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Stand Up for Workers Rights - WE ARE ONE Rally

The news out of Wisconsin and dozens of other states has been disheartening lately.

But the Republican attacks on workers and middle class families are plainly revealing their true motives. It is NOT about growing the economy, balancing budgets fairly, or creating family wage jobs.

It’s all about payback and politics.

It’s payback to their billionaire funders and corporate campaign donors.

It’s the politics of division aimed at weakening the collective voices of millions of working and middle class families, students, youth, immigrants, and the jobless.

I believe people all across the country are awakening to this assault. Working people want to be a part of the solution. We want to work together to restore fairness, create good jobs, grow the middle class, and keep our communities storng and vibrant!

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. He was there to stand with sanitation workers demanding their dream: the right to bargain collectively for a voice at work and a better life.

On April 4, 2011, we are rallying together. We are standing in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and dozens of other states where well-funded, right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away the very rights that Dr. King gave his life for.

Please join us!

March 25 - A Solemn Anniversary

March 25, 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City. The Triangle Fire remains one of the deadliest industrial accidents in US history.

Most of the 146 victims were recent immigrant Jewish and Italian women aged sixteen to twenty-three. They perished in the fire or in desperate attempts to escape it.

There were many factors that led to so many deaths. More than 500 people worked on the eight, ninth and tenth floors in the cramped factory building. There were no alarms -- workers learned of the fire after it was too late. A few buckets of water were on the factory floor -- no hoses, no extinguishers, no hope of fighting the flames.

Exit doors swung inward, unable to open when the crush of panicked workers pressed against them. Managers routinely kept some doors to stairwells and exits locked to prevent theft. Two freight elevators became inoperable from fire damage after a few trips. A single exterior fire escape, warped by the heat of the fire, collapsed under the weight of people attempting to flee, plunging them to their deaths.

When the fire department arrived, their tallest ladders could only reach six stories. Workers jumped to their deaths rather than be burned.

But the tragedy spurred demand for change.  Labor unions and reformers demanded and won workplace safety laws. 

Today, you can see the evidence of their efforts all around in public buildings and workplaces.  You see clearly marked exits with wide doors that swing outward.  Signs above doors that read "Must remain unlocked during business hours."   Alarms, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler systems are all in evidence.  Building and business owners must observe the posted maximum capacity in their operations.  You'll see regular inspections for fire and safety hazards.

Especially for Oregon Politics Wonks

The US Census was completed last year and the results published in February.  The data show that Oregon has grown by 12% since 2000, adding nearly 410,000 new residents. 

 

But this growth happened unevenly across the state, so electoral districts must be redrawn.  The Oregon and the U.S. Constitution require that the districts be of roughly equal population.  Oregon law also specifies that districts:

 

• Be contiguous

Union County Special District filing deadline is March 17!

Union County citizens should note that the filing deadline for all Special District elections in our county is Thursday, March 17th before 5 pm!

We encourage all Democrats to help their communities by filing to serve on the boards of school, fire, parks & recreation, health, cemetary, or sanitation districts that will be on the ballot in May.

For filing information, contact the Union County Clerk's office (541-963-1006), or your local district office.  Or you can e-mail us at this link:  http://union.oregondemocrats.org/Contact_Us

Proposed Resolution 2 - Support Unions

A RESOLUTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF UNION COUNTY OREGON

WHEREAS, the right of workers to join together and form worker organizations is a basic human right recognized throughout the world; and

WHEREAS, the policy of the United States since the Wagner Act of 1935 is to recognize and support the right of workers to bargain collectively through representative of their own choosing; and

WHEREAS, the platform of the Oregon Democratic Party explicitly supports labor unions; and

WHEREAS, the legislative agenda of the Oregon Democratic Party seeks to enhance the ability of workers to form unions and bargain collectively; and

WHEREAS, the Republican majority in the House of the state legislature of Wisconsin has already voted to strip union workers of their collective bargaining rights; and

WHEREAS, Republicans in other states are taking similar action to deny both public and private union workers their collective bargaining rights; and

WHEREAS, the Democratic Party of Union County Oregon recognizes this assault on workers’ rights as a threat to workers throughout the United States:

NOW, THEREFORE, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF UNION COUNTY OREGON RESOLVES AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. To call on the Delegates to the State Central Committee of the Oregon Democratic Party go on record to oppose this assault on workers’ rights;

Section 2. To call on the Delegates to the State Central Committee of the Oregon Democratic Party go on record to support the actions of the 14 Democratic Wisconsin State Senators who refuse to allow a quorum that would advance this bill to strip workers of their rights;

Section 3. To call on the State Executive Committee to forward the resolution to the Wisconsin Democratic Party in order express our solidarity in their struggle and our admiration for their efforts.

ADOPTED by the Democratic Party of Union County Oregon on this 2nd day of March, 2011

Proposed Resolution 1 - Abolish Corporate Personhood

Union County Democrats, please review this text before the next meeting.

A Resolution by the Democratic Party of Union County Oregon to Legalize Democracy and Abolish Corporate Personhood

Whereas, government of, by, and for the people has long been a cherished American value, and We The People’s fundamental and inalienable right to self-govern, and thereby secure rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and;

Whereas, free and fair elections are essential to democracy and effective self-governance, and;

Whereas, persons are rightfully recognized as human beings whose essential needs include clean air, clean water, safe and secure food, and;

Whereas, corporations are entirely human-made legal fictions created by express permission of We The People and our government, and;

Whereas, corporations can exist in perpetuity, can exist simultaneously in many nations at once, need only profit for survival, and exist solely through the legal charter imposed by the government of We The People, and;

Whereas, in addition to these advantages, the great wealth of large corporations allows them to wield coercive force of law to overpower human beings and communities, thus denying We The People's exercise of our Constitutional rights, and;

Whereas, corporations are not mentioned in the Constitution, and The People have never granted constitutional rights to corporations, nor have We decreed that corporations have authority that exceeds the authority of We The People of the United States, and;

Don't Doom the Economic Recovery by Slashing Budgets

Our current economic crisis has many causes: launching two wars on borrowed money, passing huge tax cuts for corporations and wealthy Americans, expanding prescription drug benefits (Medicare Part D) without paying for them, and a financial collapse due to Wall Street's unrestrained gambling.

The Bush administration and its Republican (and Blue Dog Democrat) enablers in Congress set this stage.  In a mere eight years, they turned the Clinton-era budget surplus into a trillion+ dollar deficit.  However, their own culpability in this havoc has not hindered Republicans from laying the blame on President Obama and Democrats.  Republicans now act as if the economic crisis and the growth of the deficit simply popped into existence on January 20, 2009.

This sudden concern about deficits, stirred together with revenue shortfalls from our weakened economy, creates a crisis atmosphere.  The "crisis" gives Republicans at the federal and state level convenient cover to attempt draconian cuts to programs they dislike: Planned Parenthood, the WIC nutrition program, the EPA, public broadcasting, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, Medicare... the list in endless.

The cuts are proposed in the name of "sharing the sacrifice" and "fiscal responsibility." But the sacrifice is not shared and the cuts are not responsible.

Get Real About Climate Change

A recent Letter to the Editor in The Observer betrayed a fundamental misconception about climate change. 

The writer claimed that since there were heavy snow storms occuring in the US it must mean that global warming is a bunch of baloney.  She painted an amusing picture:  Al Gore, Nobel Peace prize winner for raising global warming awareness, is stuck in a snowstorm, denying the reality of the blizzard all around him.

The misconception is that our local weather today is an indicator of global weather long term.  It is not.  Weather is a complex, dynamic system.  Distant, unseen climate forces can have widespread and persistent consequences.

Because of this misconception the letter writer simply brushes aside decades of scientific research as "baloney".   As a result, she is denying the reality of climate change around her. 

The picture that the scientific evidence paints is not so amusing.  Greenhouse gasses are at the highest levels in history.  These gasses cause steadily rising air and ocean temperatures.  Human activity, particularly burning fossil fuels, is mostly to blame.  If this decades-long trend continues unchecked, the environmental impact will be widespread and devastating.

The evidence is overwhelming and no reputable climate researchers dispute it.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), NASA, and the NOAA - to name but a few organizations - have mountains of peer-reviewed research documenting the facts of climate change.  Even the Pentagon and the CIA now consider global warming a grave national security threat.

The Republican Assault on Social Security

The Republican assault on Social Security is driven by a conscious campaign of misinformation and disinformation. 

Social Security is perhaps the most successful and popular program ever enacted by our federal govenrment.  It has protected millions of workers and their covered family members against loss of income from the retirement, disability, or death of the wage earner. 

The insurance program is funded by payroll taxes and does NOT impact the deficit.  In fact, the Social Security trust fund can pay full benefits through 2037.  Even with NO changes, the program can still pay about 80% of all expected benefits going forward.

But deliberate misrepresentation of Social Security is allowing calls for severe cuts in benefits and raising the retirement age to gain traction.

For example, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama recently proposed increasing the Social Security retirement age "every several years" because "deficit reduction" is the top priority on the congressional agenda.

This fear-mongering about deficits is a favorite tool of Republicans to justify attacks on vital social programs they oppose.  They exploit the perception of crisis to strip funding from education, health care, nutrition, unemployment, assistance to families in poverty -- the list is endless. 

As citizens we must educate ourselves about Social Security.  You can start by reading an excellent fact-based response to Sen. Shelby at http://bit.ly/i16zSP.

An Introduction and an Invitation

Hello!  My name is Glen Scheele and I am honored to serve as the new Chair of the Union County Democrats.

 

My wife and I have lived and worked in Oregon for more than 30 years, mostly right here in the Grande Ronde Valley.  We feel privileged to have raised our three children in this wonderful community.

 

I’ve always been a Democrat and active in politics.  But in recent years I decided to take an even more active role in light of the grave challenges we face.

 

Our nation has been at war for a decade.  We are in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Millions of our fellow citizens are unemployed.  Millions have lost their homes.  Reckless gambling by Wall Street and banks has decimated the modest savings of our working families.

 

Decades of relentless, well-financed conservative attacks have eroded faith in a common purpose.  As a result, Republican themes – Privatize! Deregulate! Shrink Government! Cut Taxes! -- have gained traction. 

 

Yet these policies are failures.  For proof we only need to look at how much more precarious life has become for ourselves and for millions of our fellow citizens after decades of pursuing these policies.

 

There is a saying: “In crisis is opportunity.”  Unfortunately for some it’s an opportunity to enrich themselves or cynically grab for political power.  Corporations are earning unprecedented profits, yet continue to ship jobs and investments overseas.  Wall Street and Big Banks are earning unprecedented profits, yet refuse to ease access to credit or help struggling home owners.  Republicans have decided that to win the next election they must make Democrats fail, no matter the cost to average Americans. 

 

I believe Democrats see different opportunities.  Tough times mean a chance to leverage smart public spending to rebuild, to modernize, and to jump-start our economy.  A reckless financial economy can be reined in once again serve the real economy.  Corporate excesses can be addressed with sensible regulations that benefit workers, consumers, and our environment.  The many families being saved from impoverishment by Social Security, Medicare, and the new health care reform will make the case to further strengthen those programs.

 

At times, I’ve been overwhelmed by the challenges and felt powerless to address them.  I found that by teaming up with my fellow Democrats I no longer felt powerless or overwhelmed.  Democrats are ready to stand up, to speak out, to work, and to fight for what is right. 

 

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  Won’t you please join us to hasten that day?

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