Labor Things We Can Do

The folks who brought you the 40-hour workweek…

I was pleased to see Larry Kleinman’s Op-Ed in the Statesman Journal this weekend, about how Oregon’s minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage, and he explains the role of Oregon’s unions in keeping us ahead of the feds. But, as Larry explains, the point here is that the unions don’t just wind up creating benefits for their own members:

Few, if any workers under union contracts in Oregon are paid the minimum wage. Organized labor’s role in raising the minimum wage demonstrates a commitment to boosting standards for all workers, not just union members. Like the bumper sticker says: “The weekend: brought to you by the labor movement.”

Yet another reason to support the Employee Free Choice Act — the right of workers to organize is a plus for workers even in workplaces that don’t choose to unionize. The more organized workers are, the better off all workers are.

I’ve been thinking about unions since re-reading Fast Food Nation last month (after seeing Food Inc), where Eric Schlosser talks in detail about the effects of union-busting on the food industry: specifically fast food workers and the slaughterhouse workers. I had to put down the book a few times as he talked about the deaths of workers in slaugherhouses and the changes to the meatpacking industry as it has switched to a mostly non-union workforce since the 1980s.

On so many levels, it’s true: workers need unions, and every worker, whether or not they want to be in a union, can support the right to organize for all workers. Take a minute to sign onto the “Million Member” campaign to show Congress that Americans support union choices for all workers.

Actions Broader foreign policy Iran Things We Can Do

Another Portland-Iran Solidarity Rally Tuesday

Got this from Gabi’s blog: Local folks are calling for another vigil in solidarity with the people of Iran. This vigil will be Tuesday, June 23 at 7 PM in Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Thanks also, Gabi, for posting this LA Times article about the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, who was killed on the street in Tehran on Saturday. I have seen the video (which is as disturbing as it sounds) but did not know her name or story. My thoughts are with her family and all the grieving families in Tehran. I’ll be at Pioneer Courthouse Square tomorrow evening wearing something green.

Broader foreign policy Iran News Things We Can Do

Portland in Solidarity with People of Iran

I made it to the candlelight vigil in solidarity with the people of  Iran at PSU last night.  There were over 300 people there to show their support, and people observed a moment of silence for those who had been killed by “security forces” in Tehran. I got my “We are all Iranians” button and ran into only a couple people I knew — it’s always great to see unfamiliar yet friendly faces at peace events.

There were a couple folks taking pictures of the vigil with a camera (as opposed to me taking pictures with my phone). There are some photos of the vigil up on Flickr.

It’s important for people in Iran to know that the world is watching, and I have participated in Amnesty’s call to the Iranian government for restraint. (I’m sure that the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei doesn’t read his own email, but someone does.) Even if you can’t make it to a vigil, it is a way you can be in solidarity with the Iranian people.

Of course, I wasn’t actually sure why I was even supposed to email the Ayatollah Khomenei. I will confess to not always understanding all that I have heard on NPR about the Iranian election so far, or what I have read on Twitter. I found this Time Magazine who’s who in the struggle within Iran helpful. Of course, Time doesn’t mention the protesters, but it does help to distinguish the political leaders and political bodies from each other. I also found this commentary by Hamid Dabashi helpful (thanks for posting it to your blog, Gabi).

And, look! A vigil the same night at University of Washington — I found these beautiful photos from the Seattle vigil on Flickr. As President Obama has said, the world is watching.

Broader foreign policy News Things We Can Do

Oregon Divesting from Iran: Bad Idea

I just learned from the American-Iranian Friendship Council that the  Oregon Senate passed a resolution calling for the state to divest from businesses with ties to Iran. This is a poorly-conceived bill,  based on “enemy-of-the-month” thinking that has placed Iran in the crosshairs for the last couple years (again).

The resolution attempts to create false links between Iran and our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but will possibly wind up depriving people of food (for example, Oregon farmers sell wheat to Iran) and curtail legitimate businesses when we’re all already facing hard economic times.

Senate Bill 633 passed the Senate 27-3, but I’m proud that my Senator,  State Senator Margaret Carter, did the right thing and voted against it along with Senators Burdick and Metsger. (To see the vote results, you can run a search for SB 633 on the Oregon Legislature’s bill search page).

We have to make sure that this horrible bill doesn’t pass the Oregon House.  Rather than continuing to demonize the Iranian people, we should be looking for ways to decrease tensions in the region.  I’ve already emailed my rep, the great Representative Chip Shields, earlier today.

This could totally sneak in under the radar and will cause hardship for many ordinary people in Oregon and Iran. Take five and send a message to your Representative today before this bill is sitting on the Governor’s desk.  (Not sure who to email?  Let the Oregon Legislative website help you find your Rep)

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