Standing and District Committees March Meeting Roundup

We’re pleased to share the highlights below from Standing and District Committee meetings held in March.

Communications Committee, March 29; chaired by Simon Springall

With the May primary approaching, we reviewed the schedule for writing, designing, and printing slate cards, so we have in time for Neighborhood Leaders and others to use them. That led to a discussion of how we could best support Democratic primary candidates in important races. We decided on several priority candidates whom we will contact to request interviews that we will post on the website and promote via social media.

We agreed that First Friday celebrations in Oregon City are an excellent venue to have a presence and to engage younger voters. We will look into costs of printing some flashy tee-shirts and badges we could sell and distribute and will ponder design and message ideas.

Labor Committee report submitted by Daniel Cortez

Labor and Gender Equality
Movement Historic Highlights

1834 First turnout of “mill girls” in Lowell, MA, to protect wage cuts
1843 Lowell Female Labor Reform Association petitions for 10-hour day
1871 After her dress shop is destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones begins working as a labor organizer
1903 Women’s Trade Union League formed at the AFL convention
1909 Female shirtwaist makers in New York strike against sweatshop conditions
1911  Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City kills nearly 150 workers, leads to reforms
1912 Begun by immigrant women in Lawrence, MA, the Bread and Roses strike involved 23,000 men, women, and children
1963 Equal Pay Act bans wage discrimination based on gender
1974 Coalition of Labor Union Women founded
2009 President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring the rights of working women to sue over pay discrimination

As March was Women’s History Month, the Labor Committee offers these reflections on the immense contributions women have made to the American Labor Movement.

Dolores Huerta, Lucy Parsons, and Mother Jones are but a few of the well-known women labor organizers whom we rightly honor. We would do well to remember that these fearless leaders (and countless other women) had the dedication and resolve to defy societal norms as they demanded and effected significant, positive changes for working families.

Here is the story of one labor organization and activist who might not be as well known.

Founded in 1900, The International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union was one of the largest labor unions in America. Their tireless activism, particularly in the wake of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, paved the way for massive changes in worker safety. This union eventually merged and formed what we now know as UNITE HERE. Today, UNITE HERE also represents hotel housekeepers, who are predominantly immigrant women and women of color who work for low wages and often at great risk. UNITE HERE continues to be a leader in the fight for workplace protection for women.

Activist Luisa Moreno began her activism career while working in a cafeteria in New York in the 1930s. She was arrested while picketing against long hours and consistent sexual harassment. Later, she was a founder of the United Cannery, Agriculture, Packing and Allied Workers of America. With this group, she brought thousands of minority food processing workers into organized labor, 75 percent of whom were women. Her struggles 80 years ago and the continuing struggles of UNITE HERE remind us today that women’s rights, immigrant rights and civil rights are workers’ rights.

Finally, let us remember that Unions and collective bargaining remain a significant force in the battle against the gender wage gap. According to a 2016 study by the Economic Policy Institute, women in Unions are paid 94 cents for every dollar paid to unionized men, compared to just 78 cents on the dollar for nonunionized women.

Justice Committee, March 14; co-chaired by Josh Korwin and Mike Kohlhoff; meeting highlights submitted by Mary Post

John Talberth and Daphne Wysham reported on their work with the Center for Sustainable Economy, which they described as a “Think Tank-Do Tank.” They discussed the Cap and Trade approach vs. Supply and Demand. The center is supporting the “Modernization of Oregon’s Forest Practices Act,” which would ensure the act is consistent with best available science and takes environmental impacts into account. They noted that the timber industry currently has negative labor conditions and environmental issues as a result of “short rotation tree farms” that are being used for cross-laminated timber supplies. John noted that if we used a “Genuine Progress Indicator,” or GPI, in lieu of a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) indicator, we would include the cost of environmental impacts. Unsustainable forest practices, such as clear-cutting, are very costly environmentally but aren’t included in the GDP equation.

Committee members discussed several related topics particularly relevant to Clackamas County:
a. Replacing Alan Olsen, R-Canby, a climate change denier, as state senator;
b. Educating county commissioners about carbon life cycles;
c. Electing more progressive council members in Lake Oswego, with the hope they would help reduce sprawl and population density in an area with impervious surfaces.

House District 37 Meeting; co-leaders Mary Shortall and Ken Chappuis

The House District 37 co-leaders have been working to confirm Neighborhood Leaders (NLs) and train new NLs before the May 15th Primary. Training for new NLs and brush up training for existing NLs will be offered on Saturday, April 21st.

House District 39 Meeting; co-leaders Naella Tesch and Katie Wynne

For our March meeting we had a Pledge Card canvass and knocked on doors of Democrats in Canby. State senate candidate Charles Gallia joined us. He is the only Democrat who filed for our district. People were very excited to see him on their doorsteps or hear that he was in the neighborhood. We collected several cards, which will increase voter turnout in November.

Thanks to all who participated!

House District 40 Meeting, March 25; co-leaders Faith Leith and Bill Street

After short statements from candidates Charles Gallia, SD20, and Betty Dominguez, county clerk, we had a brief Q&A session.

Our discussion topic was on the ins and outs of the state Platform Convention, which was held March 16-18, in Salem. Precinct Committee Person and first-time attendee Cris Waller explained the process, which can be overwhelming. On Friday the 16th, the focus was on the rules of the event. Were there any to change, drop, or add? A chair, vice chair, and leadership for the weekend were elected. Democracy can be messy, thus the reason for the rules. With more than 500 attendees, progress was slow, but sure, and all had a chance to be heard, if not in the general assembly, then during the breakout workshops.

All day on Saturday, March 17th, participants worked on the Legislative Action Items (LAIs), which describe what they would like to see state and national representatives focus on in Salem and Washington, D.C. during the next two years. There were 11 workshops (you could attend only two for 2.5 hours each), and each session produced 12 LAIs for our representatives.
The state platform is filled with planks, which are more general statements of our positions, such as “Democrats support universal healthcare.” Every two years before the primary, we gather somewhere around the metro area and revise, delete, and add planks to our platform. That work took place during the general assembly, a plenary session on Sunday, March 18th. Also any last-minute LAIs submitted that weekend (requiring 50 signatures from at least five counties) were debated and voted up or down on Sunday.

The week after the assembly, attendees received ballots online so they could prioritize their choices from the long list of LAIs.

House District 52 Meeting; co-leaders Jan Lee and Dennis Ghelfi

The Mountain Progressives group had a great turn out for our monthly breakfast, which is held on the first Saturday of the month at Still Creek Inn Restaurant in Rhododendron. Our March 3rd breakfast featured Aurora del Val and Anna Williams, candidates for House District 52 state representative; del Val has since withdrawn from the race. Also, Sherry Healy, who is a candidate for Clackamas county clerk, came and addressed the group. All three candidates showed great knowledge about issues and fielded questions from the group.

The Oregon Trail Democrats met on March 27th and discussed the recent DPO Platform Committee Convention, expansion of the Neighborhood Leader program, and the status of other relevant programs. It was announced that the Sandy Chamber of Commerce is supporting a candidates’ forum on April 9th, featuring senate, house, and county positions. Our next meeting will be April 24th.