Weekly Update: Facts Vs. Myths

The Facts About Trade

Earlier this week, union members and fair trade activists from across the country called Congress to flood the phone lines with one message: Stop the TPP. If you didn’t get a chance to call, no worries: Just dial 1-855-856-7545 to get updated information and to be automatically connected with your Congressional Representative.

Why are we fighting so hard against the TPP? It’s not because working people oppose trade, it’s because we oppose free trade agreements, like NAFTA and the TPP, which ship our jobs overseas, lower our wages, and demolish environmental and consumer protections. Let’s look at the facts:

  • The evidence on corporate-driven trade is in: it fails working families. The United States already is a member of an international trade deal known as the World Trade Organization, and a number of smaller deals called free trade agreements (FTAs).
  • In 2015, the U.S. goods and services trade deficit with the world increased more than $20 billion to $531.5 billion. This figure includes goods trade deficits with WTO partner China (a record $365.7 billion) and trade deal partners Canada ($14.9 billion), Mexico ($58.4 billion) and South Korea ($28.3 billion).

Trade deficits cost jobs. It’s as simple as that. But Congress is being asked to approve another trade agreement that incorporates the same failed trade rules we already have. Instead of falling for another deficit-increasing, job-killing, wage-cutting trade deal, let’s stand up and fight against it. If those facts make you angry, do something about it. Call 1-855-856-7545 and let Congress know what you think.

The Myths About Minimum Wage

As the discussion in Salem over raising the minimum wage heats up, it’s important to dispel some of the myths we’re hearing from the opposition.

The biggest myth we hear is that workers who make minimum wage are teenagers who live with their parents. Research shows that nationally, the average minimum wage worker is a 35-year-old woman. Here in Oregon, women make up two-thirds of the low wage workforce. Click here to learn why raising the minimum wage would have a big impact on women and families in Oregon.

PSU Graduate Employees Organizing Update

Last week we wrote about the 800 graduate employees at Portland State University who are fighting to organize a union on campus. Yesterday, our friends at the Northwest Labor Press broke the news that PSU will not intervene with the graduate employees’ efforts to organize, which means the University will essentially follow a state law passed in 2013 that prohibits employers from using public funds to oppose unionization efforts.

Click here to see the latest from NWLP. Want to show support to PSU’s grad students? Sign a petition supporting the union, and “like” the campaign on Facebook.

Union-Made Valentines Day

Why not give your Valentine some union-made sweets this Feb. 14, toast your love with champagne that carries a union label or touch up your pheromones a bit with some smell-good union-made scents?

It turns out there are many union-made treats you can give out on Valentine’s Day. The iconic Necco candy Sweethearts conversation hearts are made by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM). Several familiar sparkling libations such as J. Roget and Tott’s are produced by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

Click here to see a list, courtesy of Labor 411.