written by Justin Norton-Kertson
In the wake of recent local contract victories for a $15 minimum wage a slew of new endorsements have been coming in steadily. Over the past week the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT), Teamsters Local 206, Oregon Nurses Association (ONA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49, and Professional & Technical Employees (PTE) Local 17 have all endorsed a $15 minimum wage for all of Oregon, as well the repeal of the state’s preemption law that prohibits cities and other local governments from raising the minimum wage for all workers.
PAT represents the K12 teachers at Portland Public Schools, which is Oregon’s largest school district. Early in 2014, when Portland’s teachers were on the verge of the walking out on strike, the community rallied behind them providing both material and moral support. Throngs of community members came together to figure out how to feed strikers, their families, and students who are on free and reduced lunch programs. People all over the city worked together to organize free childcare for families who could not afford to take time off work or pay extra money for daycare.
But it is not only the high degree of respect and solidarity this community has for our teachers that makes this endorsement so important, but also because they live their lives on the front lines of the War on Poverty. Not only do teachers provide our youth with tools that one day can hopefully help lift them out of poverty, but everyday teachers witness first hand the devastating effects that poverty has on some of our society’s most vulnerable. They see the effects that poverty has not only in students’ classroom performance, but also in their personal, peer, and family lives. This makes our teachers a vital ally in the Fight for $15 here in Portland and all of Oregon!
Teamsters Local 206 represents over 2,500 Portland-area workers in retail sales, distribution, and warehousing.
ONA was founded in 1904 and represents over 12,500 nurses. ONA is a constituent member of the American Nurses Association, and is also affiliated with the National Federation of Nurses.
SEIU Local 49 represents over 10,000 workers throughout Oregon and southwest Washington. The membership includes healthcare workers, security guards, and custodians. Local 49 is currently organizing subcontracted workers who work at the Portland International Airport such as fuelers, cabin cleaners, baggage handlers, ramp agents, ticket agents, wheelchair attendants and skycaps.
PTE Local 17 represents workers in Oregon and Washington such as engineers, information technology experts, and environmental and health experts, as well as professional and technical workers in other public sector fields.
15 Now PDX welcomes the endorsement of all of these unions, and looks forward to working together to build a strong and active coalition to Fight for $15!