Weekly Update: A Dangerous Agenda

A Dangerous Agenda:
Congressman Walden & the ACA

The Congressional Budget Office weighed in on the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Card Act, the “American Health Care Act.” On Monday, Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain issued a response:

“The Congressional Budget Office’s report shows what many of us already suspected: It’s not about helping more people find coverage, it’s about putting more money into the pockets of the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.   24 million Americans stand to lose insurance coverage because of this plan, and lost insurance coverage equals debt, sickness, and worse for too many working people.

It’s inconsistent with the promises we have heard from the President, who called for lower premiums and for everyone to have insurance as part of a repeal to the Affordable Care Act. Already, we see House Speaker Ryan and others doing everything they can to discredit the CBO’s findings, but the numbers do not lie: 24 million people is an unmistakably serious consequence of an agenda designed to widen the gap between the wealthy and the poor in this country. Oregon’s unions will continue to do everything we can to call attention to and oppose this dangerous agenda.”

Oregon Congressman Greg Walden has been at the center of the efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, even though residents in his district overwhelmingly benefit from it. At the same time, Congressman Walden has been notably absent from town hall meetings in his district.

It’s time to take action.

Need more info about why the ACA repeal is a bad idea for working people? Click here.

Rep. Steve King and the Racist Origins of So-Called ‘Right to Work’

This article originally appeared on Labor’s Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

Controversial Iowa Rep. Steve King is once again in hot water for espousing racist, white nationalist views, tweeting that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” He doubled down on his bigoted words over the weekend telling CNN that “I meant exactly what I said.”

King’s latest racist remarks drew praise from Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who tweeted “GOD BLESS STEVE KING,” and sharp rebukes from just about everyone else, including fellow Republicans in Congress and former Gov. Jeb Bush, just to name a few.

While this story is making headlines, there’s been scant attention paid to how King’s policy agenda reflects his white nationalist views. King is the author of the federal bill that would impose a so-called “Right to Work” scheme nationally, which would be devastating to our country’s economy and would hit workers, especially people of color, square in the pocketbook.

Backed by an array of wealthy corporations and secret deep-pocketed donors, these laws have proliferated in Republican-controlled states across the country, leading to lower wages and fewer benefits for not just union workers, but all workers in those states. People of color – particularly women of color – are hit hardest by these laws which fuel income inequality and put their American Dream further out of reach. According to the Economic Policy Institute, wages in so-called “Right to Work” states are 3.2% lower than in non-RTW states. Health insurance and retirement security are scarcer.

So why would any policymaker push legislation that lowers wages? One obvious reason is that big corporations love these laws, because they undercut the ability of working people to stand together in a union to demand fair wages and decent benefits for a hard day’s work. But if you look at the history of these laws, there’s even a more sinister reason behind them: Racism.

Many attacks on labor unions have roots in white supremacism.

University of Arkansas Associate professor Michael Pierce:

So-called Right-to-Work laws originated as means to maintain Jim Crow labor relations and to beat back what was seen as a Jewish cabal to foment a revolution. No one was more important in placing Right-to-Work on the conservatives’ political agenda than Vance Muse of the Christian American Association, a larger-than-life Texan whose own grandson described him as “a white supremacist, an anti-Semite, and a Communist-baiter, a man who beat on labor unions not on behalf of working people, as he said, but because he was paid to do so.”

Which brings us back to King. It’s no coincidence that the most racist member of Congress is also the staunchest supporter of a national “Right to Work” scheme. In the view of King and many other extremists, labor unions must be destroyed because immigrants and people of color have  a better shot at the American Dream when they are able to organize and join unions. Lower wages for everyone, including blue-collar whites, is just collateral damage in King’s view. Supporters of these laws will never admit to the racist origins of “Right to Work.” And they certainly won’t cop to the widening inequality gap these laws create. But make no mistake; racism is central to the hidden agenda.

Supporting national “Right to Work” is tantamount to supporting King’s racist worldview. That’s a message every member of Congress needs to hear.

Oregon Renters Need Stable Homes

Oregon is in a housing crisis; especially when it comes to renters.

Rents are rising much faster than wages for too many Oregonians, and working people are losing their homes through no fault of their own due to the practice of "no-cause evictions."

This has fueled a rapid rise in homelessness, housing instability, and the crushing of dreams for many families. Communities across the state are being impacted, and it will take all of our voices speaking up to bring the change we need to provide stable homes for working Oregonians.

Tell your legislators: it's time to protect working people from losing their homes through no fault of their own.  

Click here to take action and write to your legislators today.