This past weekend was the Oregon AFL-CIO’s 55th Convention, the gathering and business meeting of AFL-CIO member unions held every two years. We were proud to send a strong delegation to the Convention to represent our union, including our executive leadership as well as representatives from TriMet, Bend, and our Retiree Chapter. Below is a report back from our delegation about what happened at the Convention, and what’s next for ATU and our fellow AFL-CIO members:
Resolution on workplace assaults – approved unanimously with ATU amendment
Our sisters and brothers from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT – Oregon) Local 8035 brought a resolution to the Convention on an issue our members know too well: assaults in the workplace, and companies’ failure to protect their workers when assaults happen. Educational assistants working with special education students shared story after story with the Convention about their situation: assaults happen so often that they’re considered to be “just part of the job,” and bosses are doing nothing to support their workers. If you’ve ever driven a bus, that probably feels like a familiar story.
AFT-Oregon workers called upon the Oregon AFL-CIO to support legislation to strengthen reporting requirements so that any time a worker is injured on the job, their company has to report that injury to OSHA. It also commits the Oregon AFL-CIO to participate in a campaign to address this violence in the workplace. ATU 757 was proud to sponsor a friendly amendment, approved unanimously by the Convention delegates, which ensured that this resolution also applies to bus & paratransit operators serving the same students, as well as all school district contractors and subcontractors. The final amended resolution passed unanimously, and ATU 757 looks forward to building solidarity between our members and educational assistants at AFT-Oregon to ensure that EVERY worker – no matter who you are or what you do – feels safe in their workplace.
Leadership & staff also continued our coalition-building on workplace assaults, making a strong connection with the Oregon Nurses Association. Nurses face similar rates of violence in the workplace as transit workers, and we’ll continue to forge these collaborative partnerships to address the issue, because we’re always stronger united than divided.
Coalition-building on autonomous vehicles (aka self-driving cars)
From Washington D.C. to Salem to Portland City Hall, politicians across the US are charging full steam ahead on the newest profit-driven fad: autonomous, so-called self-driving, vehicles, including buses and trucks. This is all part of Silicon Valley’s drive to automate as many good union jobs out of existence as possible. Teamsters and transit workers understand instinctively that self-driving buses, trains, and trucks are an existential threat to our livelihoods. Companies already treat their workers like disposable cogs in a machine – it’s only a matter of putting a robot in the driver’s seat to seal the deal.
But it’s not just transportation: automation is going to pose a risk to just about any trade or profession that Silicon Valley deems a target, and we’ve already seen automated home-building machines being put into service around the world. ATU staff & leadership worked to start a conversation with leaders in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48 to develop a more unified response to automation and the risk it poses to our members, and we’ll continue to track this issue moving forward, with a special focus on building up our relationships in the building trades.
ATU wins Labor 2016 Volunteer Shift Leader Award
We were deeply honored to received the Labor 2016 Volunteer Shift Leader Award, recognizing the hundreds of hours ATU members, leadership, and staff put in to support the AFL-CIO during the 2016 election cycle. To every one of you who turned out to work a volunteer shift, knock on doors, make calls, or otherwise support the AFL-CIO in 2016 – thank you! This award belongs to each and every one of you.
COIC member meeting
With staff & leadership in Bend, we took the opportunity to meet with our members from the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, which provides dial-a-ride and dispatch services to Central Oregon communities. ATU Vice President Jon Hunt, COIC Liaison Officer Jacob Foster, and ATU staff held a listening session to hear more about the issue these members experience in the workplace.
We heard from members who face 11- or 12-hour shifts without any breaks, members working 40 hours a week but denied benefits, buses that aren’t being properly and safely maintained, and bosses micromanaging whether or not workers are using the restroom in the allotted break time. We’re looking forward to continuing to fight with our leaders and members in Bend to ensure that COIC workers get a fair contract and to make their workplaces safer.
As you can probably tell, it was nothing if not a busy weekend for the ATU 757 delegation. We’re excited to build on the work we did at this weekend’s Convention, and keep the momentum going on issues like assaults in the workplace, automation’s impact on our members, and more. And we’re committing to everyone now: winning one award for our volunteer service is certainly an honor, but we’d like to come home from the next Convention with a few more honors than that.