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The Oregon Labor Dispatch: June 6, 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.

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There is a care crisis in nursing homes in the United States. Widespread understaffing, low pay and few benefits have led to burn out or injury for many workers. Corporate profits are up—but vulnerable nursing home residents are receiving worse and worse care. President Biden fulfilled his promise in April to establish national minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes. Thousands of you submitted stories, letters and comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help make this landmark rule a reality. But the for-profit nursing home industry has convinced its allies in Congress to hold votes that would not only kill the rule, but also ensure that HHS can’t release staffing rules to improve nursing home care in the future.

This week, executives from nursing homes around the country are traveling to lobby Congress in an attempt to get rid of the staffing standards. We need your help to make sure the voices of workers and residents, and their families, are heard. 

Must Read 

June 6, 2024 | Oregon AFL-CIO

“On Thursday, May 30 over 150 union members, leaders and staff from across Oregon came together for the 2024 Oregon Labor Organizing Summit! Our keynote speaker was AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and we were honored to feature PCUN President/Executive Director Reyna Lopez and LaborLab's founder and Executive Director Bob Funk.Participants learned about recent and ongoing organizing campaigns in Oregon and attended 10 engaging workshops about every aspect of building power for working people.”

Oregon Labor

June 6, 2024 | Eugene Weekly

“Founded in 1972 by local activists Marion Phelan and Mel Kang, Eugene Friends of Farm Workers (EFFW) emerged from a blend of local activism and the national wave of advocacy in favor of migrant labor rights. EFFW fought for the dignity and rights of farm workers who were often subjected to deplorable working conditions. The current “Who is Lane County” exhibit at the Lane County History Museum is a testament to the legacy of EFFW“

June 5, 2024 | Oregon Nurses Association

“Hospital executives have promised to deliver better patient care, greater efficiency, and expanded services, but we know corporate mergers like this often result in higher costs and lower quality care. To avoid those pitfalls, OHSU and Legacy cannot leave this process exclusively in the hands of C-suite executives. Hospital leaders must think differently and invite health advocates and experts in the field–including frontline nurses and healthcare professionals at Legacy and OHSU–to the table to ensure this unprecedented merger process is open, transparent, and delivers on its promises to Oregonians.”

June 5, 2024 | The Lund Report

“Oregon’s largest nurses union is accusing some hospital executives of a “coordinated attempt” to undermine a new state law that guarantees minimum staffing levels. The Oregon Nurses Association made the accusations in a letter to Oregon Health Authority Director Sejal Hathi sent on June 4 and made public Wednesday. In it, the union’s executive director Anna Tan Piazza, claimed hospitals are ignoring the law by assigning nurses more patients or adopting staffing plans without obtaining input from nurses as the new law requires. She asked the agency to respond to complaints filed by nurses at hospitals across the state.”

June 5, 2024 | AFSCME

“Workers at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) who are fighting for a fair contract and a seat at the table got high-profile help last week. AFSCME President Lee Saunders took part in a rally organized by OHSU’s postdoctoral workers who are negotiating their first contract but facing resistance from university administrators.”

June 5, 2024 | MSN

“t is the first full week of contract negotiations for janitors who clean the buildings of some of the region's biggest employers. The janitors, represented by SEIU Local 49, work at places like the Oregon Health and Science University Hospital and the U.S. Bancorp Tower. Their current contract expires the end of this month.Janitors were on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic and the union said it wants to make sure the essential quality of their work is recognized. Another focus is the rising cost of living.”

June 4, 2024 | The Daily Emerald 

“Situated on Northwest 24th Avenue and Nicolai Street in Portland, the dancers at Magic Tavern spent months organizing before the vote, from striking demonstrations in April to picketing the club in June and demanding reform. Picketers stood equipped with signs that read “strippers need safety now” and “strippers united will never be divided,” signaling solidarity and rebuking poor working conditions.“

June 3, 2024 | The Stand

“On May 24, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on behalf of the Washington farmworkers’ union Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) and its member Ramon Torres Hernandez that the Department of Labor (DOL) has a legal duty to protect domestic farmworkers’ wages in Washington state and require agricultural employers to offer the highest wage in contracts related to the H-2A program.”

May 30, 2024 | KGW 

“Nurses at six Providence hospitals have given negotiators the power to authorize a 10-day strike notice if discussions on a new contract with the health care provider fall apart. Thousands of nurses at Providence's St. Vincent, Newberg, Hood River, Medford, Willamette Falls and Milwaukie hospitals are asking for more competitive pay, a better nurse-to-patient ratio and better health benefits.“

Washington Labor

June 5, 2024 | International Brotherhood of Teamsters

“The Teamsters commend Representatives Haley Stevens (D-MI), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Mike Lawler (R-NY) for introducing the Warehouse Worker Protection Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would hold corporations like Amazon accountable for its dangerous safety practices and abusive production quotas. The bipartisan introduction in the House of Representatives comes four weeks after the companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Bob Casey (D-PA). “By forcing workers to comply with arbitrary and unrealistic production quotas, warehouse workers—specifically at Amazon—have experienced sky-high injury rates and have been forced to work dangerous jobs with low wages to further pad corporate profits,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien.” 

June 5, 2024 | The Columbian

“Nurses at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center will vote Thursday on a contract that includes higher wages but does not increase minimum staffing requirements at the Vancouver hospital. The 1,465 nurses represented by the Washington State Nurses Association reached a tentative agreement May 29 with PeaceHealth after 18 bargaining sessions and an informational picket. However, the hospital would not ensure staffing ratios that would limit the number of patients nurses care for at once, according to Talitha Wilson, a registered nurse and member of the bargaining team.”

June 4, 2024 | The Stand

“After three years of organizing, 21 months of bargaining, and nine months of picketing, the united independent union at the Seattle Art Museum, SAM VSO Union, is ready to wrap up their fight for a first contract. To show the museum it is time to stop the delays and deliver a fair contract for Visitor Service Officers, the union is holding its third rally, “Rally for Fair Benefits: End Museum Stonewalling!” on Thursday, June 6.”

May 30, 2024 | ABC News

“Boeing firefighters ratified a new contract with major pay increases and expect to return to work this weekend after a lockout that has lasted more than three weeks, their union said Thursday. The deal covers about 125 fire and emergency-service workers in the Seattle area, who were locked out by Boeing when their previous contract expired May 4. The vote was 86-24 to ratify a tentative agreement, according to Local I-66 of the International Association of Fire Fighters union.”

May 29, 2024 | The Stand

“Earlier this month the Washington Public Employees Association/UFCW Local 365 filed for representation on behalf of the Washington State Legislature’s House Democratic Caucus staff. Legislative staff were prohibited from forming or joining a union until a 2022 law that went into effect on May 1 of this year. WPEA has actively supported legislative staff’s right to collectively bargain, an effort that goes back to a 2011 bill proposed by former staff-turned-member Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-West Seattle).”

Pride Month

June 3, 2024 | Windy City Notes

“AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler released the following statement to commemorate LGBTQIA+ Pride Month and the many contributions of queer workers to the labor movement: “This June, we celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community, and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring equity, dignity, and inclusion both in life and in the workplace. Collective bargaining remains the best tool against discrimination of any kind, which is why the AFL-CIO fights so that working people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions can enjoy the protections of a union contract."


June 4, 2024 | Economic Policy Institute

“Opposition to a new nursing home staffing standard has come to a boil with owners seeking to overturn the rule via a Congressional Review Act resolution, a “salted earth” strategy that would prevent the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from ever issuing an amended rule. Given the life-saving implications of implementing a minimum staffing rule—which would require nursing homes to provide a minimum of 3.48 hours of care per resident—here’s a summary of comments EPI submitted in support of the rule, pushing back against unfounded industry claims of a worker shortage that would prevent nursing homes from meeting the new standard."

June 3, 2024 | Labor Tribune

“The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) are lauding the latest version of legislation opposing job discrimination on the basis of age and of being differently abled. And the AFL-CIO has thrown its support behind a reintroduced bill giving all public service workers the freedom to bargain — effectively overriding bargaining bans in Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere. The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act would extend bargaining rights, the right “to join a union chosen by a majority,” the right to bargain “over essential workplace matters, to access dispute resolution” and to collect union dues, AFL-CIO Legislative Director Jody Calemine wrote to lawmakers on May 15. They’d also be able to “engage in activities related to collective bargaining and mutual aid."

June 3, 2024 | Labor Tribune

“President Biden has vetoed a Congressional Review Act measure that sought to overturn the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule preventing corporations from hiding behind a subcontractor or staffing agency when workers want to collectively bargain. The NLRB’s joint employer rule expands bargaining obligations and liability for labor violations for employers that have power over working conditions, even if workers are hired through a third party or by franchisees of a larger franchise. The regulation ensures that union members can bargain with each company that has the power to make changes in the workplace. A two-thirds majority in the House and Senate would be required to overturn the veto, an unlikely scenario as an overwhelming majority of congressional Democrats endorse the rule."

Union Busting

May 30, 2024 | KVUE

“Lawmakers are urging for an investigation into Google following allegations that it retaliated against unionizing workers. The calls, led by Congressman Greg Casar (D-Texas), come after YouTube Music contract workers found out they were laid off during an Austin City Council meeting earlier this year. The workers, who were employed through Cognizant, became a union through the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU-CWA) and went on strike after citing unfair working conditions. During a February city council meeting, YouTube Music worker Jack Benedict spoke before the council to support their cause toward bringing their employers to the negotiating table with their union. Instead, he and roughly 40 of his team members learned their contracts had ended during his speech."

May 29, 2024 | HuffPost

“Every year, U.S. employers spend millions of dollars on outside consultants who specialize in breaking up union campaigns. Because much of that work is cloaked in secrecy, progressive groups are urging the Biden administration to crack down and make it more transparent. A paper released Wednesday recommends that the Labor Department force employers and their consultants to make greater financial disclosures related to anti-union spending so workers can better understand who’s being paid to lobby them. The authors write that the firms are “deploying increasingly aggressive tactics to dissuade employees from unionizing."


June 4, 2024 | The Wall Street Journal

“It started with posting memes on Facebook and has grown into a national labor-organizing campaign. The target: unionizing pharmacists at CVS, Walgreens and other chains. With social-media handles like “The Accidental Pharmacist,” “RxComedy” and the hashtag #PizzaIsNotWorking, a small group of social-media influencers late last year co-founded the Pharmacy Guild, a union affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. This new breed of labor organizers are pushing for more staffing, which they say will alleviate prescription backlogs and ease the frustrations of customers. The organizers also seek better wages and benefits, especially for the workhorses of the pharmacy called technicians who often put the pills in bottles.”

May 31, 2024 | WVUA

The United Auto Workers is challenging the results of the recent unionization vote at the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International plant in Vance. The UAW filed an objection to the National Labor Relations Board a week after the vote to unionize failed. The union said Mercedes used “relentless anti-union campaign marked with unlawful discipline, unlawful captive audience meetings, and a general goal of coercing and intimidating employees.”

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