State of the Union

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update: State of the Union
January 31, 2018


The Oregon AFL-CIO Responds to the State of the Union Address

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain responded to President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address today:

Last night, President Trump gave an optimistic speech, but his perspective of America is far from the reality of most Americans. The working women and men of our nation are not seeing the same country he described in his speech, thanks to the policies his administration has put forward.

President Trump rightly spoke about our country’s problems in trade policy. Working people are still vulnerable to lopsided deals which increase profits for corporations and leave the rest of us behind, but last night we heard no real solutions to make NAFTA benefit workers. The crisis of outsourcing jobs was mentioned, yet the President’s tax bill encourages corporations to send jobs overseas, worsening the problem. He promised to put America back to work building infrastructure, but the President seeks to spend more on a border wall than investing in all of America’s infrastructure for an entire year. Meanwhile, he is using hardworking DREAMers and Temporary Protected Status recipients as a bargaining chip to fund his wall - all while slashing regulations, which equals denied wages and unsafe working conditions from coast to coast.

I want to extend my gratitude and appreciation to the members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation who hosted DREAMers last night to amplify their struggle and highlight the people impacted by reckless immigration policies. That’s what solidarity looks like.


Senate District 19

The Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington County Commissioners have selected Rob Wager as the successor to State Senator Richard Devlin in Senate District 19. Wagner, a former AFT-Oregon staff member, was endorsed by the Oregon AFL-CIO’s COPE Board late last year. Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain explained why the State Federation stands behind Wagner:

“The Oregon AFL-CIO is proud to stand behind Rob Wagner for State Senate District 19. Rob has spent his career as a strong voice for working people and an advocate for education. He’s the right choice to represent Senate District 19 in Oregon’s legislature.”

Click here for more information about the appointment process in Senate District 19.


I AM 2018

February 1, 1968, was a cold and rainy day in Memphis, Tennessee. AFSCME sanitation workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker, nearing the end of their work day, huddled in the back of their truck to seek shelter from the weather.

Suddenly, the truck’s compacting gears malfunctioned, trapping the men and crushing them to death. One witness to the horrifying scene said, “It looked like the big thing just swallowed” them.

This unspeakable tragedy triggered a strike of the city’s 1,300 sanitation workers. They had warned the city about dangerous equipment, but were ignored. They were fed up with poverty wages and humiliating working conditions. They walked off the job and marched under the proud, defiant banner: I AM A MAN.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Memphis to rally the community and show solidarity with the strikers. At the Mason Temple, headquarters of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), he delivered his famous “Mountaintop” speech. The next evening, he was assassinated as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.


AFSCME and COGIC have launched a new initiative called I AM 2018 to commemorate these historic events and connect them to today’s challenges. On February 1, 2018, 50 years to the day since the accident that killed Echol Cole and Robert Walker, we will observe a moment of silence around the country to honor their memory and sacrifice.

Spread the word and join us, wherever you are, for a five-minute tribute streamed live on Facebook. Reflect on Cole and Walker’s lives and the courage of all the Memphis strikers. And carry forward their legacy by recommitting to the struggle for racial and economic justice.

  • Tune in to AFSCME's social channels for a live broadcast on Thursday, February 1. RSVP here.

To find more ways to participate in the movement, visit I AM 2018.


Reminder: OWLL Gatherings on Feb. 7

Don’t miss the multi-location Oregon Women Labor Leaders (OWLL) Gathering! Join us to discuss how to make sure that our workplaces and unions are safe and inclusive spaces for women! Meetings will include an update on legislative issues of concern to women workers, group reflection on training opportunities, as well as a chance to socialize and meet other women unionists! The event will be held simultaneously in Portland, Eugene and Salem on Wednesday, February 7. Click here for the details.