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The Oregon Labor Dispatch: July 4, 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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Job Opening

Oregon AFL-CIO is hiring a Campaign Canvass Manager

Are you ready to strengthen the voice of working people in the political process? Are you an experienced, effective project manager or organizer with great references? If so, we need YOU for our robust political program during the upcoming election year by doing critical member mobilization and leading our canvass program! This is a full-time temporary position through the November 2024 election. For details and to apply, see our posting on unionjobs.com.


Upcoming Events

Register Now! OR AFL-CIO/LERC Summer School

Friday July 19-21, 2024 | University of Oregon Campus in Eugene

We are excited to be back together for this year’s Summer School, sponsored by the Oregon AFL-CIO and the Labor Education and Research Center, hosted on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene on July 19-21, 2024. Whether you are a new member or experienced leader, Summer School has something for you. Join us for a weekend of education, discussion and socializing with 100+ other union members from across the state. To register and learn more go to: https://lerc.uoregon.edu/ss24/.


Must Read 

July 3, 2024 | AFL-CIO

“Labor runs on solidarity—and no White House has supported workers like the Biden-Harris administration. No president has been more invested in empowering workers and expanding the labor movement than Joe Biden, who has stood with working people at every opportunity, including on the picket line. Under President Biden and Vice President Harris, workers are winning record contracts across the country with double-digit raises, new organizing is surging, good jobs are coming home to the United States, and pensions that millions of workers count on for retirement security are protected thanks to the American Rescue Plan. President Biden and Vice President Harris have delivered day after day for working people, taking on corporate greed to balance the scales for workers.”


June 28, 2024 | AFL-CIO

“The AFL-CIO condemns today’s decision, which awards authority to the judiciary that should stay with policy experts in the federal government. Extremist politicians and their corporate allies have schemed for decades to undermine regulatory agencies, and this disheartening decision is a huge gift to those same interests.”


Oregon Labor

July 2, 2024 | Willamette Week

“As part of wide-ranging job cuts, Oregon Health & Science University this week cut a telehealth nursing unit set up during the COVID-19 pandemic that was featured on the OHSU Foundation website for its service to people across the state. OHSU started the Connected Care Center on March 30, 2020, just as the pandemic began. It was open only to OHSU patients before opening to the public shortly afterward.“


July 1, 2024 | KOIN 

“Nearly 300 OHSU employees — some of them front line workers — were notified Monday they were getting laid off, including 151 union workers. These layoffs have been looming for weeks, spurred by an operating loss of $64 million for the fiscal year that ended Sunday. Jennie Olson, who both writes grants and contracts for OHSU and is the president of the AFSCME Local 328 which represents thousands of OHSU workers, told KOIN 6 News the number of layoffs could potentially rise to 500 members.“


July 1, 2024 | The Oregonian

“Oregon’s minimum wage jumps Monday, approaching $16 an hour in the Portland area. But how many workers make the minimum varies a lot by geography, and by industry. State lawmakers overhauled Oregon’s minimum wage in 2016, mandating annual increases that are now pegged to inflation. And they set varying minimum wages for different parts of the state, to account for differences in the cost of living..”


June 30, 2024 | Willamette Week

“The Northwest Oregon Labor Council in late May released its endorsements for Portland City Council, a 12-member body that will be decided on the November 2024 ballot. The endorsements were issued a little while ago, but they’re worth noting now because of the pivotal role organized labor plays in Democratic Party politics.”


June 27, 2024 | Willamette Week

“When chief people officer Qiana Williams left Oregon Health & Science University earlier this month, she kept rights to her $550,000 annual salary until June 2025, with continued health benefits, unless she finds another job before then. She also got a one-time payment of $75,000. Non-union workers being laid off by OHSU right now won’t fare nearly as well, according to a document describing the benefits obtained by WW. Those with five years or fewer on the job will get four weeks of pay and one month of COBRA health benefits. Williams did better after serving just 19 months.”


June 26, 2024 |Lake Oswego Review

“Wanting a better offer from the city of Lake Oswego amid labor negotiations, workers within the Lake Oswego Municipal Employees Association belted out “more than praise, we need a raise,” “living wages, living city” and other chants during a rally held at City Hall Wednesday, June 26. The municipal employee association represents 166 workers within the city government (it doesn’t include management, fire or police) and has negotiated over a new contract with city leaders over the last few months. Along with the rally, the association recently sent out a petition signed by 144 members asking for a better contract. Association President Scott Symer also testified in front of the City Council earlier this month.”


Washington Labor

July 2, 2024 | The Stand

“Wanting a union job is one thing — but finding a union job is another. Enter the Virtual Union Hiring Hall, a collaborative project between the Presidents’ Organizing Initiative (POI) housed at the Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council (MLK Labor) and Partner in Employment (PIE). This innovative platform allows union employers to post positions, and applicants to look through their options, including pay, descriptions of work, and what union would represent them. Applicants can scroll a full list of positions, or search by job title or union..”


June 27, 2024 | Newsweek

“Boeing's largest union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), is demanding a 40 percent pay increase over the next three to four years for its 32,000 members. The call comes in response to the ongoing 737 Max crisis, which has caused significant manufacturing issues and labor tensions. The union's current request is partly rooted in a contentious 2014 agreement where workers sacrificed pensions and accepted minimal raises. That deal left many union members feeling disenfranchised and eager for better terms as the existing contract nears its expiration. "Our goal is to negotiate a contract that we as a union leadership and our members can accept. We don't take going on strike lightly. But we're willing to do it," said Jon Holden, president of IAM District 751.” 


June 26, 2024 | Salish Current

“Western Washington University recently completed agreements with two student groups: Western Academic Workers United (WAWU), the newly formed union that represents undergraduate and graduate student employees, and the WWU Divest Apartheid Coalition. These agreements reveal some bad news, some good news and a giant missed opportunity. On March 14, WAWU organized an “Expand the Pie” rally. WWU receives fewer dollars per student from the state than any other public university or college. The 300 students, faculty, and staff who filled Red Square and the two state legislators who spoke at the rally called attention to this deficit and demanded that the legislature increase Western’s base budget.”


The Supreme Court

June 28, 2024 | The Guardian

“Under Chief Justice John Roberts, the supreme court has been supremely pro-corporate – one study even called the Roberts court “the most pro-business court in history”. Not only have many justices been groomed and vetted by the business-backed Federalist Society, but Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have taken lavish favors from billionaire corporate titans. Thomas has even spoken at two Koch network fundraising “donor summits”, gatherings of rightwing, ultra-wealthy business barons. While the court is decidedly pro-corporate, most Americans probably don’t know just how anti-worker and anti-union it really is.”


June 28, 2024 | Economic Policy Institute

“Today, the Supreme Court issued decisions in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce that overturned the longstanding precedent of Chevron deference. This ruling will make it harder for federal agencies to govern, operate, or enforce workers’ rights and protections effectively, meaning workers will be left exposed to more dangers, risks, and discriminatory treatment on the job.”


Workplace Safety

July 2, 2024 | People’s World

U.S. rail unions and the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department have by and large agreed with federal safety findings as a result of the East Palestine, Ohio, freight train derailment disaster early in 2023. But there are some holes. A reading of the National Transportation Safety Board’s summary report shows the top one is no mention of railroads’ one-third cut in the number of freight train workers, including trained safety inspectors, starting in 2015. Unions and workers have battled those cuts ever since. The railroads cut workers, shifting to automation instead, to satisfy the greed for higher dividends and other payouts to their Wall Street investors. As a result, safety went south. “The National Transportation Safety Board’s findings and safety recommendations are an indictment of widespread safety failures across the freight rail industry,” Transportation Trades Department President Greg Regan said."


July 2, 2024 | Bloomberg

“Roughly six months since the Pharmacy Guild was formed, a handful of retail pharmacies across the US have filed to join the union. While unionizing is common for other healthcare workers like nurses, pharmacists historically haven’t organized. In 2023, just 4.6% of pharmacists (or about 15,260 people) were covered by union contracts, the Wall Street Journal reported. The creation of the Pharmacy Guild and the subsequent unionizations followed a series of pharmacy worker walkouts in late 2023. But Gerald Friedman, a union expert and economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is skeptical of how much of an effect a union could have against large corporations like CVS or Walgreens."


June 28, 2024 | ABC News

“The head of the national mine workers’ union on Friday condemned what he characterized as an effort by House Republicans to block enforcement of a long-awaited federal rule directed at curbing workers' exposure to poisonous, deadly rock dust, calling it “a direct attack on the health and safety of coal miners.” United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts said a budget provision — approved by a U.S. House subcommittee Thursday — prohibiting the Department of Labor from using funding to enforce a silica dust rule operators must be in compliance with next year is “morally reprehensible” and that the action "undermines the principles of fairness and justice that our country stands for."


Politics

July 1, 2024 | People’s World

Declaring “we are the swing votes” to decide this fall’s election, thousands of people from all over the U.S. massed in Washington on June 29 to mobilize millions of poor and low-wealth people to cast ballots by or on November 5—and to warn politicians they risk their own power if they don’t heed that call. The campaign drew huge support from progressive organizations, including the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees 1199 Health Care Workers, the Machinists, the Communications Workers, the Government Employees, the Postal Workers, the Amalgamated Transit Union and AFSCME. Jewish, progressive Protestant and Muslim faith groups also marched.


July 1, 2024 | The Hill

President Biden is extending overtime protections to 1 million workers who make less than the median individual salary and is vowing to take more action if reelected. The executive action announced Monday will extend protections to workers making less than $43,888 per year, the White House said in a statement.


July 1, 2024 | Labor Tribune

“As autoworkers, baristas, package carriers, Hollywood writers and actors, and thousands of other workers fight for and win new unions and new union contracts, Biden administration appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are helping prevent anti-union employers from undermining worker organizing. However, these gains are under threat from The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 — a playbook with strategies for eroding checks and balances across the government that offers instructions for gutting the NLRB’s enforcement capacity. This would threaten workers’ ability to come together in unions to bargain for better wages and working conditions.


June 28, 2024 | People’s World

Reaction fell along predictable lines. The first two union leaders to comment on the debate, AFT President Randi Weingarten and AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, trashed Trump. The Republican “offered the same stale lies in a pathetic attempt to hide the truth that as president, he betrayed workers and families to govern for the wealthy,” said Shuler. “Under the Biden administration, union members are winning record contracts in every part of the country, millions of workers are receiving double-digit raises, worker organizing is surging, and millions of pensions are being saved,” Shuler argued. “Trump’s legacy is chaos and division—and his greatest accomplishment in office was a bloated tax giveaway for the wealthy at the expense of working people who make our country run.


June 27, 2024 | The ‘Gander

According to a 2020 report from the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, 200,000 American jobs were offshored during Trump’s presidency, and he awarded more than $425 billion in federal contracts to several major corporations that were responsible for doing so.The Trump administration also repeatedly opposed legislation to increase the federal minimum wage, as well as changed the rules for who qualifies for overtime pay—making more than 8 million workers ineligible and costing them a combined $1 billion annually in lost wages. “[Under Trump], there was a whole period of time of nothing,” said Paul VanOss, business manager at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58. “But when Biden got there, he started making those things happen, and the roll continued. … Factories were getting built. People in Detroit were going back to work. I mean, we’re really up and running now.


Organizing

July 1, 2024 | The Nation

“Organized labor is in the midst of a fierce campaign to make inroads at auto manufacturers in the South, most recently at the Mercedes plant in Vance, Alabama, where on May 17, 56% of workers voted narrowly against joining the United Auto Workers. But a few months before the unsuccessful vote at Mercedes, workers 100 miles away at an EV bus manufacturing plant in Anniston, Alabama, unionized and won a historic contract. In January 2024, the majority of the around 600 workers at a plant run since 2013 by New Flyer, the largest transit bus manufacturer in North America, signed a union card to join the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA). Over the last couple of years, workers at the company’s other plants in Kentucky and New York have unionized, joining two longtime union shops in Minnesota. Together, they now make up the largest union in the public transit bus manufacturing sector in the United States, with over 2,350 members."


The Union Difference

June 28, 2024 | Forbes

“Women in particular may experience benefits from joining unions: According to data from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), unionized women who work full time are typically paid 19% more than women who are not in a union, resulting in them making roughly $10,000 more a year. (Unionized men who work full time are typically paid 14% more than men workers who are not in a union, or the equivalent of roughly an extra $8,000 a year.) Women currently make up nearly half of union members."

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