Portland Rising Campaign
PORTLAND RISING - A brief statement of history and purpose
Portland Rising is a project of Jobs with Justice that made its debut on April 16th, 2011 with a huge rally joining a variety of union and community campaigns under the broad theme of Good Jobs, No Cuts. Since then Jobs with Justice, unions, community groups and activists have continued to unify campaigns in organizing five big Portland Rising actions (including two bus tours). We have built a new level of solidarity that has come from planning campaigns and actions together under the banner of Good Jobs, No Cuts.
In September 2012, we brought labor and community leaders together to think about the negative trends affecting all of us: declining real wages, high unemployment, cuts to services, privatization, environmental degradation, and globalization of the workforce. We agreed that corporations have benefited from these trends and that our political leaders have generally promoted policies that have encouraged them.
We also agreed that conditions will continue to worsen for growing numbers of people unless we are able to articulate and build support for a positive vision of change. Our starting point for that vision includes the following three interrelated demands: Good jobs For All, A Strong And Accountable Public Sector Serving Human Needs, and Healthy Cities And Communities.
To advance this vision, Portland Rising is encouraging a sustained commitment from representatives and activists from unions, community groups and others, to a process of planning and implementing at least three powerful collective actions per year, each of which will highlight at least one of our demands. This process of strategic planning, action and reflection will help us develop a deeper understanding of the economy, the political system. It will also strengthen our efforts to achieve good jobs for all, a strong and accountable public sector, and healthy cities and communities.
More background and history
How did it all start? The Economic Crisis Committee of JWJ was planning a march and rally on April 16th 2011 calling for good jobs for all and no cuts to the social safety net. We had been doing educational work on the austerity that was increasingly being forced on working people who were already suffering under the economic crisis. We also did a petition campaign to try to get the Oregon Congressional delegation to pledge that they would not vote to cut safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and would work to get legislation to create a federally funded jobs program.
At the same time, at the Portland Jobs With Justice planning retreat in February 2011, we found out that seven union contracts in the Portland area were to expire on June 30th and we didn't have the resources to support all the campaigns effectively one by one.
The Portland Rising project was created so we could work on all these campaigns strategically and efficiently and also so union campaigns could be understood in the context of community standards that apply to all workers.
On April 16th 2011, 2500 people gathered in Pioneer Square to hear a group of 'heroes' - workers and activists - talk about their current struggles for decent contracts, protection of social safety net services and the need for fair trade. They marched through downtown Portland, led by Mahlon Mitchell, President of the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin.
On June 30th, three buses set out on the first Portland Rising bus tour, taking in seven actions during a packed day, supporting workers at Georgia Pacific, the Vancouver Hilton, the County and State, Emanuel Hospital and Dosha salons, where activists blocked SE Hawthorne in solidarity. We also visited the office of Congressman Earl Blumenauer, where more than 100 of us lined up to individually and collectively demand that he vote no on the Korea, Panama and Colombia trade agreements. As a result of our pressure in this and other actions, Blumenauer ultimately voted against the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
For the third action, in October, Portland Rising joined with Vancouver, via a 500 plus person march from Janzen Beach across the I-5 bridge. Among the issues raised wre that of the contract struggles at Georgia Pacific and the Vancouver Hilton, as well as the ILWU dispute at Longview. Members of Occupy Portland and Occupy Vancouver turned out in support. At one point the marchers spanned the bridge so that there were people in Portland and Vancouver simultaneously.
February 2012 brought the second Portland Rising bus tour and fourth overall action. This time two packed school buses carried activists to a rally at First Student to support school bus drivers in Gresham, lunch at We Are Oregon's Vecinos Unidos (Workers' Center) community space on East Burnside, and an action at the University Station Post Office. This was before we stormed City Hall in support of city laborers and the Right To Dream Too rest area on West Burnside Street. We then visited the Aveda school, which is owned by Dosha Salons, rallied at Emanuel Legacy, finishing with another rally outside the Dosha facility near NW 23rd.
Tax Day brought the fifth Portland Rising day of action. In Terry Schrunk Plaza, a mighty game of dodgeball pitted the 99% against the 1%, with janitors, postal workers, Right To Dream Too activists, Verizon workers, Medicare/Medicaid recipients and others from community and labor representing the 'peoples' team. Initially, the 1% did a good job of cheating their way to success, but ultimately, through mass solidarity, the 99% united together to achieve the final victory. Following the game, a symbolic bake sale was held at City Hall to raise money for the essential services threatened by budget cuts. Activists then took the Max across town, leafleting passengers in support of transit workers and the Fareless Square, to a rally at the main post office, where members of the Letter Carriers spoke eloquently about the manufactured crisis threatening the postal service, and the devastating effect that cuts will have, especially on rural and low income communities.