Oregon AFL-CIO ramps up pressure on Rep. Kurt Schrader to get behind labor law reform

Kurt Schrader at a 2015 union picnic.

The Oregon AFL-CIO is asking union members, their families, and friends to call Oregon U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-5th District) and urge him to support legislation that will give workers additional protections to organize and have a voice on the job.

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (H.R. 2474) would protect the right to strike, prevent misclassification of workers as independent contractors, increase penalties for retaliation, and more. Currently it has 219 bipartisan sponsors and co-sponsors in the U.S. House. It is supported by every Democratic member of Congress from Oregon except five-term incumbent Schrader, who has indicated he does not plan to vote for the bill.

“Oregon’s unions expect better from Rep. Schrader,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor. “Reforming labor law is a critical step in building an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy.”

In December 2019, the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board unanimously approved a resolution calling on Congress to pass the PRO Act, in addition to the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act (H.R. 6238), and the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (H.R. 1154). Union officials say these bills will help modernize labor laws in the United States.

“Our outdated laws let bad bosses break the law without any detrimental consequences, thus avoiding any real accountability for union busting,” the state labor federation said in a statement.

A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found employers were violating federal law in roughly 42% of all union election campaigns, with 20% involving a charge that a worker was “illegally fired” for union activity. Additionally, in nearly a third of all union elections, employers were charged with “illegally coercing, threatening, or retaliating against workers for supporting a union.”

These numbers only represent elections supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.

“Corporations and anti-union special interest groups will continue to exploit loopholes in our outdated labor laws to keep workers from standing together in strength. We have a chance to fix this problem, but Rep. Schrader does not seem to see it that way,” Trainor said.

The Oregon AFL-CIO is asking members to call Schrader’s district offices at 503-588-9100 (Salem) and 503-557-1324 (Oregon City) and tell his staff that you want him to co-sponsor or support the PRO Act, (H.R. 2474) so that more working people have the opportunity to join a union.

Schrader is up for election this year. He is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba. The 5th District covers Lincoln, Marion, Polk, Tillamook and portions of Benton, Clackamas and Multnomah counties.

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