Committed to Fighting Back

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update: Committed to Fighting Back
February 28, 2018

Committed to Fighting Back

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, which is the latest attack on working people and an attempt to further rig the rules of our economy against us.  Unions are under attack because we raise standards for all workers.  Oregon’s unions are fighting back:  On Monday, the Oregon AFL-CIO, Oregon AFSCME, AFT-Oregon, OEA and SEIU Local 503 issued a joint press release where Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain explains the intent behind the case:  

“Janus is simply another blatant attempt to rig the rules of the economy against working people.  At a time when income inequality is on the rise, rents are getting higher, and healthcare is treated as a privilege of the wealthy, unions remain the single most important tool workers have to achieve economic freedom.  That’s why we are under attack, and that is why we are committed to fighting back and organizing for a brighter future.”  

President Chamberlain was featured in a guest opinion article in the Statesman Journal, where he asks readers an important question:  

“As our nation’s highest court of law considers Janus vs. AFSCME, I urge readers to consider a simple idea: what happens when we stand together? For me, and for the working women and men of the Oregon AFL-CIO, we know that standing together is how we move the ball forward for all working people.  It is through standing together that we find greater strength.  It is through standing together that we raise wages, make progress, and secure economic freedom for more people.”  

Outside of Oregon, working people rallied in cities across the country to stand up for our freedom to stand together.  Click here to learn more.   

America Needs Union Jobs

US Senator Elizabeth Warren and Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman were featured in a guest opinion in the Boston Globe this week, writing about the historical and economic context of the latest assault on working people through Janus:  

As the United States continues to grapple with racial and economic inequality, what was true during [Dr. Martin Luther] King’s time remains true today: When workers come together in a union, they gain power to win better wages and benefits for themselves and their families.  

But over the last several decades, big corporations, billionaires, and their Republican allies in Washington have waged a war on working men and women through brutal anti-union efforts. These powerful interests have run a coordinated campaign in Congress, in state houses, in executive-branch agencies, and in the courts to rig key decisions in favor of employers at the expense of workers.

Click here to read the full article in the Boston Globe.

Why We Organize  

A report this week in the Washington Post examines the rates of homeownership, unemployment and incarceration of African Americans.  The results are staggering and are a poignant reminder of why we organize to build power for working people.  The report states:  

In some cases, African Americans are worse off today than they were before the civil rights movement culminated in laws barring housing and voter discrimination, as well as racial segregation.  

  • 7.5 percent of African      Americans were unemployed in 2017, compared with 6.7 percent in      1968 — still roughly twice the white unemployment rate.  
  • The rate of homeownership, one      of the most important ways for working- and middle-class families to build      wealth, has remained virtually unchanged for African Americans in the past      50 years. Black homeownership remains just over 40 percent, trailing 30      points behind the rate for whites, who have seen modest gains during that      time.  
  • The share of incarcerated      African Americans has nearly tripled between 1968 and 2016 — one of      the largest and most depressing developments in the past 50 years,      especially for black men, researchers said. African Americans are 6.4      times as likely than whites to be jailed or imprisoned, compared with 5.4      times as likely in 1968.  

The good news is that unions can help by providing a pathway to prosperity for ALL working people.  For workers of color, unions close the wage gap. Collective bargaining brings the wages of black workers 14% higher and the wages of Latino workers almost 30% higher.  That's why we organize, and that's why workers stand together.  The report from the Washington Post makes one thing very clear: We have a lot of work to do to build an fair economy that leaves no one behind, but unions in Oregon are working everyday to do exactly that.  

Get Involved:
Filing Deadline for Local Offices is March 6

March 6th is the filing deadline for the May primary for publicly elected office in Oregon.  You can check out who has filed in your county on your county elections website.  One important office that union members can easily run for is precinct committee person.  The time commitment is minimal, but your impact could be huge should your district have to appoint the next state representative or senator.    

As we enter this critical 2018 election cycle, we want to encourage you to sign up as a PCP and get involved with your local Party and government.  If you have questions about filling out the forms, or finding out who has filed locally, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Sara Ryan at the Oregon Labor Candidate School at