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Oregon Womxn Labor Leaders

Did you know that 52% of workers covered by union contracts in Oregon are womxn and womxn comprise majorities in many unions?

Despite their growth as a percentage of union members, womxn are still not as likely as men to hold leadership positions in unions nationally and in Oregon. Nationally, womxn represent 18.2% (10 out of 55) of the Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), with similar underrepresentation in the leadership of other national and international unions. The Oregon AFL-CIO has passed two resolutions at our conventions in 2017 and 2019 addressing this very important issue:

At the Oregon AFL-CIO, we’ve taken this issue and the resolutions passed at our Convention seriously and worked with leaders from our affiliated unions to create OWLL - The Oregon Womxn Labor Leaders. OWLL highlighted the issue of gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the 2017 Oregon AFL-CIO Convention that led to the work of passing the Oregon Workplace Fairness Act during the 2019 legislative session, to ensure workers have greater protections against discrimination and harassment in the workplace. OWLL went on to capture the imagination of working people across Oregon last summer (and earned some serious media attention) by staging flash mobs in support of pay equity at local grocery chain Fred Meyer:

On Friday, January 10 Liz Shuler, National AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer, joined over 50 womxn from dozens of Oregon unions to plan the next steps for OWLL - The Oregon Womxn Labor Leaders.

While the group’s name includes Leaders, it’s important to know that ALL union womxn are welcome to attend OWLL events and actions. In 2020, OWLL plans to take their mission of building solidarity and support for union womxn to the next level. Here is what to expect in the months ahead:

  • Quarterly gatherings at union halls in the Portland Metro Area

  • Expansion of OWLL outside of Portland in regions across the state

  • A push for greater inclusivity within OWLL, for example, exchanging “Womxn” for “Women” in the group’s name to encourage workers who identify as womxn to join.

  • Increase solidarity and take action to support womxn across the state

  • Mentorship program for womxn union members

Stay tuned for more ways to engage with OWLL in the months ahead!

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