United Way’ers, labor partners from across the country take part in ‘Labor Walk’

United Way/Labor guests in Portland for a conference Aug. 15-17 were treated to a walking tour, where they heard about the city’s rich labor history. One stop was at United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. United Way and Labor’s Community Services Agency have worked in partnership for 42 years.

United Way-Labor Partnership Conference attendees enjoyed a “Labor Walk” through the streets of downtown Portland Aug. 16. The conference was held at the Benson Hotel in Portland Aug. 15-17.

Be Marston of UNITE HERE provided a history of the union and the progress that Pride@Work has done in the community with LGBTQ rights. Holding the speaker is labor historian Jim Cook, a retired Letter Carrier who helped plan the tour. (Photos courtesy of Carlos Carvalho, CLC Labour Participation Department, United Way of the Lower Mainland, Burnaby, BC.)

Nationally, the AFL-CIO and United Way have worked together for the past 76 years. In Portland, Labor’s Community Service Agency and United Way of the Columbia-Willamette have worked together for the past 42 years.

The annual Labor Partnership Conference brings together labor liaisons and leaders, and staff and leadership from United Way organizations across the country. This year’s theme, “United We All Win,” underscored the power of community, and the importance of continuing to foster the relationship between the labor movement and United Way. Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain participated in a special panel of labor leaders and United Way leaders, speaking about the importance of the partnership and how the work they do impacts our community.

United Way of the Columbia-Willamette was the catalyst for the Labor Walk. When Portland popped up on the schedule for a national conference, United Way approached Labor’s Community Services Agency.  Executive Director Eryn Byram then reached out to Jim Cook, who heads up the Northwest Oregon Labor Council’s Labor History Committee, and is a vice president of the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association. Cook  jumped on board immediately to help make it happen.

So, on the evening of Aug. 16 a bunch of unionists and United Way’ers marched 1.7 miles through downtown Portland, hearing about its labor history from special guest speakers.

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