Resolution for 2015 Oregon AFL-CIO convention


WHEREAS, unions are required by law to represent all employees in a bargaining unit, whether they are union members or not; and

WHEREAS, at least two “right-to-work” initiatives, allowing workers in unionized public sector jobs to avoid paying for their representation, are in the process of becoming ballot measures in Oregon; and

WHEREAS, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a main sponsor of misnamed “right-to-work” initiatives in the Pacific Northwest, financed by union-bashers such as the Koch Brothers and Wal-Mart, is pushing lawsuit against SEIU Local 503 which represents over 20,000 home care workers in Oregon; and

WHEREAS, the unionization of the largely minority home health care workers in the state has raised their wages by more than two-thirds, as well as providing medical and health coverage; and

WHEREAS, unionization has boosted the wages and job security of all workers and particularly of African American, Latino, Native American and immigrant workers; and

WHEREAS, the anti-labor ballot measures are designed to undermine and financially ruin public sector unions which are vital to the welfare and living standards of all workers; and

WHEREAS, ballot measures in Oregon are part of a national campaign by corporations and their political supporters to destroy unions and wipe out the gains won by organized labor; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Supreme Court last July agreed to hear a case that could eliminate “fair-share” fees paid to public sector unions, in effect creating a national “right-to-work” law by judicial fiat; and

WHEREAS, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, after eliminating collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in 2011 and now ramming through a state “right-to-work” law, is campaigning for such a law nationally; and

WHEREAS, the same forces backing these union-busting laws such as Illinois governor Bruce Rauner want to eliminate the minimum wage entirely rather than raising it to a living wage; and

WHEREAS, support for these measures in Oregon comes from big lumber, including Freres Lumber Co. and Stimson Lumber Co. and right-wing politicians such as Washington County Attorney, Jill Gibson; and

WHEREAS, workers in “right-to-work” states earn substantially lower wages, have less employer-sponsored health insurance or pensions and significantly higher workplace death rates due to weakened union protections; and

WHEREAS, the experience of Michigan, where anti-union forces pushed through “right-to-work” laws with a stealth campaign while organized labor did little to stop them, shows the danger of complacency; and

WHEREAS, backroom deals with legislators and state officials will not stop a determined employer offensive; and

WHEREAS, the union-bashing offensive that began even before the 1981 PATCO air controllers strike, which many other unions failed to support, shows that a failure to fight has disastrous results; and

WHEREAS, the powerful labor mobilization in Wisconsin in 2011 demonstrated that the public will enthusiastically back unions when they fight, despite anti-labor media campaigns; and

WHEREAS, the failure of Wisconsin unions to call a state-wide strike at the crucial moment, even after preparing for one, led to a devastating defeat while the strategy of a “recall” and voter turnout campaigns predictably failed to repeal “right-to-work” legislation in Wisconsin; and

WHEREAS, the power of our unions rests in our ability to use our economic strength in defense of our rights as workers, and failure to use that power only emboldens the labor-haters; and

WHEREAS, we have had enough of the one-sided class war waged by profit-greedy bosses,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that this body expresses the determination of Oregon workers to whatever it takes to defeat any such union-busting laws, including using our right to strike to defend the union shop; and be it further

RESOLVED, that we urge Oregon and Washington unions and their supporters to mobilize at “right-to-work” events with rallies, marches and other means to expose the drive by cutthroat employers to drive our wages to the bottom while they make billions in profits from our labor; and be it further

RESOLVED, that area unions should prepare a major region-wide stop-work action against this effort to impoverish workers by using the courts and the rest of their legal arsenal; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Oregon AFL-CIO will encourage and support any affiliated locals collecting dues from represented workers directly, in order to stymie employer attempts to cripple labor financially; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that in defending union independence from the bosses and standing together in defense of all those threatened by the employers’ assault, WE HAVE THE POWER TO DEFEAT THE WAR ON WORKERS, BUT WE MUST USE THAT POWER OR LOSE IT.

Support Pasco Teachers: Down with Washington’s Slave-Labor Law!

SEATTLE, Washington – Schools here remain closed today, Friday, September 11 on the fourth day of the strike by public school teachers, the first in 30 years. While the Seattle strike has grabbed national attention, teachers in the southeastern Washington city of Pasco have been on strike since September 1, and are still out in defiance of a court order. As in public schools across the country, teachers have been squeezed by low wages, lack of basic classroom supplies including textbooks, overemphasis on standardized testing, and a dictatorial administration that will not allow teachers, parents or students any input in curriculum development.

150812 Pasco teachers vote to strike nbc
Pasco, WA teachers voted overwhelmingly in August to strike.

On Friday September 4, Franklin County Judge Alex Ekstrom ordered the teachers to return to work Tuesday, after the Labor Day weekend. Under Washington State’s slave labor laws, strikes by public employees are illegal. While the school board refuses to meet with union representatives, the court is set to fine the local union two thousand dollars per day, and individual union executive board members an additional $250 per day. But Pasco teachers courageously refused to bow to the slave-labor injunction and are continuing their strike as of Friday. (A court hearing is scheduled for today to begin imposing the draconian fines.)

Pasco is the largely immigrant city where Antonio Zambrano Montes, a Mexican agricultural worker, was shot down in cold blood by police last February. On Wednesday, the Franklin County prosecutor outrageously announced that no charges would be brought against the cops who gunned down the unarmed Zambrano in a hail of 17 bullets, despite cellphone video recording of the murder seen by millions. However, there may still be a coroner’s jury hearing. Class Struggle Workers – Portland and the Internationalist Group have actively supported protesters in Pasco, who have been hit by a number of arrests. A CSWP fundraiser was held in July to raise money for their defense. A demonstration against this racist injustice will be held in Pasco tomorrow.

Pasco and Seattle teachers are fighting for decent education for their students, and are now standing for the fundamental freedoms of all workers. They must have the support of working people and the labor movement throughout Washington and the country. Smash the slave-labor law! Victory to the teachers!

Pasco teachers continue strike on September 8 despite injunction.
Pasco teachers continue strike on September 8 despite injunction.

Contributions and messages of solidarity should be sent to the Pasco Association of Educators, 2318 W Court St, Pasco, WA 99301.

Bridge City Militant No. 1

Bridge City Militant No. 1, Fall 2015Bridge City Militant No. 1 is out! To get your union-printed copy, contact CSWP.

In this issue: