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The Oregon Labor Dispatch: May 31, 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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Must Read 

May 22, 2024 | National Employment Law Project

“App-based ridehail and delivery corporations have been honing their tactics to block the communities they serve from having any say in their operations, allowing these corporations to exploit drivers and riders not only to drive money into the hands of wealthy executives and Wall Street, but also to maintain governing power over a burgeoning industry. This is part of a larger pattern of corporations buying, bullying, and bamboozling their way into controlling workers and their communities across the country to continue to exploit them for profit.”

Pacific Northwest Labor

May 29, 2024 | Reuters

“Boeing and a union representing about 125 of its firefighters said Wednesday they had reached a tentative contract deal, the planemaker and union said in a joint statement. Boeing in early May locked out members of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local I-66 after they rejected two contract offers - a move that drew the concern of President Joe Biden. Boeing and IAFF Local I-66 said they expected results of a vote Thursday on the deal "that would end the lockout and months of negotiations. This tentative agreement addresses the needs of our firefighters and the company.”

May 28, 2024 | KLCC

“The University of Oregon is starting negotiations with its unionized student workers. UO Student Workers represents between 3,500 and 4,000 employees across the school’s dining halls, dormitories and other facilities. In last October's union election, participating students voted overwhelmingly to join. They’re seeking higher wages, more paid training and protections against workplace harassment. “We've heard so many things from student workers of supervisors being inappropriate towards them, or people constantly being misgendered on the job,” said union organizer Carolyn Roderique. “It really impacts the quality of life, and the work that student workers can do.” The union is now an affiliate of United Auto Workers, and has agreed an initial negotiating session with the university on May 29.”

May 28, 2024 | People’s World

“The 300 delegates to the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) COPE conference, on May 18, endorsed dozens of candidates and unanimously approved the drive to defeat three “backward” Republican ballot initiatives in the Nov. 5 election. During the lunch break, they boarded school buses and traveled to join the picket line of 177 locked-out Boeing firefighters. It was a day of nonstop labor movement activism, and labor’s kickoff in the crucial 2024 elections. The union leaders, women and men, African American, Latino, Asian American, Native American, and white, packed the biggest meeting hall of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 751 in south Seattle. Many unions were represented by large numbers of delegates–Longshore (ILWU), Electricians (IBEW), Machinists (IAM), Teamsters (IBT), Teachers (WEA and AFT), Public Employees (AFSCME and UAW), Transit (ATU), and many others.”

May 28, 2024 | The Stand

“Two hundred and sixty healthcare workers in the professional bargaining unit at PeaceHealth Southwest successfully won their union election May 23 by a rate of 80 percent for Home Health and 65 percent for hospital-based staff. These workers joined 1,700 other PeaceHealth healthcare professionals affiliated with the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), a local of the 1.7 million AFT Nurses and Health Professionals.”

May 28, 2024 | The Columbian

“Unionization efforts across the health care field continue to increase in Clark County and beyond as workers steadily organize to secure more workplace protections. Health care workers say they hope to secure better working conditions, pay equity, safe staffing and protection from workplace violence, especially in the wake of the pandemic when many nurses said they felt overworked and undervalued. “It’s one of the best opportunities for us to have a voice that can directly result in change. That to me is a big reason why I’m in favor of people unionizing,” said David Watson, a hospice social worker at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. “I think it’s a way to make various systems better and have ripple effects for the community.“

May 23, 2024 |AFSCME

“Mental Health Awareness Month — observed in May since 1949 — is a time to focus on the challenges faced by millions of Americans living with mental health conditions. It’s also a time to honor AFSCME behavioral health members who help people cope with and overcome such challenges. As case managers, residential coordinators, outreach specialists, counselors and so much more in the public and private sectors, AFSCME members are on the front lines, making a real difference for individuals and families, and helping them on their journeys towards mental wellness.”

May 23, 2024 | Oregon AFL-CIO 

“Oregon Labor showed up in full force for the 2024 primary election this May 21st to help secure resounding victories for endorsed candidates across the state. Issues that matter most to working people and their families–like healthcare, housing, education, the environment, and a fair and just economy–were all on the line.“

Union Culture

May 28, 2024 | KPBS

“Sí se puede".... yes we can. That famous slogan is now a rallying cry for activists across the globe, but it all started with Dolores Huerta. On Midday Edition Tuesday, Huerta shares her life's work in laying the foundation for the labor and civil rights activism seen today. Huerta was honored with the "Lifetime Achievement Award" at San Diego’s annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast late last week. Then, we take a dive into the history of the labor movement here in San Diego. We focus on the San Diego Free Speech Fight of 1912 — when members of the Industrial Workers of the World fought a city ordinance that banned free speech in an area of downtown San Diego..”

May 24, 2024 | People’s World

“Staying neutral means staying silent. It means risking the rights of workers and the civil rights of all. It means the continuation of unemployment and poor wages while the powerful continue to get richer.” That’s the warning from Fred Redmond, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO and the highest-ranking Black trade unionist in the country. Redmond was speaking to over 1,200 Black, Latino/a, Asian, Arab, Indigenous, and white delegates and guests at the 53rd International Convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) that filled the Houston Marriott Marquis Hotel convention center on Thursday morning. Founded in 1972, the CBTU has been a driving force for trade union militancy and diversity and has been holding the labor movement accountable since its inception.”

May 24, 2024 | Politico

“Across the country, labor is having a moment: Historic United Auto Workers wins (and some losses) in the union-resistant South, Amazon factory organizing, Hollywood’s SAG-AFTRA strike and Starbucks workers’ union fight have dominated headlines this year. “I am riding that wave and loving every minute of it,” Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of union workers, tells Women Rule. As waves of labor activism sweep the country, women of color are leading union growth, while union women in construction and manufacturing are raising labor and safety standards for all workers. Within unions — spaces once largely dominated by white men — leaders say they are pushing women of all races and men of color to take on leadership roles and incentivizing women to join previously male-dominated industries.”

May 23, 2024 | Intelligencer

“And so I would say there’s been a sea change in the number of women leading. Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO. Becky Pringle and Randi Weingarten lead education unions. And they’ve had more of a history of women leaders than SEIU, because I’m the first woman leader at this level for our union. So there’s been a sea change, and I would say we still have a long way to go.”

Union Busting

May 28, 2024 | HuffPost

Mercedes-Benz USA hired a large team of anti-union consultants to help the company defeat an organizing effort by the United Auto Workers union earlier this month, according to new disclosures with the Labor Department. The filings show the automaker contracted with three consulting firms to bring on at least 11 “persuaders” to hold meetings with workers about the union ahead of an election. Employees at the Vance, Alabama, plant ultimately voted 2,045 to 2,642 against forming a union, a setback for the UAW as it tries to organize Southern auto facilities. Employers often spend big bucks to hire persuaders to hold what are known as “captive audience” meetings — mandatory gatherings where workers tend to hear anti-union talking points. The going rate these days is around $3,200 per day for each consultant."

May 24, 2024 | Reuters

“The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is seeking a new election at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama after losing a vote there last week, according to a petition filed on Friday with the National Labor Relations Board. The union accused Mercedes (MBGn.DE), opens new tab of engaging "in a relentless anti-union campaign" including the firing of employees who were pro-union and holding frequent captive-audience meetings to spread anti-union views, according to the filing."

Collective Bargaining

May 28, 2024 | AP

“A law that drew massive protests and made Wisconsin the center of a national fight over union rights is back in court on Tuesday, facing a new challenge from teachers and public workers brought after the state’s Supreme Court flipped to liberal control. The 2011 law, known as Act 10, imposed a near-total ban on collective bargaining for most public employees. It has withstood numerous legal challenges and was the signature legislative achievement of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who used it to mount a presidential run. The law catapulted Walker onto the national stage, sparked an unsuccessful recall campaign, and laid the groundwork for his failed 2016 presidential bid. It also led to a dramatic decrease in union membership across the state. If the latest lawsuit succeeds, all public sector workers who lost their collective bargaining power would have it restored. They would be treated the same as the police, firefighter and other public safety unions who remain exempt."


May 28, 2024 | Venture Beat

“Unions have become more common in the games industry over the last five years, forming at places like Activision, ZeniMax, Sega, and more as developers seek to negotiate better pay and workplace policies. It’s a promising start, but there’s still so much more that can be done. At GamesBeat Summit 2024, IGDA executive director Jakin Vela and actor Zeke Alton spoke about the power of unionization and how it can help video game workers. Vela said that although a majority of developers are supportive of unions, there’s still some misunderstanding about what they do thanks to anti-union propaganda and other myths that continue to persist.”

Workplace Safety

May 23, 2024 | High Country News

“Until recently, that has been a challenge, as effective PFAS-free gear has not been readily available. But earlier this year, five fire departments, including San Francisco and Denver, began testing PFAS-free turnouts. The reception has been positive, said Neil McMillan, director of science and research at the International Association of Fire Fighters, a labor union for firefighters in the U.S. and Canada. Though official results won’t be available until summer, McMillan said that, so far, firefighters have reported “no differences or trade-offs in performance.”

Workforce Development

May 23, 2024 | Governing

“The public transit industry employs 430,000 workers and is anticipating 243,000 job openings for mechanics over the next decade, according to a report from TransitCenter. The industry should build on successful partnerships between agencies, labor unions and high schools and colleges to recruit a more diverse maintenance workforce, the report says.”


May 29, 2024 | Center for Economic Progress

“[W]hat emerges is an administration committed to ensuring that American workers remain at the forefront of the world’s transition to a cleaner future and one that fully understands the need for climate action to remain politically sustainable and resilient.”

May 23, 2024 | Bloomberg

“President Joe Biden is nominating US National Labor Relations Board Chair Lauren McFerran for a new five-year term, moving to lock in the Democrat ahead of the 2024 election. Reconfirming McFerran this year would ensure Democrats retain a majority on the labor board, even if the party loses control of the White House or US Senate in the November election. Biden appointed McFerran as NLRB chair on his first day in office and on her watch, the agency has issued major union-friendly rulings.”

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