A Pivotal Year

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update: A Pivotal Year
December 19, 2018


Last Podcast Episode of 2018: A Pivotal Year

On our last episode of 2018, Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain and Chief of Staff Graham Trainor sit down to discuss the wins, challenges and lessons learned from 2018 and how unions can tackle the challenges of 2019 while continuing to win for working people. Click here to listen.


Don’t miss an episode of The Voice of Oregon’s Workers, our monthly podcast! Subscribe today on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify.


OHSU Organizing Update

Last week the Portland Mercury reported that Oregon Health and Sciences University may be dropping its objection to graduate researchers’ campaign to form a union:

“In September, OHSU submitted an objection to the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB), the state authority on collective bargaining law. OHSU argued that grad students could not be considered employees paid for their work, despite receiving stipends, and therefore could not qualify for a union. It's an argument that felt wobbly, considering students at other Oregon universities have managed to unionize—in fact, OHSU is the only graduate program in Oregon to not have a recognized union.

The ERB was scheduled to hear OSHU’s objection Wednesday and Thursday, but the hearing was just rescheduled at OHSU’s request. This comes after the grad students and AFSCME put considerable pressure on OHSU, holding a rally on campus and hosting a social media day of action on Dec 5.”


Click here to read the rest of the story, and click here to follow OHSU Graduate Researchers United on Facebook to learn the latest from this exciting and inspiring campaign.


Standing Together at Tesla

About 400 Tesla workers in Buffalo, New York, could soon become card-carrying members of the United Steelworkers (USW) and the Electrical Workers (IBEW). An organizing drive kicked off in freezing temperatures this morning to educate workers coming and going into the plant. “We want to have a voice at Tesla so that we can have a better future for ourselves and our families,” said Aaron Nicpon, a member of the organizing committee.

The USW and IBEW are working with both the production and maintenance employees at the Tesla solar panel factory in a joint organizing drive. The plant is on the site of a former steel mill.

What’s unique about this campaign is that the USW and IBEW have partnered with the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and the Coalition for Economic Justice to promote the importance of unionized green jobs.

“This historic USW site will be the model of how emerging clean technology manufacturing can provide such an opportunity for its workers,” said USW District 4 Director John Shinn.

Tesla promised to create 1,460 jobs in Buffalo, including 500 at this factory, within two years of the site’s completion, in exchange for $750 million from the state of New York.

“I wanted to work at Tesla because I wanted a job in green energy, a job that can change the world,” said Rob Walsh, another member of the organizing committee. “But I also want a fair wage for my work.”


Tesla has an anti-union history. The New York Times Magazine reported on how Tesla CEO Elon Musk tried to butter-up workers with the promise of free frozen yogurt:

“When workers at his Fremont, California, car plant announced their intention to organize with the United Auto Workers in 2017, BuzzFeed News reported that Musk accused one worker of being a “union plant” in an email to staff, and promised to build “a Tesla electric pod car roller coaster” and free frozen-yogurt machines. This did not dissuade Tesla workers from organizing, in Fremont or elsewhere. In fact, if conditions inside the Buffalo facility resemble those at Tesla’s other factories, the USW/IBEW organizing drive looks inevitable.”


Union-Made Toys for Last Minute Holiday Shoppers

Are you a list minute shopper? Here’s a complete guide to union-made holiday gifts to help you support American workers while rushing to finish up your shopping.