A New Deal for Rural Labor
A Rural New Deal needs to be built with union labor.
Our region was historically built with union jobs and union families, and we can revise this important element of our democracy. A union provides power to workers to collaborate on issues related working conditions, length of the workday, compensation, healthcare and benefits, and our overall wellbeing in the workplace. If you have a union job, you have more democracy in your life. You are able to act with more agency in your “9-5” life and your civic life.
According to the Labor Education and Research Center’s report (U of O), “The Union Advantage:” “…unions in Oregon raise wages, improve health and pension benefits, reduce overall income inequality, and significantly decrease racial and gender inequalities” (1). Among the contradictions of our economic relationships is a reliance on public assistance because wages are not high enough – having union work accounted for an overall 11% higher wage rate, and reduced assistance on such programs (35% less!). Read more on the LERC report here.
Here is where we begin a New Deal for Rural Labor:
- Infrastructure projects must have a ‘union hammer’ on every job site. “Labor peace” and “labor harmony” agreements must be the new normal for all companies working with public contracts and dollars.
- All Oregon workers deserve $17 and a union: A non-restrictive, substantial minimum wage (that adjusts with inflation) should be implemented by 2024. Rural areas should not be disadvantaged.
- All Oregon employment applications must include a statement of labor rights and resources.
- Amending PECBA: Unions should be able to openly determine bargaining issues restriction during each contract cycle.
- Expand and substantially increase staffing and enforcement powers at state agencies charged with enforcing labor law.
- Expand supports for farm and migrant labor, including undocumented labor.
There is power in a union, and we can move forward with not only the ‘bread and butter’ rewards of labor, but the ‘bread and roses’ too.
We can do this together!
Stay tuned for more policy details in the coming weeks! And share your vision too!