Stop Investing Oregon’s Public Money in Endeavour Capital

The Oregon Investment Council (OIC) oversees the investment and allocation of all State of Oregon trust funds, including the retirement investments for public workers, or PERS.

Did you know that OIC has been investing State of Oregon retirement funds with the Portland-based private equity firm Endeavour Capital?

Private equity firms like Endeavour are designed to extract wealth from communities for the sole benefit of the 1%. Endeavour is the majority owner of Portland’s local union busting grocery chain, New Seasons Market. It’s also the majority owner of one of the largest bail bond companies in the nation, Aladdin Bail Bonds. If that isn’t a bad enough wrap sheet, this private equity firm is also a repeat investor in for-profit educational companies.

Click Here to sign the petition demanding the OIC stop investing our future in Endeavour Capital

Public workers across Oregon have dedicated years of their working lives to serving the common good, and now part of their future is being tied into the interest of something quite opposite. Endeavour Capital and the companies it owns have:

  • Hired an aggressive union busting consultant to intimidate New Seasons workers in Portland and maintained an overtly hostile position toward employees organizing for improved working conditions in Oregon and Washington
  • profited off mass incarceration and private bail bonds
  • contributed almost $800,000 to a political action committee in California to defeat legislation meant to protect people from bail bond profiteers
  • Profited off of the for-profit education scam

Endeavour has also received significant investment from the Murdock Charitable Trust, which has funded extremist anti-LGBTQ causes like the so-called “ex-gay therapy” (or “conversion therapy”).

These actions are offensive to the ideals of justice that are at the core JwJ’s work, and at the core of our community. It is unconscionable that our public retirement funds are being invested in a company that profits off such disgusting businesses and business practices.

Our public workers deserve better.  We are asking that the OIC listen to people of good will, act as responsible fiduciaries for Oregon’s future, act justly, and divest from Endeavour Capital.

Click Here to sign the petition demanding the OIC stop investing our future in Endeavour Capital

Portland must reject JTTF once and for all

Portland’s continued participation in the JTTF betrays our community values, negates our city’s claims that we’re a sanctuary for immigrants, and diverts public-safety resources into an unaccountable structure that has an alarming history of civil rights abuses.

NoTaskForceOregon’s labor movement proudly put significant effort into defeating Measure 105 and racial profiling in the November 2018 election. Organized workers know that we can create safety and security through solidarity with one another.

Measure 105’s backers tried to mislead Oregonians that the measure would make Oregon secure by increasing profiling of immigrants. Increasing profiling in our state would have a devastating impact on immigrant and refugee communities and communities of color, which is why so many of us were jubilant to see 105 fail by a huge margin. Measure 105 did not reflect our community’s values.

For context, Measure 105 failed by almost 2-to-1 statewide, and in Multnomah County the result was even more lopsided — 82 percent of Multnomah County voters rejected the measure. It was a resounding victory and a moment when our community said “no” to the hate and fear-mongering coming from the Oval Office and local white supremacists empowered by the 2016 election.

I believe the community that spoke up so clearly against racial profiling in November is similarly ready to reject Portland’s continued involvement in the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Born out of the Islamophobia of the early 2000s, the FBI created the JTTF to collaborate with police in major cities. Portland has had a tumultuous relationship with the task force ever since, leaving in 2005 and rejoining six years later.

Portland’s continued participation in the JTTF betrays our community values, negates our city’s claims that we’re a sanctuary for immigrants, and diverts public-safety resources into an unaccountable structure that has an alarming history of civil rights abuses.

Our community values our neighbors, rejects nativism and white supremacy, and seeks transparent and accessible public services. None of the sparse information the FBI has revealed about Portland’s involvement in the JTTF gives any comfort that the task force matches our city’s values.

The crowning “accomplishment” of the JTTF, of the little that has been shared, is that it discovered a discontented Somali teenager from Beaverton, helped him plan an attack on the city, then arrested him for following their guidance.

Our city leaders, mindful of our 30-year history of being a sanctuary state, have repeatedly grilled the FBI on whether or not it uses immigration status as part of its counterterrorism mandate. In recent statements the FBI representatives of the JTTF disclosed that they would, in fact, use immigration status against whoever they may be investigating. Their admission should raise red flags about the legal basis and the morality of participating in the JTTF.

Obviously, if Portland police were approached with credible evidence of an imminent threat, they should work with the FBI in responding to that emergency event, which is the traditional role of local law enforcement. However, ongoing collaboration with the FBI through the JTTF does not make any of us safer.

Portland’s city leaders should once and for all end our participation in the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

It doesn’t reflect our values and is not a good use of our law enforcement resources.

Will Layng lives in Portland and is executive director of Portland Jobs With Justice. Reach him at Will@jwjpdx.org


This article was originally published in the Portland Tribune

Time for Tenant Rights in Oregon: Proposal is a Start, But Needs Work

This year Oregon will likely become the first and only state in the U.S. to limit rent increases. When our state legislature passes this law there is no question that it will be something worth celebrating. Not only will it be an historic landmark in the struggle for tenant rights but for the first time everyone in our state, not just in the City of Portland, will have protection against sudden, frequent, and exorbitant rent increases. Just like being the first state to limit rent increases, extending tenant rights to smaller cities and to the rural areas of our state is an equally important achievement in the struggle for housing justice.

If the proposal put forward by Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, House Speaker Tina Kotek, and Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson passes as is it would also limit no-cause evictions statewide. No-cause evictions have been a major source of housing instability in Oregon. When I tell friends in other states about the struggle here in Oregon to end no-cause evictions, they are left jaw-dropped by the idea that a landlord can just evict you for no reason, whenever they want to.

tenantrightsAs a labor-community organization, we at Portland Jobs with Justice believe that union members should understand the importance of ending no-cause evictions better than anyone. Unions have fought and continue to fight hard to ensure that all union contracts have just termination clauses that ensure no union member will be fired without just cause. Even more than only just cause, our union contracts spell out step-by-step the disciplinary process in which employers must engage in good faith before a termination can be deemed just. Why wouldn’t we want the same protections in our homes that we have in our jobs? Just cause is a basic protection that needs to be extended to all workers in all workplaces, union or not. Similarly all tenants need this basic protection and to ensure stability in their homes and their lives.

These are important reasons why we at Portland JwJ support the passage of a strong statewide tenants’ rights bill here in Oregon this legislative session. But while we believe the current proposal is a good starting point for that conversation, it is important that we view this proposal as just that, a starting point and not the final product. The final bill that gets passed into law undoubtedly needs to do much more to protects tenants here in Oregon.

Limiting rent increases is so important, not just here in Portland but throughout the state. However, limiting them to 7% per year plus inflation as proposed means that many working families, seniors and people with disabilities who are on fixed incomes, and people living in poverty generally will be priced out of their homes and their neighborhoods within only a few short years at most. This is as true in Pendleton and Klamath City as it is in Portland, Salem, or Eugene. Limited rent increases statewide  to 7% per year plus inflation may be historic in geographic scope, but it doesn’t actually solve the very massive problem of out of control rental inflation. On the contrary, it only kicks the can of displacement further down the road. Families certainly are not seeing annual raises in their paychecks of 7% per year plus inflation. We are lucky if we even get a cost of living adjustment let alone an actual raise, and even less a raise as large as 7%.

renters marchAnother glaring problem with the currently proposed limit on rent increases is that it exempts all new buildings for 15 years after they are built. With recent large increases in Oregon’s population, and the massive building boom over the past decade in cities from Portland to Bend, there is no doubt that this exemption will leave out tens of thousands of families across the state who will still be subject to unlimited and out of control rent increases at the whim of their landlords. This is not right, it is not just, and it is a piece of the proposal that needs to change. A good example and benchmark might be New York City. As pointed out by the Willamette Week, landlords there were limited to increasing rent by 1.5% last year, which is about the same rate as general inflation was for the year.

The just cause eviction policy in the current proposal is another piece that is at the same time both of vital importance and in need of stronger revision. As is, the proposal still permits no-cause evictions during the first year of a tenant’s residency in a new home. A year is also the standard term of a lease, at least in the Portland area. So you essentially have to make it through your whole first lease at a new home, decide you want to stay, and assuming that your landlord decides to renew your lease then you are finally protected from no-cause evictions. A year gives landlords too much time to evict families for no reason, and unfortunately leaves tenants with at least an entire year of instability and uncertainty every time they have to move.

This loophole is concerning for a number of reasons. Will we see a spike in no-cause evictions within the first year of residency? Or will there be a significant uptick in landlords refusing to renew leases in order to skirt around just-cause eviction law? A year is too long and this is something in the current proposal that needs to be strengthened if not eliminated altogether. To be fair, even most union contracts and union jobs have probationary periods before just-cause policy kicks in, where an employee can be fired for no cause. If some similar probationary period is a must for just-cause eviction policy in rental housing, then at most 3 months seems like a reasonable amount of time for a landlord to ensure their new tenant will pay the rent without forcing tenants to live a life of perpetual housing instability.

Written by Justin Norton-Kertson, Portland Jobs with Justice Solidarity Organizer.

Does Burgerville really ‘serve with love’?

Growing up in a Presbyterian family in Atlanta in the ’80s, I learned important lessons about faith, religion, and food. One thing I learned was that after the blessing before dinner, it was best to avoid talk of religion until we finished eating. Very few things can make you feel less welcome than someone trying to stuff their religious beliefs down your throat along with your mashed potatoes.

As the Executive Director of Portland Jobs with Justice, I’ve been surprised to learn that Vancouver-based Burgerville and its longtime leader, Tom Mears, think very differently about religion and food. Mears wrote a book in 2017 called ‘Serve With Love,’ which tells the story of how Burgerville transformed itself into a “mission led” company, based on lofty principles: upholding the dignity of all, making health care available for employees, and helping workers grow and succeed.

Burgerville has been hostile to workers’ organizing, and has been slow in negotiating a contract with workers at the unionized stores

While most Christians would support those principles at face value, we should look deeper at what Mears’ book is actually serving up.  The book is promoted by a global organization called the Nehemiah Project, which exists to train “kingdom companies” in “Biblical entrepreneurship(™)”. And if you are scratching your head wondering what that means, you can pay the Nehemiah Project $3,770 to get certified in it at one of their seminars!

BVWU Charity
Supporters of Burgerville workers outside of Burgerville CEO Tom Mears church. They spoke to churchgoers about how many Burgerville workers experience houselessness and food insecurity, even as they work full time hours.

Like a day-old french fry, it gets more unappetizing. Burgerville workers throughout the Portland area have been involved in a two year effort to organize a union to win fair wages and enough hours to be able to support themselves, affordable health care so they can take care of themselves, and a voice at work.  Workers have won elections to recognize their union at two stores and recently won another election at a third store in Portland. However, Burgerville has been hostile to workers’ organizing, and has been slow in negotiating a contract with workers at the unionized stores. The company’s anti-union campaign led to an ongoing boycott and regular strikes and pickets at several stores.

Turns out that Mears is just part of the Christian corporate filler involved in this recipe.  The website for Serve With Love has an endorsement from a retired Wells Fargo executive, Jeff Grubb. Grubb is a paid trustee of another Vancouver-based entity, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, a $1.2 billion endowed foundation.  The Murdock Trust, among many laudable grants and investments, granted almost $1 million to the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ hate group founded by James Dobson. They also gave nearly $500,000 to the Freedom Foundation, an anti-worker group opposing minimum wage improvements, paid sick days, and public employee unions.

Dealing fairly with real life employees demanding justice and ending connections with hate groups and anti-worker foundations seem like great ways to live out Mears’ and Burgerville’s words.  We can talk about Biblical entrepreneurship(™) after everyone has eaten.

By Will Layng, Executive Director of Portland Jobs with Justice

Rebuke of Mayor’s Protest Limits is a Victory for the Left

Portland’s City Council recently voted 3-2 against a proposal by Mayor Ted Wheeler, and backed by Police Chief Danielle Outlaw, to give him new powers to limit the time, place, and size of protests in an effort to curb large and violent brawls at downtown public protests.

Those brawls between fascist street gangs like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer on the one hand and anti-fascist activists on the other, have grown in frequency, size, and intensity over the past year. Many people out there may wonder why rejecting the proposal is a victory for the Left. Don’t we want to stop fascist street gangs from organizing in our town, from marching and brawling in our streets, from threatening and attacking people? Wouldn’t this new ordinance have given the Mayor and the police the power to do that?

SolidaritySquadLogoORedAs the Solidarity Organizer for Portland Jobs with Justice, I’d like to briefly explore why the answer is not that simple and why this is indeed a victory for Portland’s Left.

We have seen Mayor Wheeler provide free and private use of public bus services to these fascist street gangs.

We have seen time and again the Portland Police use disproportionate and violent, deadly force against the Left when we come out to protest fascists. We’ve seen the Chief defend that use of use of force by publicly mocking the Left and all but pledging allegiance to the defense of an armed right wing.

It seems to me that what we have learned from all this experience is that whatever new powers the Mayor and Chief have will undoubtedly be used disproportionately against the Left in our attempts to defend our community from the fascist creep.

If that is true then the path forward that leads us to an end of violence and street brawls in Portland certainly does not include giving the Mayor and Police Chief new, quasi-dictatorial, unconstitutional powers that they would undoubtedly use in the future to justify further and greater violence against the Left.

The path forward lies in continuing to build the relationships and coalitions needed to engage in mass mobilizations that counter, shut down, and deny space and a platform to the fascist street gangs that are invading our community. The path forward is to come together and build a united front so big that racism and fascism drown in a sea of popular resistance.

Let’s get to work and build that movement together!

Help JwJ in the struggle to protect our community and to fight for economic, racial, and gender justice. Make a donation to Portland JwJ and take the JwJ Solidarity Pledge to show up five times per year for other people’s struggles!

Building Sanctuary In Our Movement

Ballots have arrived at the homes of voters across Oregon, and while there are many important ballot measures and candidate races to consider, I wanted to take a moment today to speak specifically and personally to a measure that I know has concerned a great number of people in our coalition.  

My name is Robert Camarillo, I’m the Executive Secretary of the Oregon Building Trades Council, and I also serve as the Immigrant Rights Chair at Portland Jobs with Justice.  Our coalition has endorsed NO on Measure 105, which, if passed, would stand to repeal Oregon’s 30 year old sanctuary state law. Not only is defeating Measure 105 important as a means to protect our current law, but moreover, I believe that a NO vote is important in speaking to what we want to build and become.  

The Labor movement has at our core the value that an injury to one is an injury to all. From the shop floors, construction sites, kitchens and offices, so many of us can call to mind moments in our own working lives where solidarity among workers created moments of sanctuary from unfair treatment.

The proponents of Measure 105 would want to see our vision of solidarity destroyed, to call to the worst of our fears and inclinations. I say no, and that solidarity is built upon defending all workers.

I say that this fight is one we can win, and we will do so by calling to the better angels of our nature. Solidarity will protect and build sanctuary, moving closer towards the just society we envision.  I am proud to be the son of immigrants, I am proud to be organizing in the Labor movement, and I ask that you join me and Portland Jobs with Justice in voting NO on 105.

In solidarity and with hope for the future,

Robert Camarillo

This is What Solidarity Looks Like

IMG_2326Following on the heels of a wave of successful and massive statewide teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona, teacher’s across southwest Washington went on strike after districts tried to keep money in the bank that had been handed down by the state legislature specifically to pay for raises and more teachers.

Despite that fact that teachers pay for supplies out of their own pockets, have to work second and third jobs to pay their bills, and are generally overworked, the bad bosses at the district offices thought padding their rainy day funds was more important than living wages for teachers.

At Portland Jobs with Justice we knew it was going to be a tough fight and indeed districts held out, some even filed injunctions to try to force teachers back to work. But we also knew that with students, parents, and the rest of the community firmly behind teachers who were ready to fight, that they would win.

JwJStrikeCaravanGroupWhen we learned that teachers across the river were striking we immediately began organizing community support, and on day two of the strike dozens of Portlanders joined the Solidarity Squad Flying Caravan. Over the river and #RedforEd, the caravan stopped at three different schools (an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school) in the Evergreen School District to provide strike support and walk the picket line with teachers.

For the next two weeks, community members continued to show up and walk the picket line in solidarity with striking teachers. Because solidarity is how we build movements that can win.

IMG_2196The Washington teacher strikes shutdown dozens of schools in 9 districts. Over 6,000 teachers went on strike and the start of the school year was delayed by two weeks for over 100,000 students. We were right, it was a tough fight. But the teachers stayed strong, they fought hard, and they showed us what it means to organize to win.

When courts ruled in favor of injunctions and ordered teachers in Longview and Battleground back to work, the teachers voted overwhelmingly to violate the injunction, risk arrest, and remain on strike. It is no surprise that within a day or two of that vote, districts began to cave.

Because when we strike, we win.

Local Labor Leaders Show Support for Portland Mayor’s Sanctuary City Actions

On the morning of August 2, 2018 a letter written by Portland Jobs with Justice, and signed by a dozen local labor leaders was delivered to the office of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. The letter is in support of Mayor Wheeler’s actions keeping Portland’s law enforcement resources from being used to assist ICE in policing first amendment protests that took place last month at the Portland ICE office against the federal administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy and the detention of immigrant children. The letter from labor leaders was prompted by Mayor Wheeler’s receipt of a letter from ICE that was critical of the mayor’s decision and actions.


PortlandJwJ_stacked_color_print
1500 NE Irving St. Suite 585 Portland, OR 97232
503.236.5573  | http://www.jwjpdx.org

 
August 2, 2018

Dear Mayor Wheeler,

We are leaders of local labor unions and labor organizations representing thousands of Portland area workers. We write in full support of your actions keeping Portland’s law enforcement resources from being used to assist the federal government’s Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  We are proud to live in a state and community that uphold sanctuary policies that keep federal government enforcement of immigration policy separate from local law enforcement.

We have been dismayed to see the rhetoric and actions from federal officials threatening local officials and governments that challenge misguided immigration policies.  We believe that our community is safer and more secure when local law enforcement is not pulled in to actions supporting federal immigration policies that tear apart working families in our community.   

We recognize that maintaining Oregon and Portland’s sanctuary policies can lead to tough decisions for elected leaders and we are aware of the threatening letter your office received recently from a lawyer for a union representing ICE employees.  We want you to know that you have our support in your efforts to keep our community resources, including police resources, from engaging in federal enforcement of immigration policy.

Sincerely,

Will Layng, Executive Director, Portland Jobs With Justice
Matt Hilton, President, AFSCME Local 328
Rob Martineau, President, AFSCME Local 189
Sandra Amolo, Interim Executive Director, Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project
Suzanne Cohen, President, Portland Association of Teachers
Meg Niemi, President, SEIU Local 49
John Larson, President, Oregon Education Association
Jim Fotter, Executive Director, Oregon Education Association
Elizabeth Goetzinger, President, AFSCME Local 3580
Paul Cone, President, Professional and Technical Employees Local 17, Portland Chapter
Reyna Lopez, Executive Director, PCUN Oregon’s Farmworker Union
Steve Demarest, President, SEIU Local 503

Does Burgerville Care About its Employees, or its Profit Margin?

The recently started negotiations by the Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU) for two stores will be the true test of whether Burgerville’s impressive marketing and their philanthropic donations are based on deeply held beliefs, or rather the desire for profit and tax avoidance.  

My family and thousands of other JwJ supporters are committed to maintaining the worker-called boycott of Burgerville until they reach a fair contract with their workers. BVWU (organized by the Industrial Workers of the World) was endorsed overwhelmingly by the workers at the Southeast 92nd & Powell and the Gladstone locations, in spite of a relentless union-busting campaign waged by Management.

My daughter and I were at a peaceful BVWU picket line a year ago during the Rose Parade. We saw the company’s paid union-busters fill buckets with horse manure… and proceed to dump them in the middle of the picket line. In front of the restaurant! At lunch time. I know Burgerville workers who have been unfairly fired for trivial offenses, like adding nuts to some ice cream …when nuts are a topping provided for free to customers.

We all appreciate it when corporations contribute to important programs in the community. However,let’s be clear that businesses get substantial tax deductions for those philanthropic efforts.  I absolutely support community swimming pools and public schools, but I hope for the day we can fully fund those with tax dollars rather than relying on corporate whims.  

Some people, including Elizabeth Hovde in a recent anti-union trash piece published in The Oregonian, demean our entire community by saying that young workers are simply looking to retire. In fact, the young workers I know demand authenticity and have a clear sense of when they are being misled. They want work that doesn’t market itself great community service when it’s really just making lots of money for the owners.

Young workers support sustainable business practices that don’t do further harm to the future of our planet. But they also wonder about how they can sustain themselves when we know fast food jobs pay so little and when our society sends them, under the burden of massive student debt, into a job market full of low-wage and “gig” employment.  BVWU members, who take the orders and cook the food, are the ones holding Burgerville accountable to their brand image.  Burgerville workers see the company’s marketing and its philanthropic donations…  and are left to wonder why they have to struggle to make ends meet?   

Could that be a reason the elections have gone so well for the workers?  Until these workers have a fair contract, I’m proud to join the Burgerville boycott.

If you support the workers at Burgerville too, then please join us for a solidarity social with BVWU on the evening of Tuesday August 14th. Click Here for more info about that event.

-Will Layng, Executive Director, Portland Jobs With Justice

Hope for Labor in a Post-Janus World

Today the U.S. Supreme Court announced its long expected decision in the Janus vs. AFSCME case.  As predicted, the Court aligned with its Koch Industries’ sponsored lapdogs in the Republican Party to undermine public sector employees.  Public employees remain the strongest bastion of the organized U.S. Labor movement, accounting for 49% of all unionized workers in the U.S.

At Jobs With Justice, we see hope in times of great moral crisis, and many in and out of our labor movement will certainly see today’s decision as reason for dismay.

Here are 5 reasons why we are hopeful at this moment for worker organizations:

  1. People like us! Public support for unions is higher than its been in 15 years, the result of young workers entering our low wage economy under huge debt loads, the #MeToo movement, and many other factors.
  2. We’ve joined the rest of world! Union shops are already outlawed in most of the rest of the world.  Including countries we think of as having strong, free, labor unions.
  3. The Red State rebellion! The public school teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona have dramatically changed the stakes- in states that outlaw not just union shops but collective bargaining for public employees.
  4. We’re (getting) ready! The threat of the end of union shops has shifted union culture to focus more on organizing members and less on providing services.
  5. Organizing the Unorganized! Many sectors of the retail industry such as big box stores, restaurants, and fast food chains have long been considered “unorganizable” by traditional labor tactics like NLRB organizing.  But unions who are engaged in grassroots labor struggles and winning, such as the Burgerville Workers Union, are proving that when we fight and follow workers’ leadership, we win.

IMG_3456 (1)

*Side note: Several weeks ago on the Portland Jobs With Justice Facebook page we asked our followers where they were finding hope for organized labor in a post-Janus world, here’s what the community said!