The Union Advantage

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update: The Union Advantage
March 20, 2019

Speaking Up in Salem: 2019 Labor Lobby Day Recap

On Tuesday, dozens of union members from across the state gathered in Salem for the 2019 Oregon AFL-CIO Labor Lobby Day. We were joined by Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Oregon Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle, House Speaker Tina Kotek, and State Senator Kathleen Taylor. Union members met with their legislators to discuss a wide range of legislation to help build a pathway to prosperity for working people in Oregon.

We are thankful for each and every member who took time out of their busy week to join us in Salem, and to the advocates and leaders who joined us for our panel discussion to brief participants on a wide range of exciting legislative priorities.

Here are three ways to get involved with Oregon labor’s efforts in Salem:

SHARE YOUR STORY: The voices of victims of sexual harassment and discrimination must be heard by lawmakers. The Oregon Workplace Fairness Act (SB 726 / HB 3333) has had a hearing in the Senate Workforce Committee but we need to keep pushing to make sure this important bill becomes a law. Please share your story today, either anonymously or under your name to help pass this important legislation.

TAKE ACTION: It’s time to speak up and help pass the Oregon Workplace Fairness Act, a bill which modernizes sexual harassment and discrimination protections to put the power into workers’ hands. Take action today and write your legislator.

SUPPORT PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE: Oregon lawmakers are considering House Bill 3031, the FAMLI Equity Act. It is long past time that Oregonians have paid family and medical leave, and this could finally be the year lawmakers level the playing field so that all workers can give or get the care they need without risking their financial stability. That’s why we need you to be part of our fight. Join us and Time to Care Oregon at a public hearing on the FAMLI Equity Act.
When: Monday March 25th at 6pm
Where: The Galleria in the Oregon State Capitol (900 Court St NE, Salem, OR 97301)

Women of Labor

In the latest issue of the Northwest Labor Press, Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain writes about the contributions in history and today by women to raise the standards for unions and workers’ rights:

“Today’s labor movement and the rights working people enjoy would not be what they are without the contributions of strong, fearless women. They blazed the trail, and some of the most inspiring acts of courage and determination have come from women fighting for working people to have dignity and a bigger piece of the economic pie.”

Click here to read the full article.

The Union Advantage

A new report from the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center shows that unions in Oregon raise wages, improve health and pension benefits, reduce overall income inequality, and significantly decrease racial and gender inequalities. Oregon unions also make it much less likely that workers will need to rely on public benefits such as food stamps or welfare.

All other things being equal, the authors find that Oregon workers covered by a union contract:

  • Earn 11% more than non-union workers;
  • Are 17.5% more likely to get health insurance through their job;
  • Are 41% more likely to have an employer-provided retirement plan;
  • Are 35.3% less likely to have family members who rely on public safety net programs;
  • Are 33.8% less likely to belong to a low-income family.

Being covered by a union contract adds an average of $4,701 per year to each worker’s annual income. The authors estimate that unions increased the overall income of working Oregonians by a total of almost $1.4 billion in 2017. Click here to download "The Union Advantage."

Take Action for Fair Trade

President Donald Trump has signed the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, or USMCA. It’s supposed to replace the old North American Free Trade Agreement, which he called “the worst trade deal” this country has ever seen.

But guess what? As far as working families are concerned, the USMCA is just more of the same.

We can do better: Tell Congress to refuse to vote on the new NAFTA until it is fixed.

The “new” USMCA fails to raise wages. It also locks in high U.S. medicine prices. Big Pharma rigged the rules: NAFTA 2.0 guarantees extended monopoly rights for pharmaceutical corporations to block generic competition. This would tie the hands of Congress to change the policies that lead to high drug prices, both now and in the future.

It’s not just about us—a better NAFTA could protect working people in the United States, Canada and Mexico by guaranteeing decent wages, reining in high drug prices, ensuring the freedom to join a union, and by standing up to corporate greed. Take action today.