Strengthening Oregon unions
PORTLAND, Ore.--Seventy union members and their allies gathered at the Electricians hall here on June 25 to participate in a day-long unified labor strategy meeting.
The meeting, initiated by a resolution from Laborers Local 483, called for a real jobs creation program paid for by an end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and taxing the corporations who have returned to profitability on the back of workers.
Members of various unions--including laborers, musicians, painters, stagehands, pipefitters, hospital workers and social workers--turned out alongside members of community organizations such as housing–rights group Right to Survive and the Sunnyside Unemployed Group. Participants spent the day discussing campaigns to defend public workers, strategies to unite our movement and ways to put our resolution into action.
"The labor strategy meeting is a way for local unionists to come together and form connections," said Scott Gibson, president of Laborers Local 483, "and out of this meeting, we hope that a common vision will emerge that will help unite and strengthen Oregon labor unions."
As the vision statement for the meeting stated:
In the past three decades, the corporations and rich have succeeded in accumulating unprecedented amounts of wealth at the expense of working people. They have managed to tilt the playing field in their direction by successfully lobbying for lower taxes and deregulation.
The inequalities in wealth are now at historic highs, because the rich have gained at the expense of the rest of us...Organized labor, where working people are organized and mobilized, has immense power to help stop this decline and turn us in the right direction.
The conclusion that many who attended the meeting came to was that labor needs to unite and fight--and that the labor movement needs to include social justice struggles if we want to win.
For many who attended this meeting, there was a new sense of hope that fighting back and actually winning might be possible. As Ed Henderson of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 put it, "An injury to one is an injury to all!"