Trade Unions

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Union History
Wharfies is a fifty-two minute chronological film history of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia, affectionately referred to as "wharfies."[1]


The Wobblies (1979 | full documentary)
The 1979 documentary film The Wobblies provides an overview of the rise and fall of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), complete with archival footage, loads of interviews, Wobbly art and songs.
This 1979 documentary established a new, primary-research modus for historical nonfiction—no narrator, no authorial perspective, just original documents and witnesses—but its subject matter was, and still is, its most radical characteristic. By the '70s American culture had been made to forget that the Industrial Workers of the World had ever existed, just as in the century's first decades the segregated union utopia was condemned, brutalized, legislated against, campaigned against, and demonized. Today, things haven't changed much—Deborah Shaffer and Stewart Bird's film stands among a scant handful of books detailing the labor movement's astonishing power and growth, its newspapers and songs and sheer membership, as well as the sickening history of suppression, murder, and criminal injustice that was brought to bear upon it.

Union membership in Oregon

Oregon ranks high among the states in union membership. In 2010, Oregon had a 16.2 percent union membership rate of employed workers. This figure ranked 10th highest among the 50 states and District of Columbia. Private-sector union membership (9.1%) ranked 12th highest nationwide, and Oregon's public-sector membership (51.7%) ranked 10th highest.[2]

List of trade unions in Portland


Labor News, Videos, Audio, Articles, Books, Resources

"Union organizers say one of the greatest challenges they face is that many workers don't want to admit they're workers because someday they may be rich and signing a union card would be an admission that good fortune will never strike, but if you point out the health benefits of organizing and of bringing down the gap between the rich and poor by signing a union card, you will literally be saving millions of lives, the equivalent of winning the war on heart disease. ... ORGANIZE OR DIE. These people all see the need to focus on organizing given the lowest unionization rates in history that we have today. I think for of us in the USA, at least as far as our health is concerned, we must Organize or Die." - Dr. Stephen Bezruchka

Organizing Resources

"Although every workplace is different and the needs of workers vary, there are some basic steps involved in winning a union voice on the job. Here's how it happens ..."
"The National Labor Relations Act gives you the right to organize a union in your workplace. Here's what you are allowed to do ... and what your employer is not allowed to do ..."
"This article explains the basic steps of how to organize a labor union in your workplace."


Union Now
Scott Walker Motherfucker is a "song of solidarity from the band Dirty Wings and their friends in Astoria." With close ties in Oregon,[3] Dirty Wings also "stand(s) with Wisconsin workers!"[4]

External Links

The United States now has the highest percentage of low-wage workers—that is, workers who make less than two-thirds of the median wage—of any developed nation.

News Media

News Stories

Portland's own Mark Vorpahl takes a look at organized labor's fault lines.
Union membership plummeted last year to the lowest level since the 1930s as cash-strapped state and local governments shed workers and unions had difficulty organizing new members in the private sector despite signs of an improving economy.
The only way unions can regain their strength and provide a counterweight to corporate power is if liberals join the fight.
Working as an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee, sociologist Lewis Hine documented the working and living conditions of children in the United States between 1908 and 1924. His poignant pictures show young children with their faces covered in dirt who have spent most of their lives working in horrendous conditions. Many sustained broken bones and suffered from stunted growth and curvature of the spine because of the unsafe conditions and worked long hours on poor pay. The photographer would sneak into factories, often hiding his camera and posing as a fire inspector. He risked being beaten by managers if they discovered him.
Unionization in the United States has been on the decline since the 1960s. While many reasons have been offered to explain this drop in the rate of unionization, a new report[5] from the Center for Economic and Policy Research highlights the roles that employer opposition to unions and weak labor laws have played in this decline.
Between 1973 and 2011, the median worker’s real hourly compensation (which includes wages and benefits) rose just 10.7 percent. Most of this growth occurred in the late 1990s wage boom, and once the boom subsided by 2002 and 2003, real wages and compen­sation stagnated for most workers—college graduates and high school graduates alike. This has made the last decade a “lost decade” for wage growth. The last decade has also been characterized by increased wage inequality between workers at the top and those at the middle, and by the continued divergence between overall productivity and the wages or compensation of the typical worker.
Background on the dispute[6] between International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and EGT.
As Occupy Wall Street groups stretching from San Diego to Anchorage mobilize for a multi-port shutdown of the North American West Coast, union members are finding the mobilization offers more than just support against union busting and unfair contracts. Activists and rank-and-file workers say the movement is teaching them what the bureaucratic infrastructure of organized labor has made them forget: collective power.
Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.
Key Lowlights
  1. Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.
  2. Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.
  3. Bernie Marcus, the charismatic co-founder of Home Depot, led the call along with Rick Berman, an aggressive EFCA opponent and founder of the Center for Union Facts. Over the course of an hour, the two framed the legislation as an existential threat to American capitalism, or worse.
  4. "This is the demise of a civilization," said Marcus. "This is how a civilization disappears. I am sitting here as an elder statesman and I'm watching this happen and I don't believe it."
  5. Donations of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars were needed, it was argued, to prevent America from turning "into France."
  6. "If a retailer has not gotten involved in this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to [former Sen.] Norm Coleman and all these other guys, they should be shot. They should be thrown out their goddamn jobs," Marcus declared.


At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom's, Revlon, Macy's, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores[7]...

Advocacy: Local

Advocacy: National / International




See Also


Portland Union Wiki | Union Organizing | Trade Unions