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2023: A Historic Year for Oregon Labor✊🏽



2023 has been a banner year for Oregon Labor, and the success we saw is thanks to the hard work, dedication, and incredible efforts made by every union in Oregon.  From a windfall of legislative wins during the 2023 Oregon Legislature, to supporting unions on strike around the state, to winning in local elections, to an exciting and inspiring 2023 Oregon AFL-CIO Convention, we are proud and fired up by everything Oregon Labor has done together this year. 


Let’s take a look back at the highlights, the victories and the campaigns that shaped Oregon Labor in 2023: 




2023 Legislative Wins 

We started 2023 with the Oregon Labor Legislative Conference where union members, leaders and elected officials gathered to learn about Oregon Labor legislative priorities and find out how to get involved in the efforts to pass bills designed to build power and protect working people. 


Despite nine Senators essentially shutting down legislative action for six weeks of session, Oregon Labor racked up some monumental wins in the 2023 Oregon Legislature, including finally modernizing Oregon OSHA’s penalties to help make workplaces safer, changes in time-off coverage for medical appointments under workers’ compensation, historic investments in education and state infrastructure including the semiconductor industry, and significant wins for nurses and healthcare workers in safe hospital staffing levels, among many others. Click here to read in detail about how Oregon Labor’s priorities did in the 2023 session. 


At our convention in September, we recognized the legislators who went above and beyond in their support of workers.  Our 2023 award winners are: 


➡️LEGISLATOR OF THE YEAR: Representative (and union firefighter) Dacia Grayber, for her incredible support of Oregon Labor’s priority bills across the board.


➡️RISING STAR: Representative Nathan Sosa, for sending a clear signal in his first several legislative sessions and as vice-chair of the House Business and Labor Committee as a fighter for workers’ rights. 


➡️SOLIDARITY CHAMPION: Senate Majority Kate Lieber, who proactively listened to and reached out to workers and our unions to understand our needs in an exemplary way. 



The Oregon Labor Movement is incredibly thankful for every worker and worker advocate who shared their stories with elected leaders over the last year. All of Oregon Labor should be incredibly proud of the work we were able to accomplish together this legislative session!


 


2023 Special Election 

For the May 2023 Special Election, five Central Labor Chapters endorsed candidates for school boards, local offices, and local bonds and levies. To support these endorsements, the Oregon AFL-CIO created field and communications campaigns to educate and mobilize union members and labor-aligned voters to get out the vote. 


Electing union endorsed candidates and winning local bonds and levies is crucial to making Oregon a better and more just place for working Oregonians in every corner of the state. Engaging in smaller level races is important with many elected leaders starting their careers in public service on school boards and other local offices, and often making an impact over their many years in local politics. By supporting pro-worker, pro-union candidates earlier in their careers, and throughout them, we can continue to shift our state’s priorities towards building a fair and just economy for all. 


 


Organizing 

2023 saw a flurry of union organizing campaigns in virtually every sector of our economy. To facilitate union organizing in Oregon, share best practices, and provide a space for networking and skill building we held the 2023 Oregon Labor Organizing Summit in Portland on May 24, 2023 - with plans to host annual summits focused on organizing and growth in the years ahead. 


The 2023 Organizing Summit’s theme, “Our Power, Our Time, Our Movement,” which focused on reinforcing the urgency of the moment and using organizing momentum to help cultivate an energizing atmosphere to inspire action. Participants heard from nationally recognized organizing experts, enjoyed a panel discussion about recent campaigns, sharpened their skills through engaging workshops, and were inspired to keep fighting by a keynote speech from national AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. 


🗓️ Mark your calendars: The 2024 Oregon Labor Organizing Summit will be held on May 30, 2024 in Portland! 


Additionally, we launched a committee of organizing leaders aimed at collaborating, sharing resources, and building the pace and scale of organizing and growth.  We hosted the National AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute with nearly 40 organizers and leaders aimed at honing skills and winning more campaigns.  And we continue to look for opportunities to bring unions together for joint trainings and convenings focused on expanding organizing capacity throughout the state.  


 


Supporting Strikes & Collective Bargaining

If there’s one thing that stands out about Oregon Labor in 2023, it’s the wave of strikes that swept through our region. The Oregon AFL-CIO uplifted each strike by mobilizing union members and allies to walk picket lines, spreading the word about rallies and actions, helping distribute supplies to pickets, and working with elected officials to galvanize broader support for the strikes. 


Some of the highlights of our efforts to support unions on strike included:


  • Oregon AFL-CIO officers speaking at ONA, UAW, IUOE Local 701, OFNHP, SEIU Local 49, and PAT picket lines

  • Assisting the Oregon Nurses Association to spread the word about their historic five-day strike at Providence and potential but avoided strike at St. Charles in Bend. 

  • The creation of the Oregon Labor Strike Map, an informational graphic showing every picket line in the region to help direct support where it’s needed

  • Coordinating with House Speaker Dan Rayfield to speak at a rally in support of striking IUOE Local 701 members in Corvallis and working with local media to generate news coverage of the event

  • Placing Kaiser Permanente on the Oregon AFL-CIO “Unfair Employer / Do Not Patronize List” in support of UFCW Local 555

  • Helping unions including UAW Local 492, ONA, OFNHP, and AFSCME Local 1422 organize donations to their strike funds to help workers continue to fight for fair contracts 


2023 saw more than just strikes - it saw historic contract wins in every sector of the economy, many of which were won by building a credible strike threat, taking a strike vote or holding practice pickets to remind the bosses who has the power.  Some wins, from healthcare to the auto industry to public services, have set a new standard and are improving the lives of union and non-union workers alike. Whenever a union in Oregon is facing a tough battle at the bargaining table, Oregon Labor stands behind them every step of the way until a fair contract is reached - because an injury to one of us is an injury to all of us.


 


2023 Oregon AFL-CIO Convention 

The 58th Biennial Convention of the Oregon AFL-CIO was held September 20th - 23rd, 2023 at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes in beautiful Bend, Oregon. With over 350 affiliated union delegates, guests and honorary delegates in attendance, our convention serves as the single largest gathering of Oregon Labor in the state and the spirit of solidarity was felt by everyone who joined us.


Together, delegates proposed and approved an array of resolutions to guide the Oregon Labor Movement for the next two years, elected a strong slate of State Federation officers and Executive Board members, and heard from informative guest speakers, panelists, and workshop presenters. 


We held the 2023 Oregon Labor Awards Ceremony, where unions and elected officials were recognized for their achievements in building power for working Oregonians since our last convention in 2022. We ended the convention by mobilizing attendees and local community members to rally and march through downtown Bend in support of Central Oregon workers to support their fights for fair contracts.



 

Looking Ahead 

2023 was an incredible year for building power for Oregon workers - and 2024 is on course to be even better.  We’re excited to advocate for more worker protections and new laws to benefit workers in the 2024 Oregon Legislature starting in February, launch the Labor 2024 political campaign to get out the vote for Oregon Labor endorsements in the spring for the Primary election and in the fall for the General election, host the 2024 Oregon Labor Organizing Summit in May, and facilitate multiple trainings for our movement aimed at building our collective capacity and power.  


Beyond these events and campaigns, the Oregon AFL-CIO is ready to support our affiliated unions’ collective bargaining efforts and strikes should they happen, and do everything within our power as Oregon Labor to make progress for the working people of Oregon.  We know that together, we have unlimited power and the potential to bring real change to the lives of all workers.  


In 2024, let’s stand together and make the new year even more powerful and prosperous! 



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