On the Willamette Week’s anti-union propaganda

It’s continually staggering to me that we live in a “progressive” city where most major media outlets are reflexively anti-worker. I could link to recent Oregonian articles about the potential strike in Lane County (when you talk about “90% raises for workers,” maybe contextualize that by discussing what folks actually make and if they can live on it), or any editorial about Terminal 6. But let’s talk about the Willy Week’s screed against unions at the airport.

Let’s really talk about the fact that “Unite Here workers at PDX get a small premium above Oregon’s minimum wage, currently $11.25 an hour in the metro area.” Looking at the various studies on this, you need to earn between $16 and $17 an hour full-time to afford the shittiest two-bedroom apartment in Portland at market rate, and we know that there are so few open apartments that you’d be lucky to find one for that cheap. So, I’m sorry, but saying a couple bucks above minimum wage is a “premium” is absolute horseshit, and transparent boss-loving propaganda.

And let’s talk about the fact that the Port of Portland lobbyist using the specter of Burger King to justify paying shit wages is former chief of staff to Governor Kate Brown and a well-known “progressive” politico. It’s worth asking why, for decades, Oregon’s top Democrats from Governor on down have surrounded themselves with union-busters, corporate shills, and folks who go on to lobby for big business or their local representatives like the Port. And yet we’re surprised when these same politicians sell out workers by killing the momentum for a $15 minimum wage? Or pass a transportation package which taxes working folks to subsidize highway construction projects? Or refuse to support protections for renters as thousands of members of our communities sleep on the streets every night?

To be really clear: I do not care for a second if better wages and union representation means that prices rise at the airport, fewer shops open, and we lose the #1 ranking in whatever travel industry magazine is currently crowing about us. If that “success” is built on the backs of workers, if it means shitty wages and benefits, if it requires the rank exploitation of already-exploited folks, it’s not a “success” we should put any effort into defending.

If you support working-class folks, support unions. Support better wages, hours, conditions, and benefits for ALL workers, union or not. Oppose anyone or anything that’s transparently shilling for rich guys’ bottom lines, which is all this article is. This shit ain’t hard, y’all.