Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update: Making Our Voices Heard
May 23, 2019
Public Employees Unions Fight Against Onslaught of PERS Attacks
Once again, PERS is a target for leaders of the business community and legislators. After many promises made to Oregon’s public employees, legislators are now considering Senate Bill 1049, which would “divert a portion of their retirement contributions to paying down the system’s $27 billion debt."
Some members of the Senate have been cutting deals behind closed doors without input from unions, moving the bill to a vote today without notice, effectively shielding our elected officials from having to face their constituents as they take a stance that will hurt workers statewide.
Union members across Oregon have testified against the proposal, saying they have faced several cuts in previous years. Many public employees are already struggling to support their families with existing pay and benefits.
SB 1049 was moved out of committee on Tuesday, May 21 and will appear before the Senate for a vote on Friday. Please contact your legislators and let them know this bill is unfair and that we need to keep Oregon’s promise to PERS recipients.
Union Members Campaign for Working People
Congratulations to Heidi Edwards (Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District), Michael Sonnleitner (Portland Community College), Alex Diaz Rios (Portland Community College), and Denyse Peterson (Multnomah Education Service District), all union members who ran for office and were successful in their campaigns! These union members, and many others, stepped up to make sure the voices of the Labor Movement continue to be heard at all levels. Thank you to all of the union members who ran for various offices across the state. Your commitment to workers hasn’t gone unnoticed.
LIUNA Local 483 Fights Portland Parks & Rec Cuts
Laborers Local 483 continues to rally the Portland community against Mayor Ted Wheeler’s proposed budget cuts. These devastating cuts would result in dozens of jobs lost, and have community altering impacts to the Hillside and Sellwood Community Centers. Under pressure, Wheeler included funding for the Multnomah Arts Center and the Columbia Pool for one more year.
“For many Rec workers, losing their current jobs means a plunge into precarity: returning to food stamps, third jobs, and worrying about the rent each month,” reads Local 483’s Facebook page. Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has been vocal about her opposition to the budget, saying "There is a fundamental issue if the council votes to increase our own wages, at the same time when 56 people are slated to lose their jobs.”
The City Council was set to take a vote on Wednesday, but delayed the vote until Thursday, May 23 after outcry from the community. More community and union members will have their testimonials heard before votes are cast.
OR AFL-CIO President Advocates for Inclusion in Labor Movement
“In this era of Trump-style diversionary tactics that have emboldened hate groups, it is more important than ever that the union movement is solidly the most safe and welcoming place we have for all workers. Our workers reflect the full diversity of America. Today’s union leaders must understand this diversity and embrace measures, trainings and programs that address workplace and living issues equitably for all workers.
Our union movement must be constantly evolving to meet the needs of our diverse membership. Not only must we develop trainings, but we must incorporate these lessons into our summits, conferences, conventions, and ourselves. It is our job to take on any and all issues that impact workers. We build power for our worker’s movement when we recognize and embrace our diversity. It is our strength not our weakness.” - Tom Chamberlain