Weekly Update: We Are Better Than This

We Are Better Than This

President Trump’s Executive Orders regarding refugees and immigrants have set off a tidal wave of protest, advocacy, and organizing across the country.

Yesterday AFL-CIO President Trumka issued a statement titled “Attacking Immigrants and Refugees Hurts All Working People” where he explains “these Executive Orders are a clear attack on our members, and elevated fear is a direct obstacle to workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively. We call on President Trump to revoke these orders.”

President Trumka’s statement also explains how we, as a nation, are better than this and that we should never turn our backs on those fleeing violence and oppression. He asked that we, as union members, adhere to our core principles of solidarity, dignity, and respect for all working people. And most of all, that we defend all the members of our unions and communities who are being threatened by these Executive Orders.

Our country and our labor movement were founded by immigrants. Labor history teaches us about the struggles, the discrimination, and the violence endured by immigrants from across the world who came here to work – many of them in the factories, fields and mines where pivotal victories for workers’ rights were won. These struggles, this endured discrimination and violence built a foundation for today’s labor movement, and for our country. It’s our duty to stand up to injustice, and to stand up for the rights of all working people.

Are You Ready for the Fight?

The flames of so-called “Right-to-Work” laws have moved quickly in 2017. The fight to protect the right of working people to stand together in strong unions has, until this week, focused in states like Kentucky (where a “Right-to-Work” law was signed into law earlier this month), Missouri and New Hampshire.  

Today, our fight has gone to the national level, as GOP lawmakers introduced anticipated federal “Right-to-Work” legislation. Today’s statement from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka calls out the deceptive nature of this legislation:

“Right to work is a lie dressed up in a feel-good slogan. It doesn’t give workers freedom—instead, it weakens our right to join together and bargain for better wages and working conditions. Its end goal is to destroy unions. Numbers don’t lie. Workers in states with right to work laws have wages that are 12% lower. That’s because unions raise wages for all workers, not just our members.

A recent Pew survey shows that 60% of Americans—an overwhelming majority—support unions. Americans clearly see the value of coming together with their co-workers to tackle inequality. Right to work isn’t the will of the people, it’s legislation pushed on working people by out-of-touch corporations that want to ship jobs overseas, cut health and safety protections, and pay lower wages. This is an attempt by corporate CEOs to further tip the scale even more in their favor, at working people’s expense.

Working people were loud and clear in this past election. We want an economy that works for all, not just corporations. We know we need to rewrite the rules of the economy so that policies like bad trade deals and right to work aren’t the new norm. President Trump has said he supports unions and the people who are our members. He has stood up to corporate Republicans on trade. We call on him to do the same on right to work, and to stand up for every worker’s right to join a union.”

Outside of Congress, the national labor movement is concerned about President Trump’s nomination for Supreme Court. AFL-CIO President Trumka explained why Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination should raise concern for working people.

“His rulings to date raise very serious concerns about where he stands on issues like worker health and safety, equal opportunity in the workplace and the ability of agencies to adopt rules to protect workers’ rights. We will be digging deeper into Judge Gorsuch’s record in the days ahead to see if he meets the high standards that working families deserve.”

All Labor Has Dignity:
A Black History Month Event

On February 15th, the University of Oregon Labor and Education Research Center is hosting a lively facilitated discussion with civil rights activist and trade-unionist leader, William “Bill” Lucy.

Mr. Lucy helped lead and was a voice in the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees for 57 years. As a lifelong labor activist he collaborated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr during the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, Tennessee. Mr. Lucy was a founding member and President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).

The event also includes a viewing of the new short documentary: "Love and Solidarity" directed by Labor historian and filmmaker, Michael Honey.

The event will take place in Portland, with a simulcast at the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. Click here for all the details.