Leading The Way

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update: Leading the Way
December 13, 2017

Leading the Way:
Safe Workplaces, Safe Unions

The call for safe workplaces has defined 2017. From the #MeToo movement on social media to the Silence Breakers being named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, the national dialogue about sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault has invigorated loud cries for justice and for change. And rightly so. For too long, too many have suffered in silence.

The union movement has work to do to make our unions, events and workplaces safe for all workers which Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain recently wrote about in his guest column in the Northwest Labor Press. We are not immune to the egregious acts which have inspired the nationwide call for change, but together we can make our movement safer. It’s our job as unions to be leaders for equality and justice, and for us to do better to ensure the safety of working people.

In Oregon, we lead the way. That’s why the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board unanimously approved a resolution designed to make our unions as safe as possible for all workers last week. In the months ahead, the Oregon AFL-CIO will work on facilitating and supporting programs to make the Safe Workplaces, Safe Unions resolution a reality for Oregon’s unions. An important component of our work is to collaborate with Oregon Women Labor Leaders to develop training curriculum to help local unions plan their next steps.

Click here to read our Safe Workplaces, Safe Unions resolution and stay tuned for more information about how your union can engage in our efforts to lead the way to justice and safety.

Alabama Fights for Workers

Alabama’s labor movement built the largest labor political program in the state’s history to propel Doug Jones to victory, because we believe he will fight for working families in the U.S. Senate.

“I am so proud of every person who volunteered and worked tirelessly to make this the biggest, most successful political program in the history of our great state,” said Alabama AFL-CIO President and USW 12L member Bren Riley. “Together with the support of so many unions, we turned out union members and households to drive home an incredible win for Alabama’s working families.”

They’re Legalizing Wage Theft

Too many restaurant owners already break the law by stealing tips from their servers. Now the Department of Labor wants to give its blessing to this kind of wage theft.

The Labor Department is moving quickly to establish a new rule that would make tips the property of restaurant owners instead of workers. Last week, President Donald Trump's administration proposed getting rid of an existing rule that makes tips the property of servers that restaurant owners cannot take away.

Under the new proposal, restaurant owners who pay their employees as little as $7.25 per hour could do whatever they want with tips left by customers for waitstaff. Restaurant owners could even keep the tips for themselves.

The federal minimum cash wage for tipped workers—at just $2.13 per hour—is already lower than for other workers. This low subminimum wage means that tipped workers depend on tips for virtually all their take-home pay after taxes, so they receive their take-home pay directly from customers. Not surprisingly, tipped workers have higher rates of poverty, discrimination and sexual harassment. Undocumented and immigrant workers in the restaurant industry are particularly vulnerable to wage theft.

The administration’s proposal would take money out of the pockets of some of the lowest-paid workers in our country and hand it over to restaurant owners, many of them big corporations. Does that sound familiar? This is the same kind of reverse Robin Hood scheme as the disgraceful tax bill now making its way through Congress.

We cannot let them get away with this. The administration is trying to sneak this change through without hearing from workers, customers or even employers who disagree at a time of year when tipped workers are the busiest. The deadline for comments on this proposal is Jan. 4, 2018: Click here to submit a comment, and then join an action in your city.

National Day of Action for NAFTA

A special round of renegotiations of the failed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is happening Dec. 11–16 in Washington D.C.   The original NAFTA agreement was signed 25 years ago, and working families are still feeling the effects of a trade policy crafted by big corporations. We’re joining with our allies across the country for a call-in day to urge Congress to demand that NAFTA renegotiations put working people ahead of corporations.

Make a call urging your representative to prioritize working people over corporations and to demand a NAFTA agreement that raises wages for all workers and holds corporations accountable.

TriMet Approves Contract with Workers

TriMet’s board has unanimously approved a contract between ATU Local 757 and the company today. Local 757 President Shirley Block issued a statement in response to the board's vote:

"We're pleased that TriMet's Board of Directors has voted to ratify this contract, which was overwhelmingly approved by ATU-represented workers late last month. Although we believe this agreement represents a compromise on both sides, it's a major step in the right direction for TriMet's frontline workers. It provides annual pay raises for all ATU-represented workers, helping our members better deal with Portland's skyrocketing cost of living. And critically, it helps some of our retirees over age 65 lower their out-of-pocket health care costs by moving them to a health care plan with flat co-pays. This is a win for our community, a win for workers, and a win for the company."

Support Precision Castparts Structurals Workers
& New Seasons Workers Next Week

Don’t miss these important events next week in Portland:

Rally to Support Precision Castparts Structurals Workers
Monday, December 18, 2017, 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
5001 Southeast Johnson Creek Blvd in Milwaukie
Please show up any time during the rally to support our brothers and sisters who deserve honor, respect and union recognition from PCC. The International Association of Machinists has been certified by the NLRB as the bargaining agent. It is past time for PCC to allow their employees the right to join the IAM without coercion and interference and to respect their rights under the National Labor Relations Act!
Click here for more information.

Rally for Fairness & Freedom of Association
Rally to support New Seasons Workers United
Tuesday, December 19 at 4pm, Location TBD
Join New Seasons Workers United and community supporters to rally for fairness and freedom of association.
Click here for more information and to RSVP.

Yes for Healthcare: Help Pass Measure 101!

Oregon nurses like Margaret Ngai support Measure 101 because they know that no matter who you are, you need to be able to receive care when you're sick – without worrying if it’ll bankrupt you.

If you agree with nurses like Margaret, it’s time to speak out and encourage other Oregonians to vote yes on Measure 101. Click here to RSVP for a Yes for Healthcare event near you.