Category: Essays & Letters

What a Disgrace

by Daryl Turner, President, Portland Police Association Perhaps you have been following the horrible treatment of the Portland Police Bureau while the fair city that we serve has been negotiating a “settlement” with the Department of Justice about the levels of violence we police are accused of using against people with mental problems as well…

ILWU Strength Imperiled by Dangerous Course

Story and photos by Pete Shaw A crowd of over 200 Longshore workers, other union members, and community supporters rallied at Esther Short Park in Vancouver, WA, on March 8 in support of ILWU Local 4 grain handlers locked out of their jobs by United Grain Corporation in late February. After some speeches, the assembly,…

Movements and Mobilizations: Reflections on N3

By Kari Koch There were several critical successes of N3—the November 3rd Solidarity Against Austerity mobilization—including mobilizing 1200 people in the streets, putting the concept of austerity into mainstream conversation in Portland as a program of an economic system that is fundamentally flawed, engaging dozens of new folks in mobilization organizing, and building working relationships…

Labor’s Call to Action: The Grand Bargain Betrayal

By Shamus Cooke The labor movement is in terminal crisis. After decades of declining membership the union movement has been targeted for destruction: private sector union membership is near eradication, and now the corporations are on a public-sector mopping up mission, using the city, state, and federal budget deficits as an excuse to target public…

A Contemplation on the Building Blocks of a Successful Movement

By Gina Ronning The Portland Action Lab is currently embarking on what is sure to be a difficult conversation exploring group purpose, structure, and other aspects of self-evaluation. This dialogue is a crucial component for any group in assessing success and goal achievement. How meaningful this discussion will be is entirely dependent upon the level…

The Job Crisis, the “Unemployable,” and the Fiscal Cliff

By Shamus Cooke With the November elections right around the corner, the millions of unemployed and underemployed have little reason to care. Aside from some sparse rhetoric, neither Democrats nor Republicans have offered a solution to job creation. Most politicians seem purposefully myopic about the jobs crisis, as if a healthy dose of denial might…

How Unions Could Do Much Better

By Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer The International Association of Machinists just succeeded in negotiating a humiliating defeat with Caterpillar after a 15-week strike. Workers lost considerable money by striking, and then lost even more with the new contract, accepting almost every concession the company demanded despite the fact that the company was sitting on…

What Does “Independence” Mean for Labor?

By Mark Vorpahl The unions remain the only organizations in this country built by and for workers to be a collective fighting force to defend and improve the members’ standard of living. While only a minority belong to unions, all workers’ fate depends on their strength. Unfortunately they have been taking a serious beating. How…

Progressives Must Occupy

By Shawn Fleek This article is written in response to the Cynthia Alvarez piece, “Progressives Must Move Beyond Occupy”. It has been a year since the first cries of “We are the 99%” rang out in Portland, followed by much commotion, ropes strung between trees, pepper spray, large assemblies, a kitchen full of food and…

Progressives Must Move Beyond Occupy

By Cynthia Alvarez Average citizens evaluate political organizations based on how those organizations actually function. They know a political organization is a microcosm of the society it wishes to create. So after ten months of heavy involvement in Occupy, I have this question for Occupiers: would you honestly want to live in a society that…