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Introducing the Oregon Union Tracker
A regular digest of organized labor news & events across the state
It’s clear that workers in the United States are having a moment.
Multiple strikes are underway across a breadth of industries. Exorbitant executive pay rates and cultish devotion to shareholder wealth have become focal points to clearly animate the following American trend:
The very few hoard wealth and resources at the direct expense of the working class in America.
At Salem-Keizer Proletariat, we write through the working class lens with an eye on creating accountability for those that hold control the mechanisms of power and wealth in modern society.
To that end, we wanted to help keep better track of union activity here in Oregon. There is no shortage of politically motivated organizations that work to weaken working class solidarity in Oregon, and they operate mostly by advancing disinformation through well-built communication channels to an audience programmed to view unions in a negative light.
Salem-Keizer Proletariat grew up in a union household. And when the strikes went on for longer periods of time, it was union folks at our door with groceries & supplies. Anyway, to receive new posts and support this work, consider becoming a paid subscriber.
The Oregon Union Tracker is our attempt to create a steady stream of news, updates, events & other relevant happenings that demonstrates what is actually being done to create better conditions for working class Oregonians.
Here’s how it will work:
We’ll send out updates 3-4 times a month, depending on the volume of Oregon union news.
For events, we’re going to focus on the Salem-Keizer area but will include other events when it makes sense for our readers.
We will also include information and efforts in Oregon designed to spread disinformation about unions and campaigns aimed at scaring people away from union membership.
And here’s how it will look.
Our first batch of Oregon Union News goes a little something like this:
1. District seeks mediation with Salem-Keizer teacher union as budget shortfall looms (from Salem Reporter):
Salem-Keizer School District leaders are seeking state mediation to help resolve negotiations with its teacher union, saying the two sides’ proposals remain over $50 million apart on compensation after months of bargaining.
Tyler Scialo-Lakeberg, president of the Salem-Keizer Education Association, said she was surprised by the request for mediation Tuesday and that it raised transparency concerns. “We believe this is very premature. We’ve been making steady progress. We still have a long ways to go and there are many articles the district has yet to even respond to,” she said.
After 150 days of bargaining, either a government body or public employee union can request mediation unilaterally. Bargaining between the teacher union and district has been public for the first time this year, meaning anyone can observe as representatives from both sides negotiate.
Scialo-Lakeberg said a mediation process would be closed, preventing teachers from observing in detail.“We have been engaging our members a lot. We really believe in transparency and open dialogue and this is going to stop some of that,” she said.
Superintendent Andrea Castañeda announced the step Tuesday in a news conference. Her decision was prompted by the union’s Sept. 18 proposal for a 13.5% raise in the first year and 12.5% raise in the second year of the two-year contract, which district leaders say would cost $74.4 million over two years.
2. Auto workers in Beaverton join nationwide strike (from OPB):
More than 40 workers at the Chrysler Parts Distribution Center joined with 18,000 striking auto worker across the country who are demanding better pay and benefits, among other things.
The United Auto Workers Union strike started on Sept. 15 and expanded on Friday by more than 5,500 workers.
Strikes are targeting 30 U.S. locations run by General Motors and Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler and operator of the parts facility in Beaverton, where more than 40 workers are employed.
The UAW union said that more than 18,000 workers were on strike across the country as of Monday.
3. OHSU reaches contract deal with nurses union, avoiding strike (from The Oregonian):
Oregon Health & Science University has reached a tentative accord with more than 3,100 nurses in a deal that includes wage hikes of 15%, 6% and 6% in the next three years.
OHSU also pledged to spend at least $10 million to improve worker safety and achieve sufficient staffing to allow nurses to take their breaks and eat lunch or dinner.
4. Labor woes escalate at Portland schools after classified employees union turns down proposed contract (from The Oregonian):
Labor woes at Portland Public Schools compounded Monday when the 1,350 members of the Portland Federation of School Professionals voted to reject a proposed contract, sending the two sides back to the bargaining table.
The Portland Federal of School Professionals represents administrative assistants, occupational and physical therapists, paraeducators, library assistants and campus safety associates, among others.
Its president, John MacDuffee, said via a press release that members are “frustrated and exhausted. … The results of this vote indicate there is a lot of work still to do to improve the working conditions of our members.”
5. Local union president reacts to potential end of writer's strike (from KPIC):
A deal between the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) and Hollywood studios signaled the potential end of the nearly five-month long writer's strike. For hundreds of Oregon members of the union, the deal signals a return to work nearly 150 days in the making.
According to Bruce Lawson, local SAG-AFTRA member and president of IATSE Local 488, a union representing stage mechanics of the Pacific Northwest, says the strike was a necessary action.
“No one had an idea of how streaming would take off," Lawson says. "And the compensation that they have right now is just not sufficient. It needs to be made right and we all stand behind that.”
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