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It will likely take donations to help the Twin Cities recover from damage by looters; and state and local governments look for relief in next stimulus bill.

2020Talks - June 5, 2020 

Democrats and Republicans have had drastically different responses to President Trump's militarized response to protests in the nation's capital. And, new electoral maps will be drawn next year, some by legislatures and others by outside entities.

Congress, Oregon Enter Battle Over Workers' Rights

February 7, 2007

Today's labor laws no longer work for the middle class, according to union leaders in Oregon. They're applauding the "Employee Free Choice Act," a bill introduced in Congress yesterday that would make it easier for workers to form unions and bargain for better wages and benefits.

Oregon lawmakers will soon consider three similar bills, with names full of promise: the "Worker Freedom Act," "Union Recognition Cards for Public Employees," and the "State Financial Accountability Act."

Tom Chamberlain of the Oregon AFL-CIO says updating worker protections is critical in order to improve the jobs, wages and benefits employees are now losing.

"It's all tied to the loss of a workers' voice in the workplace. When you don't have a union, you don't have a collective voice. To get to what's wrong with the erosion of the middle class, you have to change our outdated labor laws."

Among other things, the federal bill makes it possible for workers to unionize if the majority of employees sign authorization cards. Supporters say this protection is necessary because some employers use termination, intimidation and fear tactics to discourage elections on the topic of union formation. Critics of the bill, and those now being considered in the Oregon Legislature, claim they could actually take away workers' rights, because they deny the opportunity to choose by election.

But Chamberlain reminds people that employee safeguards -- such as the 40-hour workweek, vacations and benefits -- are the results of organized workers' activism in past decades.

Dondrea Warner/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - OR