Victory in West Virginia

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update: Victory in West Virginia
March 7, 2018

Victory in West Virginia

This is what happens when working people stand together, stand up, and speak out: West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed legislation (which passed West Virginia’s legislature unanimously) yesterday which gave all state employees a 5% pay raise. This comes as a direct result of the heroic teacher strike that lasted nearly two weeks and highlighted the plight of low pay and rising health care costs in the Mountain State.

The victory for teachers and public employees in West Virginia is a true testament to their activism and an important reminder of the power of working people to improve the lives of everyone. Whether it is raising pay, providing quality health care or making our jobs safer, all workers know that when we join together and fight together, we will win together.

The Oregon AFL-CIO is proud to stand in solidarity with the brave teachers in West Virginia. Nothing is more important to our future than the quality of our children’s education. Teachers are the backbone of the education system and deserve the resources needed to inspire the next generation. A top-tier education, in West Virginia, in Oregon, and across America, requires top-tier talent—and that requires an investment in our teachers and classified employees.

Women's History Month

March is Women’s History Month, where we celebrate the leaders, organizers and working women at the heart of the fight for social and economic justice. As women continue to organize, march and run for office in unprecedented numbers, this month is a reminder that the movements for workers’ and women’s rights have always been interwoven.

As AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler told the crowd at Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza on February 24, women would be disproportionately impacted by an anti-worker ruling in Janus v. AFSCME—particularly women of color. About 1.5 million public employees are black women, more than 17% of the public-sector workforce.

For working women, a union card means higher wages, better benefits and more time to spend with their families. Union contracts narrow the gender pay gap, provide protections from harassment on the job and preserve economic security for working families across the country.

Now is the time to fight back and defend the progress secured by past generations—from the textile mill workers in Lowell, Massachusetts, to Mary Harris “Mother” Jones to Dolores Huerta.

Protect Working People with DACA & TPS

Over the past year, the Trump administration has cruelly ended programs that protect more than a million working people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status. DACA and TPS protections help raise the bar by elevating safety conditions and promoting better wages for all working people.

Congress still can take action to ensure members of our unions, our families and our communities do not lose their rights at work. But it won’t extend these programs unless it hears from a lot of us right now. Click here to take action today.

Holding the Line in Salem

On Saturday, the 2018 Oregon Legislature adjourned. We are happy to report that House Bill 4093, a wage/hour and workers compensation exemption for amateur athletes, did not pass. This effort was spearheaded by the Portland Winterhawks ice hockey team in an attempt to legislate their way out of a class action lawsuit where players are attempting to be classified as employees and gained international coverage.  

Thank you to all of our affiliates and partners who worked hard to hold the line for workers' rights and to stop HB 4093 from passing.

Beyond HB 4093, here is a rundown of the bills the Oregon AFL-CIO monitored during session which had the potential to impact working people:

What Passed:

  • SB 1510: Fixes some of the flaws in petition signature collection that Secretary of State Dennis Richardson has enacted during his time in office, making it easier for anti-worker proponents to unscrupulously qualify measures for the ballot.
  • HB 4111: Enables young workers who are benefiting from current DACA protections to apply for a limited term Driver’s License once their DACA Permit expires.
  • HB 4155: Net Neutrality, for Public Bodies. This bill pushes back on the FCC's revocation of net neutrality.
  • SB 5701/SB 5702 : These capital construction bills included investments at the University of Oregon, Oregon State University's Bend expansion, and Eastern Oregon University.

What Didn't Pass:

  • SB 1507/HB 4001: Cap and Invest
  • SB 1561/HB 4131: None of the PERS rollbacks moved forward this session.
  • HB 4160: Paid Family and Medical Leave
  • HB 4154: Wage Payment Accountability
  • HJR 203: HOPE Amendment, would have referred a constitutional requirement stating that healthcare is a right.

Moving forward from the 2018 Legislature, the Oregon AFL-CIO COPE Board voted on endorsements last week.  Click here to see who earned the support of Oregon's union movement.