“They Deserve Better”
President Trump announced today that he will issue an order to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military. Pride at Work and the Union Veterans Council issued a joint statement in response:
“Banning transgender Americans from military service is an insult to our troops, the LGBTQ community and our nation’s founding principles. This has nothing do with readiness or unit morale. It’s bigotry masquerading as military strategy.
Make no mistake, transgender Americans have served our country for decades and they’ve done so largely in the shadows. They have fought and died for our freedoms while their country has refused to recognize them for who they are.
And they deserve better from our commander in chief.
Today two service members will stand side by side—one trans and one not—to defend the country they love. They will support each other and the mission at hand.
That’s the greatness of America—troops of every gender, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity banding together for something greater than themselves.
Only 1% of Americans step up and join a branch of the armed services. We should not deny anyone willing to sacrifice life and limb from serving their country.
We call on President Trump to rescind this shameful ban so every transgender patriot can serve proudly and openly.”
Nurses Call for Transparency from Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson
On Monday, the Oregon Nurses Association sent a letter to Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson pointing out the complicated political and financial relationship between the state elections overseer and the chief petitioner of Referendum 301, which is on the streets now for signature gathering. Referendum 301 is the effort to rollback Oregon’s Healthcare Protections bill, which passed a few months ago and provides healthcare coverage for hundreds of thousands of working people.
The chief petitioner of Referendum 301, Julie Parrish, is currently working as a paid political consultant for Dennis Richardson, having received nearly $330,000 from his campaign and payments as recently as July 3, 2017. Parrish also serves as an elected official in the state House of Representatives and has also contributed more than $20,000 to Dennis Richardson’s campaign.
The Secretary of State has essential roles relating to the referendum. His office is responsible for setting the rules for the January special election and overseeing the signature gathering and validation process for the referendum.
The financial and political relationship between these two public officials raised concerns after Dennis Richardson issued a news release last month that echoed Rep. Parrish’s talking points on the timing of the January special election. It is unclear whether Rep. Parrish wrote that release in her role as a consultant.
“We are in an unprecedented situation that raises serious questions about the Secretary of State’s ability to run a fair election. Hundreds of thousands of our patients stand to lose health care with the referendum and hundreds of thousands more will see increased premiums. There is too much at stake to let politics ruin the process,” said Bruce Humphreys, RN, president of ONA’s PAC board. “The best thing for Secretary Richardson to do is to be fully transparent and post every communication and document about the referendum and special election on a website for everyone to see. We would also ask him to consider recusing himself from any future decision-making or statements about these matters.”
National Healthcare Update
The activism of working people helped Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine stand strong for America’s health care, but we can’t let up now. After Vice President Mike Pence broke the Senate tie to allow debate to proceed, Senate leaders today and tomorrow will use every trick they can in a wild attempt to cut taxes for the rich and powerful, and to take health care from millions of working Americans. We must keep making our voices heard.
Some Wins, Some Loses:
Looking Back at the 2017 Legislative Session
Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain’s recent column in the Northwest Labor Press breaks down how Oregon’s working people fared in the 2017 Oregon State Legislature:
“The wins that workers achieved in the 2017 Oregon Legislature set a national tone that the union movement can go on the offensive to improve the lives of workers. But the failure to hold corporations accountable, and balancing budgets on the backs of public employees, are unacceptable. For over 20 years, Oregon governors and legislatures have tried to restructure our tax system to generate revenue to match the needs of our people.”