Not Amused

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update: Not Amused
June 19, 2019

PERS Betrayal

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain penned a scathing response to the Oregon Legislature’s attack on public workers’ retirement benefits, which will be published in the Northwest Labor Press. The article is available online, and lays out the Oregon Labor Movement’s perspective:

“I don’t believe in exclusive support of political parties. Organized labor should support those who support workers, and hold those accountable who side with a corporate capitalist agenda at the expense of workers. But there was a wrong and a betrayal done to Oregon workers in 2019 that is so heinous it would be wrong to look the other way for the sake of future agendas.”

Click here to share the article on Facebook.


Today we celebrate Juneteenth, the day we celebrate the emancipation from slavery in the United States. Our own Senator Jeff Merkley shared his perspective on Juneteenth today:

“In 1853, abolitionist minister Theodore Parker delivered a sermon that I find myself thinking about today. He said, "I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see, I am sure it bends towards justice." Today, we know Parker's words through the more concise words of another: Martin Luther King, Jr.

As communities across the country join together today to commemorate Juneteenth and the freeing of the final remnants of slavery in the United States (several years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation), we must remind ourselves that progress and freedom and change do not come easily, even when they are in the absolute right. Systems of inequality and inequity resist change with all their might, and those in power do not like to see their power wane. Justice is not a foregone conclusion. It is the end point that we must constantly push towards, and that we will reach only through dogged and unrelenting determination.

There are many wrongs remaining to right. May we take today to celebrate how far we've come and how hard so many have fought, and center ourselves for the struggles still ahead.”

“Not Amused:” UFCW Local 555 Fight for Pay Equity

It’s time for Fred Meyer to fix the gap: According to data from UFCW Local 555, female employees of the grocery chain are twice as likely to be hired into lower paying jobs. On average, the difference is around $3.50 per hour less than male employees.

The Northwest Labor Press recently reported on Local 555’s campaign for pay equity through contract bargaining:

“Local 555’s contracts contain two pay schedules. Schedule A is for grocery checkers, courtesy clerks, and workers in produce, wine, regular grocery, freight, and the cold wall (dairy and prepackaged deli meats). Schedule B includes the deli and bakery departments, and cheese and coffee kiosks. The thing is: Workers don’t choose which of those two schedules they’re placed in. They fill out a job application for a general grocery category, and then get hired and assigned by managers to jobs in one of the two pay schedules. That’s the biggest source of the gender disparity — because the average wage is $17.22 for Schedule A and $13.69 for Schedule B. That’s a $3.53 difference.”  Click here to read more.

Let’s stand together to support the hardworking members of UFCW Local 555: Please sign a petition to show your support for UFCW Local 555 members as they do whatever it takes to get an equitable wage increase.

Talking Trade

For more than 25 years, workers have been devastated by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and trade rules that benefit corporations at our expense. With the agreement back on the table, the National AFL-CIO held a series of town hall meetings to discuss where the labor movement stands. Click here to see a video from one of these exciting events.

Here in Oregon, we can take action to demand that any new or renegotiated trade deal puts workers ahead. The new NAFTA is another corporate handout. It won't stem the outsourcing of good jobs or protect the rights of working people. Trade policy must be judged by whether it leads to a just, inclusive and sustainable economy. An economy that works for all, regardless of race, gender or national origin, and that in particular lifts up the most vulnerable. By that measure, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has driven the outsourcing of so many good jobs, has been a catastrophic failure.

Tell Congress the new NAFTA isn't good enough and to refuse to vote on it.