we love. In order to achieve this, there’s much more to consider than just our hourly rate. With the random and ever-changing performance schedule at OSF, a guarantee of full time hours and appropriate minimum shift guarantees will help us create the job security we desperately need. They will allow us to focus on the magic that OSF has to offer the community.”

Please show your support for the run crew by signing this petition to OSF Executive Director Cynthia Rider, and Director of Production Alys e. Holden.

It’s Getting Hot!

The thermostat is rising across most of Oregon, and that means two things: remember to work safe if your job is outdoors and remember to use union-made products for your barbecues and cookouts once the job is done.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has an easy to use toolkit for workers and employers. Click here to check it out and remember the three essentials to working safe in the heat: water, shade, and rest.

And after work, whether you’re a propane enthusiast or a charcoal puritan, make sure you’re putting union-made products on the grill and union-made drinks in the cooler.


Click here for a shopping list and click here to share the list with your friends on Facebook or Twitter.

Weekly Update: Summer Events You Won’t Want to Miss

Oregon Strong Voice Summit
& AFL-CIO Summer School

Get ready for a weekend of solidarity, sharing knowledge, and planning for the future! July 29-31 in Eugene is full of events you won’t want to miss.

Oregon Strong Voice Summit

Oregon Strong Voice is a statewide network of regional alliances between labor unions and community-based organizations. We work together to maximize our collective power at the grassroots level so that we can build a stronger Oregon.

Since our last summit in 2014, we’ve been working at the local level on issues ranging from affordable housing, income inequality, and removing barriers to employment, to fighting anti-immigrant and anti-worker attacks. We’ve also had successes electing strong progressive candidates to local offices.

This summit will be a unique opportunity to convene labor and community partners from throughout the state to share skills and experiences, learn from experts, and re-energize for a vigorous election season and beyond. There is no cost to attend the summit.

Workshops include:

  • Evicting the Housing Crisis
    Exploring opportunities for strategic innovation in housing policy throughout Oregon
  • Building Power Through the Ballot Box
    Fighting the anti-worker and anti-immigrant ballot measures in 2016
  • Trail Blazing
    Grass roots power building for campaigns outside of the Portland metro area
  • Meaningful Coalitions
    What do strong partnerships between racial justice non-profits and labor look like?

Click here to register online, read descriptions of workshops, and more.

LERC’s AFL-CIO Summer School  

The Summer School program is designed for labor union members and members of organizations working to promote a strong organized labor and worker justice movement. The 2016 AFL-CIO Summer School will focus on how we build strong unions and a strong movement for social change.

Join us for workshops on:

Steward Skills, workplace organizing & labor history

New this year: Community strategies for winning affordable housing; inspiring members through music, art, and grassroots digital story telling; and tools to address racial and gender justice.

Click here to read complete course descriptions and to register online.

A Better Oregon Moving Forward

The campaign to make the world’s largest corporations pay their fair share is moving forward in Oregon.  

Last week, the A Better Oregon campaign turned in over 85,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Click here to get the scoop and learn more about the campaign.

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

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.

Click here to read the International Trade Commission’s report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Weekly Update: Primary Election Results

Oregon Primary Election Results

Oregon AFL-CIO endorsed candidates did well in yesterday’s election, see the list below to see who won yesterday.
For all other races, please click here to see the results, and click here to read a breakdown of the union members who won their races.

NOTE: Oregon House District 43, where we endorsed Roberta Phillip-Robbins, remains too close to call at this time.


  • Oregon Governor: Kate Brown
  • Oregon Attorney General: Ellen Rosenblum
  • Oregon State Treasurer: Tobias Read

State Senate

  • SD 22: Lew Frederick

State House

  • HD 8: Paul Holvey
  • HD 13: Nancy Nathanson
  • HD 16: Dan Rayfield
  • HD 20: Paul Evans
  • HD 22: Teresa Alonso Leon
  • HD 27: Sheri Malstrom
  • HD 31: Brad Witt
  • HD 33: Mitch Greenlick
  • HD 35: Margaret Doherty
  • HD 36: Jennifer Williamson
  • HD 42: Rob Nosse
  • HD 44: Tina Kotek
  • HD 45: Barbara Smith Warner
  • HD 47: Diego Hernandez
  • HD 49: Chris Gorsek
  • HD 50: Carla Piluso

Expanding Overtime

President Obama and the US Department of Labor unveiled new rules today that will make millions more people eligible to receive overtime pay. The new rules reflect a nation-wide effort spearheaded by the AFL-CIO, including gathering 25,000 signatures on a petition calling for overtime expansion. Here’s what you need to know about why these rules matter to working people:

1. Working people needs a raise.  

Working families are struggling to pay the bills and the middle class is shrinking. Working people have helped corporations rack up record profits, but we are not sharing in the benefits.

2. Restoring overtime is necessary to ensure that working people get paid for all the hours we work.

One of the reasons why paychecks keep falling behind is because too many people can be forced to work overtime at no extra pay. Under the new rules, more people will get paid time-and-a-half whenever we work more than 40 hours in a week.

3. Restoring overtime will give millions of families a pay raise.  

Restoring overtime is the single most significant step the administration can take to boost wages for working people. If the new rules are what they are rumored to be, 4.2 million people will be newly eligible for overtime pay and another 8.9 million people who are already eligible will be able to prove their eligibility more easily. Restoring overtime will help working families climb the economic ladder and break into the middle class—especially women, African Americans, Latinos and millennials.

4. Restoring overtime will create jobs and increase the hours for people who work part-time.  

Even opponents of restoring overtime admit it will create more jobs. To get around paying time-and-a-half, many employers will choose to hire new employees—or allocate more hours to their part-time workers—and pay them straight time.

5. Restoring overtime will help the economy grow.

Restoring overtime will put more money in the pockets of working people, and we will spend that money in our communities and set in motion a virtuous circle of more investment and more hiring. It’s working people, not the wealthy few, who drive economic growth.

6. Overtime protections have eroded since 1975.

The whittling away of overtime protections is one of the ways the rules of our economy have been rewritten to favor corporations over working families. Even with these new rules, the share of people who are automatically eligible for overtime pay (regardless of their job duties) will still be lower than it was in 1975.

7. Restoring overtime will give people more time away from work.

There is overwhelming evidence that overtime protection is effective in preventing overly long work days. Under the new rules, fewer people will be forced to work long overtime hours for no extra pay. Reducing excessive hours will make working people healthier and more productive.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement today in response to this important news:

“New overtime protections mark a major victory for working people that will improve the lives of millions of families across America. The new rule more than doubles the salary threshold, ensuring workers who make less than $47,500 are eligible for overtime. We applaud the Obama Administration heeding the call for action to ensure working people get paid for all the hours we work. Taking this step to restore overtime is one of the many ways we are beginning to change the rules of our economy that are rigged in favor of Wall Street.

The fight for even stronger overtime protections and to raise wages for all working people continues. But today, millions of workers will receive a long overdue raise, healthier and more productive jobs, and more time to spend with our community and loved ones.

American CEOs Make 335 Times More than the Average Worker?!

335. In 2015, the CEO's of America's largest companies made 335 times the average American worker.

We don't know about you, but to us, that seems extreme, especially when so many working families are struggling to put food on the table. Frankly that's just wrong.

These high paid CEOs feed off of the low wage economy, and in some ways are compensated for creating it. Some CEOs are rewarded for outsourcing good jobs to countries with weak workplace rights and poverty wages. They get millions in bonuses for shifting taxable income to island nations. We pay our fair share in taxes so why shouldn’t multinational companies? In fact, the tax burden has shifted dramatically in recent decades and the burden is on us. By exploiting loopholes in the tax code, these multinationals leave our community budgets starved. We shouldn’t have to worry about water cleanliness, bridge safety or if our public schools have the resources they need to educate our children.

Check out paywatch.org. You'll see how CEOs take advantage of loopholes for their own selfish gain. And you’ll meet Mary, who has held several jobs that ended up outsourced to other countries, and the CEOs who employ these community damaging tactics.

Weekly Update: One Step Closer


Ballots are due on Tuesday, May 17th by 8pm. The last day to mail your ballot is tomorrow, May 12th.

After tomorrow, you’ll need to take your ballot to an official drop box – click here to find the closest one to you.

PSU Graduate Assistants File for Union Recognition

Last week, our friends over at the Northwest Labor Press reported some amazing news from Portland State University: Nearly 800 graduate students are one big step closer to forming their union on campus after filing for recognition last week!

The next step will be for the Oregon Employment Relations Board to double check authorization cards and certify the union. Once that’s done, the students will begin preparations to negotiate their first contract.  

In February, we wrote about why the students organized:

"As an instructor, I throw myself into the planning, grading, and leading of my classes," said Jane Carr, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Hatfield School of Government. "My students are very important to me, and I've often put them before everything else in my life. To make this sacrifice and earn take home pay of only a few hundred dollars a month after paying for fees and health insurance is not sustainable or just. That's why we're standing together seeking the right to negotiate with PSU about how we're treated at work."

Support Verizon Workers on Strike

The strike at Verizon continues, with actions happening across the country in solidarity. The striking CWA and IBEW members need your help to keep up the pressure on Verizon, and to support the families of the strikers who have been cut off from their healthcare benefits as a result of the dispute.

Here’s what you can do to help:

Saying NO to Big Money Extremism

An increased minimum wage. Paid sick leave. Expanded voter access. Access to reproductive health care. These are just some of the victories that we helped Oregon win in the last year. Not only that, but we’ve been pioneers, leading the way and inspiring other states to follow suit.

Not everyone agrees that these are victories to be proud of.

Hate groups, conservative interests and out-of-state millionaires like Loren Parks want to roll back the progress we’ve made. Even worse, they want to stop us from building on that progress.

These special interests are coming after Oregon with a slew of destructive measures for the November 2016 ballot. They’re attacking Oregon workers, immigrant communities, women, and even our democracy. They’re pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into these measures and, because they can’t get citizens to help, they’ve already resorted to hiring hundreds of paid signature gatherers to qualify their measures.

They may have big money, and they’ve cleverly hidden their attacks, but that doesn’t mean they have the support of Oregon voters. That’s why we’re working to Defend Oregon’s Ballot and stand up to big money special interests and stop them in their tracks.

If we want to make sure Oregon continues to be a leader when it comes to progressive policies, we can’t let out-of-state millionaires like Loren Parks have their way. We need to say NO to their extremist agenda — and we need to make sure our friends, family and co-workers know about it, too.

Over the next two months, Defend Oregon’s Ballot will be sharing information about the harmful initiatives and what they mean for Oregon, as well as who is behind each one. We hope you’ll follow along. Most importantly, we hope you’ll take the pledge to defend Oregon’s ballot.