Attacks on Healthcare Come to Oregon
We've talked a lot over the past six months about resisting attacks on working people here in Oregon. This legislative session, we did just that — and more. From protecting healthcare for 375,000 low-income Oregonians to ensuring fair scheduling for workers to expanding and protecting collective bargaining rights of workers throughout the state, Oregon’s unions have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of working people.
While corporations blocked our chance at winning game-changing revenue for schools and vital services, the incredible progress we did make sent a clear message: Here in Oregon, we resist by taking action and securing victories for working people. The fight, however, is far from over.
Just last week, a referendum was filed designed to jeopardize healthcare for 375,000 Oregonians and raise premiums for another 200,000. The attack on the Oregon Healthcare Protections Bill would devastate working people and our families throughout the state. Taking healthcare away from low-income Oregonians is a political maneuver straight out of the same playbook behind efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress.
We can't afford this Trump-style healthcare rollback in Oregon. We know that when families lose access to care, they are forced to make devastating decisions about their health and their finances. Oregon's economy is on the line, too: When more Oregonians go uninsured, that drives up hospital costs and leads to higher premiums for all of us.
Oregonian columnist Steve Duin published an article on July 7 about a situation that far too many working people have found themselves in: their paycheck isn’t enough to keep up with the rapidly rising cost of living across Oregon – in particular housing. Duin’s article profiles the struggle of Brice Clagett, who (at the time of the July 7 article) worked two jobs to afford a place to live:
“His last two-week paycheck from Kenny & Zuke's was, after taxes, $678.05, or just enough to cover that final rent payment. He has no health insurance: "I had to decide if Kaiser Permanente needed my money, or Sprint." He's embarrassed and, yes, discouraged.”
Duin’s next article in The Oregonian on July 11 shocked readers: Brice had been fired from his job at Kenny and Zuke’s. It’s a complex situation, and one which Duin outlines well in his July 11 article. The response since being posted online has been swift: many longtime customers of the iconic Portland delicatessen aren’t spending another dime there.
If you stand with Brice, please consider posting Duin’s July 11 article using the hashtag #BoycottKennyandZukes.
- July 17: Oregon Women Labor Leaders Meeting in Portland
- July 19: DCTU Rally in Portland
- July 26: Save the Postal Service Rally in Portland
President Donald Trump chose two nominees for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) whose commitment to the freedom of working people to come together and negotiate is seriously in doubt. These two men, Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel, have a terrible record of actively trying to strip working people of their freedoms.
Republicans are rushing to get these nominations through, but it is imperative that the Senate use upcoming hearings and meetings to find out whether these nominees will side with working people or the richest 1% of Americans. NLRB decisions and actions have a real impact on the lives of working people, particularly the ability to join together with co-workers to advocate for positive change.
Emanuel, a member of the staunchly anti-worker Federalist Society, has extensive experience representing employers in collective bargaining, union elections and unfair labor practice proceedings under the National Labor Relations Act. He recently filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that employers should be allowed to require employees to waive their right to file class-action lawsuits or any other method of joining with others in seeking relief for rights violations. Emanuel has directly worked on numerous issues currently before the NLRB, raising serious questions about his ability to be impartial on those cases.
Kaplan hasn’t ever practiced labor law. His only related experience is in staffing a couple of committees in Congress and helping run a series of oversight hearings criticizing the NLRB under President Barack Obama. He drafted legislation to overturn several NLRB actions that strengthened the freedom of working people to join together. Like Emanuel, Kaplan has actively worked on numerous issues he would have to rule on if confirmed to the NLRB, calling into question his own impartiality on those cases.