Category Archives: Events – Recent

April 15 National Day of Action for $15 and a Union

Wednesday April 15, 12pm, O’Byrant Square downtown Portland.fbInvite

Organized by 15 Now PDX, Portland Jobs with Justice, SEIU Locals 49 & 503, Oregon AFSCME, and LIUNA Local 483

 

Join PSU workers, janitors, food service workers, care providers, city workers, community and other allies here in Portland as we continue the Fight for $15 and a union!

Fast-food workers, homecare workers, Walmart workers, airport workers, convenient store workers and others are coming together to fight income inequality by demanding $15 and union. Across the country, workers have engaged in walkouts and one-day strikes to make their demands. On April 15 here in Portland, Janitors will be highlighted in joining in the national day of action and Fight for $15!

Join us at 12pm at O’Bryant Square in downtown Portland. We will have a short rally at the park and then we will march to various locations where workers in downtown Portland are currently engaged in the Fight for $15. There will chanting, marching, balloons, direct actions, and more!

Join us and Fight for $15. Because no one who works should live in poverty.

Organized by 15 Now PDX, Portland Jobs with Justice, SEIU Local 49, SEIU Local 503, AFSCME, LiUNA Local 483

$15 Minimum Wage Legislative Call-in Day TODAY!

HB 2009/SB 610 will raise Oregon’s minimum wage to $15/hr. The bill has been referred to the House Business and Labor Committee and the Senate Workforce Committee. The bill has to pass out of this committee if it is going to move to the floor for a vote. So we need to flood the phone lines of those committee members with calls in support of $15. Tell them to vote yes to raise Oregon’s minimum wage to $15, because in Oregon no one who works should live in poverty!

House Business and Labor Committee – HB 2009:
1) Rep. Shamia Fagan 503-986-1451
2) Rep. Bret Barton 503-986-1440
3) Rep. Margaret Doherty 503-986-1435
4) Rep. Paul Evans 503-986-1420
5) Rep. Paul Holvey (chair) 503-986-1408
6) Rep Rob Nosse 503-986-1442 (sponsor of $15)

Senate Workforce Committee – SB 610:
1) Sen. Michael Dembrow (chair) 503-986-1723 (sponsor of $15)
2) Sen. Diane Rosenbaum 503-986-1700 (sponsored $15 and $12 bills)
3) Sen. Sara Gelser 503-986-1708

It’s really quick and easy. All you have to do is call and say:

“Hi my name is_________. I want to tell Representative (Senator) ____________ to vote for a $15 minimum wage for Oregon. Because no one who works should live in poverty.”

or

“…Because we need to get working people out of poverty, off government assistance, and save taxpayers over $1.7 billion per year.”

Hundreds Rally at State Capitol for $15 Minimum Wage in Oregon

by Justin Norton-Kertson

On Saturday hundreds of Oregonians came out in force for a statewide rally on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol, where they called on legislators to make Oregon the first state to pass a $15 per hour minimum wage. The rally, organized by the 15 Now Oregon campaign, aims to continue gaining support from state legislators to raise the minimum wage in Oregon to $15 per hour.

Photo by Mark Colman
Photo by Mark Colman

Last November voters in four states – Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota – overwhelmingly approved ballot measures increasing their state minimum wages. Both Seattle and San Francisco have won $15 per hour minimum wages. In December, home care, fast food and retail workers walked off the job in over 150 U.S. cities to demand a $15 minimum wage. While here in Oregon, Multnomah County employees recently won $15 as did seasonal parks workers in the City of Portland.

“15 Now’s campaign has completely shifted the framework of discussion around raising the minimum wage in Oregon. The labor community supports $15, community organizations and legislators are jumping on board. No one is talking about $12 or $13 because everyone knows those are still poverty wages. We are the first state to have a serious conversation about raising the minimum wage to $15/hr. Oregon needs $15, and we’re going to win $15,” says Justin Norton-Kertson, organizer for 15 Now PDX.

Building on this momentum, the rally brings further attention to the issue of poverty wages in the state of Oregon where, according to a recent LERC report out of the University of Oregon, taxpayers spend $1.7 billion per year to subsidize low wages. The rally is the start of a series of efforts to draw public attention and support for the campaign and for the minimum wage bill being introduced this legislative session. That bill will raise Oregon’s minimum wage to $15 per hour over a three year phase in, and currently has 16 legislative sponsors.

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Photo by Joshua Hanks

Food service and retail workers, school employees, home care workers, state and city workers, farm workers, trades workers and more came together from across the state to demonstrate their support for the increase. Attendees heard speeches from leaders of the AFL-CIO, PCUN, CAUSA, Don’t Shoot PDX, SEIU, OSEA, OEA, PAT, and others. Low-wage workers themselves also took to the stage to tell their stories. Their personal stories highlight the dire need for a much higher minimum wage in Oregon, and illustrate the limitations of the current statewide minimum wage. At $9.25 an hour, full-time workers in Oregon are living in poverty.

Ramon Ramirez, PCUN president. Photo by Mark Colman.
Ramon Ramirez, PCUN president. Photo by Mark Colman.
Lorena Manzo, lead organizer CAUSA. Photo by Mark Colman.
Lorena Manzo, lead organizer CAUSA. Photo by Mark Colman.
Photo by Mark Colman
Photo by Mark Colman
Tom Chamberain, Oregon AFL-CIO president
Tom Chamberain, Oregon AFL-CIO president. Photo by Mark Colman.
Teresa Raiford of Don't Shoot PDX. Photo by Mark Colman.
Teresa Raiford of Don’t Shoot PDX. Photo by Mark Colman.
Hanna Vaandering, president of the Oregon Education Association. Photo by Mark Colman.
Hanna Vaandering, president of the Oregon Education Association. Photo by Mark Colman.

When asked why she is fighting for a $15 minimum wage Rebecca Sandoval, a home care worker said, “This is as much about giving our work the dignity it deserves as it is about the needed economic security that a living wage will mean for thousands of home care workers.

Sarah Kowaleski, a low-wage office worker with the City of Portland's Department of Parks and Recreation, addresses the crowd. Photo by Mark Colman.
Sarah Kowaleski, a low-wage office worker with the City of Portland’s Department of Parks and Recreation, addresses the crowd. Photo by Mark Colman.
Walmart workers Ismael and Jennifer from Klamath talk about fighting for $15 at Walmart. Two days after the rally Ismael was fired by Walmart for organizing for $15 and full time hours. Photo by Mark Colman.
Walmart workers Ismael and Jennifer from Klamath talk about fighting for $15 at Walmart. Two days after the rally Ismael was fired by Walmart for organizing for $15 and full time hours. Photo by Mark Colman.

Anne McDonnell, a food service worker at the Oregon Zoo had a similar response: “$15 is important to me because as a service industry worker, even when hours are aplenty there’s still famine because the cost of everything goes up while wages stagnate.”

Photo by Mark Colman
Photo by Mark Colman

At one point during the rally “Ronald McDonald” and “Wally Wal-Mart” interrupted and tried to take over the event. They claimed that they owned Oregon’s government and that no one could stop them from busting unions and keeping wages low so they can get richer. They were confronted by Oregon Zoo worker Anne McDonnell, as well as by a young boy from the crowd, who had the clowns quickly escorted off the stage to roaring applause. 

Photo by Mark Colman
Photo by Mark Colman
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Photo by Mark Colman

At the end of the rally the assembled crowd of some 500 people left the steps of the capitol and marched through the stress of Salem. At one point they stopped at nearby McDonald’s where they chanted “No burgers, no fries, we want wages super-sized!” and “Pay your workers $15 now!”

Hundreds of $15 minimum wage supporters march through Oregon's state capitol. Photo by Hyung Kim.
Hundreds of $15 minimum wage supporters march through Oregon’s state capitol. Photo by Hyung Kim.
Photo by Hyung Kim.
Photo by Hyung Kim.

 

Marchers at McDonald's. Photo by Hyung Kim.
Marchers at McDonald’s. Photo by Hyung Kim.

The crowd moved on from there, but quickly dispersed into a nearby church where a statewide 15 Now Oregon networking meeting was planned. At the meeting over one hundred activists from Portland, The Dalles, La Grande, Woodburn, Salem, Eugene, Springfield, Medford, Ashland, Klamath, Clackamas, Beaverton, and other cities heard campaign updates, and broke into groups according to city and region where activists networked with other people to begin making plans for the Fight for $15 in their local areas.

15 Now is building and as the amazing turnout at the rally shows, the people of Oregon are ready to Fight for $15! Help build this amazing movement. Donate to the campaign and volunteer with us to help lead the campaign to win a $15 minimum wage in Oregon.

Hundreds Rally in Portland, throughout Oregon to Support Striking Walmart Workers

For the first time, Walmart workers here in Oregon walked out on strike over Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Three workers at the Walmart in Klamath Falls walked out on Wednesday, and members of the community came out to the store to support them.

 

 

After Wednesday’s rally at their own store, the workers traveled to Medford and Portland where they participated in community rallies in support of them, and against Walmart’s unfair labor practices.

Striking workers and supporters outside of Walmart in Klamath Falls, OR.
Striking workers and supporters outside of Walmart in Klamath Falls, OR.
Supporters rally for striking Walmart workers in Medford, OR.
Supporters rally for striking Walmart workers in Medford, OR.

Here in Portland, the striking workers and a small group of supporters delivered a letter to the store’s management. The letter demands that the company end its illegal efforts to silence workers who are standing up for better jobs at the mega-retailer.

At one point, another small group of people marched through the store chanting “What are we gonna do? Fight For $15!” Outside the store, hundreds of supporters – including local residents, concerned taxpayers and community leaders – rallied and called on Walmart and its owners, the Waltons, to stop hurting families and commit to raise pay to a minimum of $15/hr and provide consistent, full-time work.

 

Hundreds rally in Portland in support of striking Walmart workers.
Hundreds rally in Portland in support of striking Walmart workers.

Speakers at the rally included the striking workers as well as representatives from Portland Jobs with Justice, 15 Now PDX, UFCW, and Oregon AFL-CIO. The speakers thanked the striking workers for their courage and determination, encouraged the community to stand behind them and fight with them,  vowed to win $15 for all of Oregon, and drew parallels between the systemic problems of poverty, racism, and police violence.

Striking Walmart workers speak to supporters in Portland, OR.
Striking Walmart workers speak to supporters in Portland, OR.

Across the country, tens of thousands of people and thousands of Walmart workers from over 2,200 Walmart stores, including stores all over Oregon, have signed a petition demanding that Walmart raise wages to a minimum of $15/hr and give workers access to full-time hours. Nationwide, workers and supporters planned and engaged in 1,600 strikes and protests at Walmart stores on Black Friday.

BF_1BF_2

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Don’t Shoot PDX came out to stand in solidarity with striking Walmart workers.

The Fight for $15 Shakes Awake the U.S. Labor Movement

Something big is happening. The union-led victories for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle and San Francisco have reverberated throughout the labor movement, spawning copycat campaigns across the country. Most notably the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is nationally demanding $15 for its home care workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is demanding $15 for Walmart workers as a strategy to finally unionize the mega-corporation. Other unions with low wage members are demanding and winning $15 at the bargaining table.

Only a year ago a $15 minimum wage was denounced as “crazy.” But Seattle and San Francisco proved it was possible, and now $15 has seized the imagination of people across the country, pushing them into action.

By fighting for and winning a $15 minimum wage across the country, labor unions can win better contracts for low-wage workers, organize new members, raise the status of unions and defend against anti-union attacks such as the Harris vs. Quinn Supreme Court decision. After winning $15, unions will be empowered enough to put forth new demands that can bring even more people into the labor movement.

In San Francisco it was SEIU Local 1021 that led the victorious campaign for a $15 minimum wage, building a comprehensive community and labor coalition within the San Francisco labor movement. The Vice President of politics for SEIU 1021, Alysabeth Alexander, recently spoke at a public event in Portland, Oregon.

According to Alexander, there are several key lessons to take from their fight for $15 in San Francisco.

1) Build Strong Coalitions.

Unions and workers’ organizations are powerful when they act collectively, and forming an unbreakable union coalition was the backbone of the $15 campaign in San Francisco. Once united, the labor movement found its voice and realized its power.

In response to an off-the-cuff statement by SF Mayor Ed Lee that a $15 hour minimum wage was worth “considering,” SEIU 1021 went into action. When Mayor Lee was having a meeting with business leaders to discuss the city’s growing wealth disparities, SEIU 1021 staged a protest outside for a $15 minimum wage.

Just days later progressive unions and community labor organizations came together to discuss the real possibilities of passing such a wage increase. In order to create leverage and make the minimum wage fight real, SEIU 1021 filed for a ballot measure for a straight $15 minimum wage and the coalition began to collect signatures. While gathering signatures, the coalition was faced with real decisions of how to balance the demand for $15 with the possibility that the Mayor could put a lower minimum wage measure on the ballot with the support of the business community and city-funded non-profits, thereby creating the potential of all-out war.

According to Alysabeth Alexander:

“There were a lot of balls in the air — the same coalition that was pushing the minimum wage increase was also fighting to close loopholes to our health care ordinance, and pass a ‘retail workers bill of rights’ and ‘fair scheduling’ law. Overall, we created leverage through having an aggressive pro-worker agenda, focusing on positive media and in-depth features of low-wage workers, and by having full discussions within the coalition. We didn’t agree every step of the way, but we kept talking and listening to each other. This made us a strong coalition and built an incredible amount of trust between all the groups involved.”

The Mayor tried several tactics to pressure the unions to drop their $15 demand, going so far as putting forward a “last and final offer,” to which the unions responded “that’s a non-starter.” The balance of power had tipped towards the coalition, which felt empowered to act boldly.

2) Control the process.

According to Alysabeth Alexander, the politicians and business interests in San Francisco were eager to get involved to “work together” with the unions to draft minimum wage legislation, with the likely intention of injecting dozens of loopholes, and extending the phase-in time for implementation.

This is the key reason why the $15 legislation in San Francisco is superior to Seattle’s victory: in Seattle the politicians maneuvered to get a seat at the table in drafting the legislation, while in San Francisco the coalition wrote a strong ballot initiative where they were willing to make only a few concessions. San Francisco’s union-led coalition bargained from a position of strength, essentially imposing their will on politicians.

This example can be copied in cities and states that have a ballot initiative process, where unions can immediately bring a $15 minimum wage to the voters.

3) Control the narrative.

Too often labor and community groups fall victim to the business-friendly media or corporate-friendly politicians, whose communications skills and talking points prioritize the needs of corporations while putting unions on the media defensive.

SEIU 1021 changed this dynamic by taking the initiative, grounding all of their talking points on the premise of “no one deserves poverty wages.” They used this point as a foundation and added workers’ stories about trying to live on minimum wage. They took complete control of the conversation, and politicians were never able to recapture it, since “no one deserves poverty wages” is irrefutable.

Conclusions:

By building a strong coalition of labor and community groups and boldly putting forth a demand for a $15 minimum wage, the unions in San Francisco and Oakland lifted up tens of thousands of workers, and consequently uplifted the status and power of unions in the Bay Area.

Once the coalition acted as a united, independent force, the Mayor and other politicians saw the writing on the wall; it would have been political suicide to publicly oppose the extremely popular $15 ballot initiative, which a stunning 77 percent of San Franciscans voted in favor of.

The $15 minimum wage is a demand that has been gift-wrapped to the national labor movement. Fighting for and winning $15 strengthens the status of unions in the community and consequently helps shield against anti-union attacks. The demand is $15 and unions and community groups needn’t settle for anything less.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, 15 Now PDX Steering Committee member, and writer for Workers Action

Movement to Raise Minimum Wage to $15 Keeps Growing; Activists Demand Change to State Law

This article first appeared in Portland Occupier

“I’m here, and I’m tired, and I’m speaking out with all the strength that I have. We need 15 now.”

Those words, spoken by Janice Niag, a First Student bus driver, demanding changes to the City’s Fair Wage Policy summed up the feeling at SEIU Local 49 Hall on October 20. Over 100 people attended the community meeting organized by the 15 Now Oregon campaign, which has been gathering momentum for many months in its drive to get the City to change its minimum wage for contract workers to $15 an hour.

15 Now Oregon is also pushing the Oregon legislature to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour and overturn the preemption clause that forbids local governments from raising the private sector minimum wage in their jurisdictions.

Niag was among a handful of people who gave anecdotal force to the litany of facts and statistics presented by Lewis and Clark College economics professor Martin Hart-Landsberg. Hart-Landsberg painted a bleak picture of the past 40 years, showing how the wealthy have gained vast control over the US political system through concerted effort that results in legislation and court decisions that continuously funnel more and more wealth upward. These changes–tax code makeovers, the diminution of people’s rights to organize, greater militarization of the economy and erroneously named free trade agreements–all contribute to an economy that “works very well for an increasingly small percentage of the population and that works very poorly for the rest of us,” Hart-Landsberg said.

Read the full article here

City janitors, security guards, parking attendants, stadium workers seek a $15/hr fair wage

by Jamie Partridge

Riding the momentum of the national 15 Now movement for a $15 minimum wage, City of Portland contract workers and over 100 of their allies demanded improvements in the city’s Fair Wage Policy at a community hearing in southeast Portland tonight.

Click here to read the proposed improvements to the City of Portland’s Fair Wage Policy

Jackie Dingfelder from Mayor Hales office, and Brendan Finn and Matt Grumm from Commissioner Saltzman’s office received petitions with over five thousand Oregonian signatures calling for a fifteen dollar per hour minimum wage.

CouncilReps
Representatives of Mayor Hales and Commissioner Saltzman listen to worker testimony at the Community Hearing on the City of Portland’s Fair Wage Policy.

Oregon House Representative Rob Nosse, who represents the district around the union hall where the hearing was held, and House Speaker Tina Kotek delivered solidarity statements encouraging city commissioners to raise wages for city contract workers.  Nosse is introducing a $15 minimum wage bill in the Oregon legislature in 2015.

NosseSpeaking
Oregon State House Representative Rob Nosse giving solidarity statements on behalf of himself and Speaker of the State House, Tina Kotek.

Click here to make a donation and support the effort to raise Portland’s Fair Wage Policy to $15

The City of Portland adopted a Fair Wage Policy in 1998, thanks to a Living Wage campaign led by Jobs with Justice.  That wage, for janitors, security guards, parking attendants, stadium workers and others at companies which contract with the City, is currently at $10.38/ hour plus $1.92 for benefits.  Speakers at the hearing asked the questions:  Is this a living wage in Portland?  Should tax dollars be spent keeping workers in poverty?  Are enough workers covered?  Is monitoring and enforcement adequate? Advocates are demanding the policy be changed to $15/ hour in wages plus an additional $2.20/ hour for benefits.
Testimony1
Linda Sporer, a security guard in Portland, talks about not being able to afford to take her grandkids out to dinner on her low-wage job.
Testimony2
Maggie Fraech, a civic stadium worker, shares that after a decades on the job, her pay has topped out at less than $12 per hour.
City Council staff and the assembled crowd heard moving testimony on struggle to make ends meet from a wide range of low-wage workers — a security guard, a civic stadium worker, a seasonal parks employee, a grocery worker, a bus driver – as well as an economist and a priest who each spoke about the importance of addressing and ending income inequality.
Robbie Schaal, a seasonal parks worker in Portland, talks about the difficulties of paying bills with a low-wage seasonal job.
Robbie Schaal, a seasonal parks worker in Portland, talks about the difficulties of paying bills with a low-wage seasonal job.

appluase

Dingfelder, Finn and Grumm were asked by hearing organizers from 15 Now PDX to arrange a City Council hearing and a timeline for upgrading the Fair Wage Policy.  The commissioners’ representatives promised to bring the requests back to city hall.
 

15 Now Oregon Shows Growing Strength, Announces 2015 Legislation for a $15 Minimum Wage in Oregon

After recently delivering over 5,000 signatures in support of a $15 minimum wage at an economic fairness town hall meeting hosted by Oregon Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum and Representative Rob Nosse, the fight for a $15 minimum wage in Oregon continued to show its growing strength this week with the holding of the first statewide 15 Now Oregon general meeting.

Held at SEIU Local 503’s union hall and organized by 15 Now PDX, dozens of people attended the meeting including members from LiUNA 483, SEIU Locals 503 and 49, Oregon State Association of Letter Carriers, Oregon Education Association, Portland Association of Teachers, Rural Organizing Project, Health Care for All Oregon, the Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Alternative, and International Socialist Organization.  People came from all over Oregon to attended the meeting including from places such as Beaverton, Oregon City, Salem, Medford, and Ashland, and of course Portland. There are also new 15 Now chapters in The Dalles and Eugene that did not have representatives at the meeting. Low-wage professionals represented included various low wage food service and home care workers, who gave testimony about their stories and experiences with low paid work.

There was a welcome surprise at the meeting as it was announced that minimum wage bills for the 2015 state legislative session have been submitted to the state’s Legislative Counsel from both the Oregon State House and the Oregon Senate. The bills submitted include bills to raise Oregon’s minimum wage to $15/hr, and to repeal Oregon’s minimum wage preemption law that prevents cities from raising the minimum wage above the level set by the state. If the $15/hr minimum wage bill passes Oregon will be the first whole state to enact a $15 living wage, which will make Oregon the national leader on the minimum wage question.