Weekly Update: We The People

Action Alert:
Rally & March on Presidents’ Day

Since Inauguration Day, the rights of too many have been threatened, attacked, or withheld. We are all stronger when we stand together in unity. Resistance to attacks on members of our community requires a strong, steady and collective voice. Be part of that collective voice, take action and march on Presidents’ Day in downtown Portland to show our unified resistance to injustice.

DeVos Confirmed

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain released the following statement yesterday regarding the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education:

“Today, the United States Senate confirmed President Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. DeVos has shown an apathy toward public schools, choosing to instead embrace private, for-profit alternatives. That makes me concerned about the future of public schools in this country, and what could happen here in Oregon. She hasn’t shown us that she understands what our children need to succeed in school.

I applaud Oregon’s Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both of whom were outspoken in their opposition to DeVos. Our Senators heard working Oregonians’ concerns in this important matter and stood with us as concerned parents, teachers, and students spoke out across the state.”

Hate-Free Workplaces

A recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows Oregon as having the tenth highest per capita rate of hate incidents in the nation in the month following the November election.

In light of these incidents, it’s important that you know what your rights are and what you can do if you or someone you know is the target of one of these incidents in the workplace.

Click here to learn more about what you can do if you or someone you know experiences an act of hate at work.

Get the facts:
Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

Judge Neil Gorsuch was nominated to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court. Soon the U.S. Senate will hold hearings on his nomination. In taking a deeper look at Gorsuch's record, there are quite a few rulings and writings that should concern working people. As a private lawyer and as a judge, he has aligned himself with the interests of Big Business, not the concerns of working families.

He has ruled against protecting the health and safety of workers, made it harder to have discrimination-free workplaces and argued for corporations’ misconduct to be protected from correction by investors and consumers. Click here to learn more about Judge Gorsuch.

Weekly Update: We Are Better Than This

We Are Better Than This

President Trump’s Executive Orders regarding refugees and immigrants have set off a tidal wave of protest, advocacy, and organizing across the country.

Yesterday AFL-CIO President Trumka issued a statement titled “Attacking Immigrants and Refugees Hurts All Working People” where he explains “these Executive Orders are a clear attack on our members, and elevated fear is a direct obstacle to workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively. We call on President Trump to revoke these orders.”

President Trumka’s statement also explains how we, as a nation, are better than this and that we should never turn our backs on those fleeing violence and oppression. He asked that we, as union members, adhere to our core principles of solidarity, dignity, and respect for all working people. And most of all, that we defend all the members of our unions and communities who are being threatened by these Executive Orders.

Our country and our labor movement were founded by immigrants. Labor history teaches us about the struggles, the discrimination, and the violence endured by immigrants from across the world who came here to work – many of them in the factories, fields and mines where pivotal victories for workers’ rights were won. These struggles, this endured discrimination and violence built a foundation for today’s labor movement, and for our country. It’s our duty to stand up to injustice, and to stand up for the rights of all working people.

Are You Ready for the Fight?

The flames of so-called “Right-to-Work” laws have moved quickly in 2017. The fight to protect the right of working people to stand together in strong unions has, until this week, focused in states like Kentucky (where a “Right-to-Work” law was signed into law earlier this month), Missouri and New Hampshire.  

Today, our fight has gone to the national level, as GOP lawmakers introduced anticipated federal “Right-to-Work” legislation. Today’s statement from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka calls out the deceptive nature of this legislation:

“Right to work is a lie dressed up in a feel-good slogan. It doesn’t give workers freedom—instead, it weakens our right to join together and bargain for better wages and working conditions. Its end goal is to destroy unions. Numbers don’t lie. Workers in states with right to work laws have wages that are 12% lower. That’s because unions raise wages for all workers, not just our members.

A recent Pew survey shows that 60% of Americans—an overwhelming majority—support unions. Americans clearly see the value of coming together with their co-workers to tackle inequality. Right to work isn’t the will of the people, it’s legislation pushed on working people by out-of-touch corporations that want to ship jobs overseas, cut health and safety protections, and pay lower wages. This is an attempt by corporate CEOs to further tip the scale even more in their favor, at working people’s expense.

Working people were loud and clear in this past election. We want an economy that works for all, not just corporations. We know we need to rewrite the rules of the economy so that policies like bad trade deals and right to work aren’t the new norm. President Trump has said he supports unions and the people who are our members. He has stood up to corporate Republicans on trade. We call on him to do the same on right to work, and to stand up for every worker’s right to join a union.”

Outside of Congress, the national labor movement is concerned about President Trump’s nomination for Supreme Court. AFL-CIO President Trumka explained why Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination should raise concern for working people.

“His rulings to date raise very serious concerns about where he stands on issues like worker health and safety, equal opportunity in the workplace and the ability of agencies to adopt rules to protect workers’ rights. We will be digging deeper into Judge Gorsuch’s record in the days ahead to see if he meets the high standards that working families deserve.”

All Labor Has Dignity:
A Black History Month Event

On February 15th, the University of Oregon Labor and Education Research Center is hosting a lively facilitated discussion with civil rights activist and trade-unionist leader, William “Bill” Lucy.

Mr. Lucy helped lead and was a voice in the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees for 57 years. As a lifelong labor activist he collaborated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr during the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, Tennessee. Mr. Lucy was a founding member and President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).

The event also includes a viewing of the new short documentary: "Love and Solidarity" directed by Labor historian and filmmaker, Michael Honey.

The event will take place in Portland, with a simulcast at the University of Oregon campus in Eugene. Click here for all the details.

Weekly Update: Keep It Moving

Keep the Women’s March Moving

The following is a message from Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer (and Oregonian!):

Wow, Saturday was amazing. I was at the march in Washington, D.C., and I’m still feeling the unbelievable energy and solidarity of the hundreds of thousands of people who came.

People across the country made it clear on Saturday that we’re not going to allow President Donald Trump and our other elected leaders to move an agenda that endangers women, families and communities. But Saturday was just the start.

We need to turn that energy into action—and we have one thing you can do right now to keep up the momentum.

Click here or dial 1-844-551-6921 now to call your senator and tell her or him why the women’s march on Saturday was important to you. It’s one way to hold your legislator accountable on issues like paid family leave, equal pay and stopping harassment in the workplace.

Even if you weren’t at the women’s march in Washington, D.C., or a march near you, you can still take this action.

We need to make it clear to President Trump and our congressional members that this was just the beginning in the movement for equality and justice.

Call now to tell your senator why the women’s march on Saturday was important to you and that it is just the start of the work you’ll be doing to support women’s rights.

In Solidarity,

Liz Shuler
Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO

A First Step

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement on Monday in response to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

“Last year, a powerful coalition of labor, environmental, consumer, public health and allied groups came together to stop the TPP. Today's announcement that the US is withdrawing from TPP and seeking a reopening of NAFTA is an important first step toward a trade policy that works for working people. While these are necessary actions, they aren’t enough. They are just the first in a series of necessary policy changes required to build a fair and just global economy. We will continue our relentless campaign to create new trade and economic rules that end special privileges for foreign investors and Big Pharma, protect our planet’s precious natural resources and ensure fair pay, safe conditions and a voice in the workplace for all workers.”

Immigration Update

Today, our allies in the struggle for immigrants’ rights participated in a press conference at Multnomah County in response to President Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Click here to watch the press conference, and stay tuned for more information about how changes to immigration policy will impact working people in Oregon.

Leading the Way

Oregon has a history of leading the way in elections, first with vote by mail and most recently through our ground-breaking Motor Voter system, which automatically registers voters through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Motor Voter works, helps ensure the security of your vote and potentially saves tax payers money. Accurate data makes it easier for officials to maintain accurate lists of eligible voters. They can verify that only eligible voters can cast ballots by maintaining up-to-date lists. The streamlined electronic system drastically reduces the potential for error and keeps the data more secure by using existing technology. Oregon is potentially saving a significant amount of money because of its streamlined voter registration process. Processing paper voter registrations costs almost 30 times more than an electronic registration.

Not only does it work, but new polling shows most Oregonians support it: 73% of registered voters polled, which breaks down to 86% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans. Nikki Fisher, Executive Director of the Bus Project, explains why Motor Voter is so important to our state’s elections: “The overwhelming majority of Oregonians support Oregon Motor Voter. This proves that automatic voter registration is the future of how we administer elections in the state and across the country. Democracy works best when more eligible voters can participate. Oregon Motor Voter is the best way to ensure that all eligible voters regardless of political party can participate in our elections.”

Weekly Update: The Challenges We Will Face

The Challenges We Will Face

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain is featured in the current issue of the Northwest Labor Press, where he describes some of the challenges we will face in the years ahead:

“What is occurring in Washington, D.C., is a ramp up to dismantle the American union movement. Federal employees will experience wage freezes, privatization, and the downsizing of their workforce through attrition. The Building Trades face either an attempt to eliminate Davis Bacon (prevailing wage) or the development of strategies to circumvent prevailing wage.”

“Trump’s promised $1 trillion infrastructure plan may be funded by tax credits, allowing corporate America to sidestep prevailing wage laws. Public-sector unions will be watching who will be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, knowing that a bad decision on a Friedrichs-like case would implement “right-to-work” for public workers nationwide. There are still rumors that “right-to-work” and “paycheck deception,” which limits how union workers can make their voices heard in the political process, are targets for federal legislation.”

Click here to read the rest of President Chamberlain’s article.

Inauguration Weekend Events

The Oregon AFL-CIO, along with many other unions and community partners, has endorsed the United Front Against the Trump Agenda Rally & March which begins at 10am on Saturday in Shemanski Park in downtown Portland. Click here to learn more and to spread the word about the event on Facebook.

Staples Boycott Ends

A controversial partnership between the United States Post Office and office supply chain Staples has ended, and the American Postal Workers Union has declared victory.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein was interviewed by the Washington Post, where he explained what this win means for postal workers across the country:

“This is a big win. Staples is out of the mail business which they should never have gotten into. Our members take great pride in their training and their responsibilities; they swear an oath; they perform a public service. The quality of service at a Staples store isn’t comparable. The public should have confidence in the mail. Important letters, packages and business correspondences shouldn’t be handled like a ream of blank paper.”

What if Betsy DeVos Were Your Boss?

Betsy DeVos was nominated as secretary of education, and hearings for her nomination are currently underway.

As reporters and pundits are examining DeVos' record, the writers the AFL-CIO Now Blog thought it would be interesting to imagine what it would be like to actually work for DeVos.

Click here to check out what they came up with.