Mid-Columbia Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Weekly Update: Oregon Wants to Work

Take Action
The Rally for Jobs is a few weeks away and we need your help to spread the word about this important event!

Monday, March 7th, 11am training, noon rally in Salem.

Demand good jobs for all Oregonians.
No ride? No problem: We’ll have buses from Portland to Salem, details TBA.

Governor Kitzhaber will detail how he plans to get our state back to work, and then we’ll go inside and support job creating legislation.

The First Meeting of Oregon Wants to Work
Our pilot program, Oregon Wants to Work had a successful first meeting on Wednesday. We had 70 unemployed and underemployed workers show up to the PCC Workforce Center in Northeast Portland.

Participants were enthusiastic about the program and eager to get things started “it would be great to have all the jobs we need,” said an unemployed worker from Portland, “but we have immediate needs. We need healthcare, food for our families. We need to take this movement beyond this room.”

The group’s priorities will be driven by the participants. At Wednesday’s meeting, the group identified goals such as networking, getting help with job searches, navigating the unemployment process and coming together as a collation to demand the changes that Oregon needs.

Oregon Wants to Work will continue to have monthly meetings, as well as other events. Head to www.oregonwantstowork.com or www.facebook.com/oregonwantstowork to learn about next month’s event and to find resources and more information related to the program.

Portland is a one of five cities selected by the national AFL-CIO to participate in this innovative pilot program. The Oregon AFL-CIO, along with the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, Working America and Labor’s Community Services are working together on the project.

In Other News...
Cab Drivers: Employees or Independent Contractors?

Taxicab drivers in Portland are getting a bad deal. Not only are the charged hundreds of dollars a month just for the opportunity to work for a cab company, those companies are now trying to say the cab drivers are independent contractors, not employees, http://gov.oregonlive.com/bill/2011/SB257/. This unfair distinction bars cab drivers from most of the basic workers’ rights that they should be entitled to, and causes the drivers to pay their company’s half of many taxes and other fees.

The Communication Workers of America are leading the charge to get the drivers organized into worker-owned collectives which will put the power back into the hands of Portland’s hardworking cab drivers.

And the Oregon AFL-CIO will continue to fight any legislation that limits unemployment insurance for workers who don’t meet independent contractor definitions, including SB 257.

We Need Your Help!
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funding is at risk. These are the funds that support:
- Job training for dislocated workers
- On-the-Job training
- WorkSource Oregon Centers in Salem, Woodburn, Dallas and McMinnville
- Youth training programs

The Oregon AFL-CIO’s Workforce Labor Liaison position is also funded by WIA monies. That’s the position that helps workers across the state (union and nonunion alike) access the resources they need to get back on their feet after a layoff.

Congressional leadership has introduced a Continuing Resolution that completely abolishes funding for WIA. The vote will take place by the end of this week. This would mean all programs funded through this source would disappear July 1, 2011. Workforce Investment Act funded programs would be substantially impacted and no longer available on July 1, 2011.

This proposed funding cut will compromise our ability as a region to assist dislocated workers and contribute to the economic recovery.

It is critical that members of Congress hear from you. Please call your representative or senator using the telephone number below and tell them about the importance of job training program funding.

Here is contact information for all of the Oregon delegation:

Senator Jeff Merkley
Courtney Thomspon: courtney_thompson@merkley.senate.gov
Fax: 202-228-3997 Phone: (202) 224-3753

Senator Ron Wyden
Joel Shapiro: joel_shapiro@wyden.senate.gov
Fax: 202-228-2717 Phone: (202) 224-5244

Representative David Wu
Fax: 202-225-9497 Phone: (202) 225-0855

Representative Greg Walden
Nathan Rea: nathan.rea@mail.house.gov
Fax: 202-225-5774 Phone: 202-225-6730

Representative Earl Blumenauer
Christa Shively: christa.shively@mail.house.gov
Fax: 202-225-8941 Phone: (202) 225-4811

Representative Peter DeFazio
Penny Dodge: penny.dodge@mail.house.gov
Auke Mahar Piersma: mahar-piersma@mail.house.gov
Fax: 202-225-0032 Phone: (202) 225-6416

Representative Kurt Schrader
Chris Huckelberry: huck@mail.house.gov
Fax: 202-225-5699 Phone: (202) 225-5711

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