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The Oregon Labor Dispatch: January 11, 2024 

The Oregon Labor Dispatch is a weekly email and blog series designed to keep Oregon’s workers informed of the latest news about unions, worker power, and much more. Each week, we bring you a curated selection of news stories, graphics, and information about upcoming events and actions. When Oregon’s Labor Movement is connected, updated and informed we are able to be stronger advocates for all working Oregonians.


If you have a news story, event or action you’d like to see featured in the Oregon Labor Dispatch please email us at communications@oraflcio.org.



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Graduate Employees (GTFF) Strike at U of O 

The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation at the University of Oregon have declared their intent to strike on January 17 if a fair contract is not reached.  Here are three ways you can help support striking graduate workers: 


🪧 Attend the Rally on January 19 in Eugene 

Stand with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation in their fight for a fair contract at a rally on Friday, January 19 at the EMU Amphitheater at the University of Oregon at 3:00pm. Speakers include AFT President Randi Weingarten! Click here to download a flier to help promote the rally. 


💲 Donate to the GTFF Strike Fund 

The GTFF, a union representing more than 1,400 Graduate Employees at the University of Oregon, has been in contentious contract negotiations with the UO since March 2023. The UO’s refusal to provide a contract that enables GEs to live with dignity has pushed GTFF members to prepare for a potential strike. In order to prepare to hold the line for a fair contract, GTFF is asking for community members, GTFF alumni, fellow labor unions, and other allies to contribute to their Strike Fund. Click here to donate today. 


📩 Tell the University of Oregon Board of Trustees: Don’t Cut Off Employee Healthcare!

Take action to stand with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation at the University of Oregon who are fighting hard for a fair contract and may face cuts to their healthcare by the Board of Trustees.  


Take Action 

🩺 Support Nurses at Sacred Heart Home Health and Hospice

Join the Oregon Nurses Association in standing up to PeaceHealth's corporate executives to hold them accountable to the community. Let PeaceHealth know you support local health care and local health care workers by sending a message to PeaceHealth's corporate executives demanding that they invest in our community's health and offer home care nurses a fair wage. Click here to take action. 


🗽 Tell Lawmakers to Fund the People's Budget in 2024

The People's Budget is a roadmap for building a just and equitable Oregon that works for everyone. The People's Budget outlines clear funding priorities based on the needs and voices of Oregonians across the state. By investing in critical programs and services, we can create a future where everyone has the opportunity to flourish. Tell Lawmakers to Pass the People’s Budget.   


Oregon Labor & Politics 

January 9, 2024 | Oregon Center for Public Policy 

“Oregon’s tax system remains inequitable,” said Daniel Hauser, Deputy Director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy, who examined the report. “Our tax system should reduce Oregon’s record-high levels of income inequality, but instead it makes it worse.”


January 5, 2024 | Oregon Labor Commissioner Christina Stephenson 

“During Labor Commissioner Stephenson’s first year in office, the Bureau of Labor and Industries has tirelessly worked to elevate Oregon’s status as the best place to live and work in the country.”


Looking Forward 

January 9, 2024 | The Messenger 

From national AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler: “When people ask me why the labor movement just had its most dynamic and successful year in a generation, I tell them about workers like Alicia — people whose lives changed because they stood together with their co-workers. For all the talk about macro trends and economic factors, the driving force behind the “Year of Labor” was simple: Being in a union makes your life better.”


Organizing 

January 11, 2024 | The Guardian 

“Fresh off its victories over the US’s three biggest domestic automakers, the United Auto Workers (UAW) is going all out to unionize Volkswagen’s flagship plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.” 


January 10, 2024 | The Guardian 

“Over 30% of workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant outside of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, have signed union authorization cards, the United Auto Workers (UAW) announced on Tuesday. The news is another significant boost to the UAW’s plans to unionize non-union auto workers throughout the US after securing historic contracts for workers at the big three US automakers last year.”


Strikes 

January 9, 2024 | 8 NBC News Now 

“ Another strike looms for Culinary Union 226 that would impact nearly 8,000 resort workers at Las Vegas properties. On Monday, the union set a strike deadline of Feb. 2 to reach agreements with 21 independently owned Strip and downtown properties including Circus Circus Hotel, Sahara Las Vegas, Circa Resort, Virgin Hotels, and more. The contracts at those properties expired in June 2023.”


Labor Law 

January 10, 2024 | Minnesota Reformer 

“The National Labor Relations Board sided with the union representing baristas at a Starbucks in the Mall of America in Bloomington, blocking some workers’ petition to hold an election to oust the union. The action comes as labor regulators review allegations of unfair labor practices by the Seattle coffee giant.”


January 10, 2024 | People’s World 

“The AFL-CIO praised the new curbs on independent contractors when DOL issued its draft of this new rule this past October. “By restoring commonsense rules to determine who is an employee, and making it harder for employers to intentionally misclassify their employees as independent contractors, DOL’s announcement will increase protections and expand benefits to so many working people who have been subjected to corporate work-arounds,” federation President Liz Shuler said then.”


January 9, 2024 | The Washington Post 

“Millions of gig workers, janitors, home-care workers, construction workers and truckers could be considered employees rather than independent contractors under a final rule announced Tuesday by the Labor Department. The rule effectively expands the reach of federal labor laws that require employers to extend certain benefits and protections to workers classified as employees. Those include the right to the minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment insurance and Social Security benefits — which employers are not required to provide to independent contractors.”


January 6, 2024 | NBC Bay Area 

“Five states are deciding this year whether to ditch the practice of paying workers who earn tips less than the minimum wage. And activists say they’re bringing that fight to at least as many others, framing it as a key cost-of-living issue in an election year. Ballot measures pending in Michigan, Arizona, Ohio and Massachusetts, and a bill being reintroduced in Connecticut would eliminate a longstanding two-tiered pay system for tip-earning hourly workers like restaurant servers and bartenders, who earn a lower “subminimum” wage than their nontipped counterparts.”


December 20, 2023 | Street Roots 

“According to a recent Gallup poll, 71% of Americans approve of labor unions, the highest approval rating since 1965. And worker organizing has led to unionization of stores at a number of well-known, profitable companies. The problem is that many of these new unions have yet to win a first contract. One important reason: national companies like Starbucks, Amazon, REI and Trader Joe’s, as well as local companies like New Seasons and Voodoo Donuts, are taking advantage of shortcomings in US labor law to drag out the negotiating process until workers either give up or worker turnover undermines support for the union.”


Labor & Technology 

January 10, 2024 | AFL-CIO 

“Today, the AFL-CIO, the AFL-CIO Technology Institute and SAG-AFTRA co-hosted their fifth annual Labor Innovation & Technology Summit. Across two days, the Summit convenes movement leaders and working people to discuss and develop strategies to ensure ethical technology adoption and center workers at the heart of emerging technologies.”


January 9, 2024 | The Manitoban 

“2023 was great for gamers. An incredible amount of fantastic new video games were released, like Baldur’s Gate 3, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and far too many more to list. Many have called it the best year for video games in over a decade. However, as several media commentators have already pointed out, the year was also a terrible one for the people who make video games. Over 10,000 people were estimated to have been laid off in the video game industry over the past year, about 10 times the amount of layoffs in 2022.”


Young Workers 

January 9, 2024 | The Hill 

“University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh suggested that college athletes should unionize after his team won the national championship on Monday night. “The thing I would change about college football is, to let the talent share in the ever-increasing revenues,” Harbaugh said at a press conference Tuesday. “We’re all robbing the same train and the ones that are in the position to do the heavy lifting, the ones that risk life and limb out there on a football field are the players and not just, not just football players, student athletes.”


January 8, 2024 | Economic Policy Institute 

“In states across the country, advocates and lawmakers are working to eliminate subminimum wages for low-wage tipped or disabled workers. Amid increased child labor violations and a growing movement to roll back protections for working youth, lawmakers should also work to eliminate youth subminimum wages. Age-based pay discrimination is unfair and harms workers of all ages.”


Worker Safety & Health 

January 9, 2024 | Medriva 

“In a significant stride towards combating the alarming rates of cancer among firefighters, the American Cancer Society and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) have joined forces. This collaboration aims to deliver targeted education and best practices to prevent and reduce cancer among firefighters, emphasizing early detection and regular screenings.”


January 7, 2024 | The Hill 

By John Samuelsen, president of Transport Workers Union International: “All across the country, transit workers are outrageously getting attacked and abused every single day. They are being harassed, menaced, spat upon, beaten up — even shot and killed. According to data from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), in 2021 there were more than 345 assaults on transit workers — including bus drivers, station agents, track workers, cleaners and others who just showed up to work.”  


January 7, 2024 | KSTP 

“Letter carriers for the United States Postal Service (USPS) say violent crimes — namely assaults and robberies — against them have been through the roof in recent years. Union leadership for the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) at a rally on the steps of Minneapolis’ central post office on Sunday said U.S. Postal Inspection Service data shows there have been 2,000 attacks against letter carriers across the country since 2020.”


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