Workers’ Rights Board Hearing Highlights the Exploitation of Immigrant Carpenters in Portland-Area Construction Industry

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A Workers’ Rights Board Hearing on July 27, 2017 highlighted wage theft and other exploitation experienced by immigrant wood framer carpenters in Portland’s construction industry. Over 100 people came out to the hearing, hosted by Portland Jobs with Justice and the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, to hear testimony from wage theft experts, carpenters, and labor leaders about the poor working conditions immigrant carpenters face and what can be done about it.

“One of the most difficult things was to get paid, especially when construction slowed down,” says Antonio Pulido through an interpreter to a panel of four Workers’ Rights Board members that included Mary King, Economics Professor Emerita, PSU; Oregon House Representative Diego Hernandez; Father Jack Mosbrucker, retired priest from St. Therese Catholic Church; and community organizer Ranfis Villatoro.

Immigrant wood framers talk about wage theft and lack of safety in Portland’s construction industry.

Workers not being paid what they are owed seems to be a serious problem in the Portland area. Over the past five years BOLI has received 148 prevailing-wage complaints and claims worth $1.12 million in Multnomah County alone, and the problem is particularly acute among immigrant workers where language barriers often prevent them from fully understanding the terms of their employment, and who employers feel they can more easily take advantage of.

The panel and the audience heard about not getting paid for overtime and being shorted on paychecks, safety hazards, and lack of adequate training. They also learned from Ben Basom, an organizer with Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, about how Community Benefits Agreements are “maybe the best way to ensure immigrant workers, and indeed all workers, are treated fairly on these big construction projects that are funded in part by the City of Portland and Prosper Portland.”

After an hour and half of testimony and questions the Workers’ Rights Board panel came back with a series of recommendations that include requiring all construction projects in Portland and Multnomah County that use any public funding to operate with a Community Benefits Agreement ensuring that women, people of color, and other marginalized groups will be well represented among employees and contractors.

“Pilot efforts on two Portland Water Bureau construction projects, working with a modified version of the City’s 2012 Community Benefits Agreement, achieved exceptional levels of participation of women and people of color as apprentices, skilled workers and contractors.  The key was dedicated funding – 1% of ‘hard construction costs’ – for compliance, training, recruitment and technical assistance. Providing support for contractors and demanding accountability are both absolutely critical, and best accomplished with the involvement of community organizations, including the unions,” said Mary King, Economics Professor Emerita, PSU and Chair of the Workers Rights Board panel. “Without support, proper oversight and consequences for failing to meet the standards of a Community Benefits Agreement, nothing changes despite decades of effort.”

The Workers’ Rights Board intends to take the recommendations to city and county leaders.

The full text of the recommendations made by the Workers’ Rights Board can be viewed at: https://portlandjobswithjustice.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/2017-workers-rights-board-recommendations.pdf

Results of Community Benefits Agreement Pilot Projects can be viewed at: https://portlandjobswithjustice.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/pilot_cba_results.pdf

Video of worker stories: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWBRTrVpxUk

Portland Jobs With Justice is a coalition of over 100 labor unions, community, faith, and student organizations that fight for economic, racial, gender, and immigrant justice.

The Workers’ Rights Board, a project of Portland Jobs with Justice, has been convened to help build support in the community for workers seeking to improve their working conditions.

Workers’ Rights Board Hearing: Exploitation of Immigrant Carpenters


Immigrant wood framers have been victims of rampant wage theft and exploitation in the midst of Portland’s construction boom. Over the past five years BOLI has received 148 prevailing-wage complaints and claims worth $1.12 million in Multnomah County alone. But workers are fighting back. They are organizing and demanding a raise to $27/hr on the principle that everyone deserves equal pay for equal work.

At the hearing we will hear testimony from:

  • Local construction workers about why they organizing, current treatment and exploitation by contractors, and why they believe equity policies within the construction industry are so important,
  • Wage theft experts who can place the rampant exploitation in the Portland-area within a broader context, and
  • Labor leaders on the importance of Community Benefits Agreements as a part of the solution to the problem.

July 27, 2017 from 6:00-8:30pm
at St. Charles Church
5310 NE 42nd Ave Portland, OR 97218

At Portland Jobs with Justice, we truly believe that an injury to one is an injury to all, and that showing up in solidarity and supporting each other’s struggles is vital to building a successful labor movement. In that spirit, we hope that you will be able to attend this important hearing!

Free food, Spanish interpretation, and childcare will be available at the hearing. Email justin@jwjpdx.org if you will need translation or childcare



Summer Solidarity Celebration to Welcome Will Layng, new Portland Jobs with Justice Executive Director!

Join Portland Jobs with Justice on June 23rd, 7pm at Ecotrust in downtown Portland for our Summer Solidarity Celebration, and meet our new Executive Director, Will Layng! There will be free food, cash bar, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, dancing, and music by DJ Infinityface. You don’t want to miss out so get your tickets now!​ $20 pre-sale, $25 at the door.

Click Here to Register for the Summer Solidarity Celebration!

There has been a lot of beautiful and much needed solidarity going around since last year’s election of an administration that poses a real and serious threat to our communities.

Solidarity and showing up for other people’s struggles is the foundation of JwJ, and we believe that the upsurge in solidarity we’ve seen recently is something worth celebrating. Building a movement to strengthen and defend our community against reactionary forces is long and hard work, and we all need to be sure we are taking time to relax, replenish, and have some fun so we can continue to be effective in our work. So let’s celebrate!

Mark your calendars for the Summer Solidarity Celebration we are throwing to celebrate the recent upsurge in solidarity action we have witnessed in Portland since the 2016 election, and to welcome our new Executive Director! The Celebration will take place the evening of June 23rd from 7-9pm at the Ecotrust building in downtown Portland.

Click Here to Register for the Summer Solidarity Celebration!

Super Solidarity Sponsors
Solidarity Sponsors
PSU-AAUP, ILWU Oregon Area District Council, ILWU Local 8, Portland Association of Teachers, Right 2 Survive, Teamsters Local 117, and Oregon Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.



Announcing Executive Transition

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to announce my transition out of the role of Executive Director of Portland Jobs with Justice.

As I prepare to leave my role as Executive Director and reflect on our accomplishments, I am touched, humbled and so very grateful to have been a part of Portland Jobs with Justice and the National Jobs with Justice network. Portland JwJ is a progressive grassroots organization that has always pushed the envelope in shifting social paradigms to advocate and take action for the rights of those left out of the benefits and promise of economic justice and full social inclusion.

Over the past two years, together with our community, we have won big for working people in Oregon with the Fight for $15, the successful fight to Stop the TPP, and working with our city to divest from socially irresponsible financial institutions like Wells Fargo. We have mobilized supporters to nearly one hundred actions a year, and leverage thousands of volunteer hours annually in support of faith, labor, community, youth, and student organizations. In the past two years our coalition has grown by dozens of organizations and pledgers. Our organization is financially stronger than it has been ever before, and our financial and CRM systems are in the process of being updated to meet the demands and opportunities of organizing in 21st century.

We have stopped deportations, and trained hundreds of students and new organizers and activists in nonviolent action, de-escalation and safety, creative intervention, power analysis, and the benefits of being organized at work. Our solidarity squad and the work we do with the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition is setting a model for the entire Jobs with Justice national network for how to keep all our communities safe in this period.

I am so proud of our new work centering racial justice and gender justice at the intersections with workers rights and economic justice. Portlanders are positioned at the leading edge of community and labor intersections with our work advancing racial justice and Black Lives Matter in bargaining for the common good with our labor union partners. Similarly, our new collaboration with enlace, Q Center, and Interfaith Worker Justice to train working people usually not seen as the capable and brilliant leaders they are – people of color, LGBTQ people, women, and young workers – in their rights at work, workers safety and health, and organizing and leadership development is groundbreaking and sorely needed in our movement ecosystem.

Last but not least, Portland Jobs with Justice has an impressive and experienced Board that is well-positioned to shepherd Portland JwJ during these tumultuous times throughout the nation.  As well, our dedicated and talented staff and community are committed to support the grassroots organizing and leadership development of low-wage working people, people of color, queer and trans people, women, and youth for the leadership that we need.

Once more, I thank all of you who have supported me during my tenure at Portland Jobs with Justice. We have shared many amazing, sometimes challenging, but always heartwarming, and wonderful times.  I am looking forward to my new role as a supporter of Portland JwJ, and upholding and sustaining my commitment to the powerful, extraordinary, and exemplary work of people of color, LGBTQ people, women, trans, and gender nonconforming people, and youth.  I will continue in my role as Executive Director while the Board Hiring Committee works on finding our next Executive Director.  I will then move into a support and resource role during the new Executive Director’s first weeks to ensure the organization’s continuity and stability during this important transition.

As the search begins for a new Executive Director, I hope you will help us find the right candidate to take Portland Jobs with Justice’s work to the next level. If you have any ideas or questions about the job announcement, please contact our Personnel Committee at jobs@jwjpdx.org. See the full job announcement here.

From the bottom of my heart, my sincere gratitude to all of you, and I hope you will join me in strengthening our commitment and support to Portland Jobs with Justice.   

In solidarity,

D Pei Wu, PhD.

Emergency Response for Unions and Community Organizations to support Just and Humane Resolution for Residents of the Springwater Corridor


 We at Portland Jobs with Justice know that unions, labor organizations, community organizations, faith leaders, and student organizations are central to the fabric of progressive society and movements in the 21st century, and that together we can uphold human rights and dignity for workers, for economic justice, and for racial justice and gender justice in Portland and beyond.

In the face of Mayor Hales’ dramatic about-face from the nationally recognized “safe-sleep” policy passed earlier this year, to announcing sweeps of houseless people as soon as August 1 (now delayed to September 1 in the face of organizing and a potential lawsuit), we felt that as residents of the neighborhoods (some of us live in Foster-Powell and Lents, among other neighborhoods) nearby, and people involved in making our city, region, state, nation, and world a better place, it is important and urgent to urge for humane solutions and resolution to the conflict created by the impending sweeps.

We humbly offer this simple toolkit for unions and locals, and other community and student organizations who want to support the resident- and community-led efforts of houseless people camping along the Springwater Corridor to live with justice, dignity, and safety. We hope this can be easily adapted to serve the needs of other organizations such as faith organizations if someone wishes to take on those tasks.

We encourage you to use this toolkit at your organization.

Celebrate 25 years of workers rights with us!


We are thrilled to invite you to 

Justice Jubilee
25th Anniversary and Annual Dinner

Friday, June 3, 6:00 p.m.
Hilton Hotel
Downtown Portland in the Pavilion Ballroom

For a quarter of a century Portland Jobs with Justice has been a hub of support for working people in our city. With your generous support, we continue to grow and deepen our relationship to the struggles of working people. Our continued work and success is only possible because of your support!



Workers’ Wonder Sponsors

Workers Wonder Sponsors

AFSCME Council 75AFSCME Local 328ATU Local 757SEIU Local 503Teamsters Local 206

Pledging Power Sponsors

pledging power sponsors

Vital Voice Sponsors

  • Basic Rights Oregon
  • Center for Intercultural Organizing
  • D Pei Wu
  • ILWU Local 8
  • Inland Boatman’s Union
  • Linda Rasmussen
  • Margaret Butler & Rich Pepper
  • Marty Hart-Landsberg
  • Maureen Crawford
  • Nancy Eichsteadt
  • Northwest Labor Council
  • Jay Thiemeyer
  • Kate Fagerholm & Richard Myers
  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

In addition to a program featuring workers and organizers, we are thrilled to welcome Professor Melina Abdullah as our keynote speaker and Diego Hernandez as our MC.

There are many ways to support our Annual dinner, ranging from sponsorship, digital ad purchases, individual tickets, in-kind donations as well as a donation of your skills or time. Please feel free to contact Kate Fagerholm via email Kate@jwjpdx.org or phone 971-242-8702.

To download a mail-in ticket and sponsor form click here.
To download a full sponsor packet click here.

Worker Stories from the Portland Area Campaign for $15

Portland Jobs with Justice is helping coordinate and staff the Portland Area Campaign for $15.  The goal of the campaign is a $15 minimum wage for 30,000 workers in Portland over the next 2 years!

The campaign seeks to achieve this goal by uniting and coordinating unions, workers organizations, faith institutions, and community organizations through contract campaigns, new organizing, and voluntary commitments. The Portland Campaign for $15 is building a cross sector movement for economic justice that includes the leadership of unions, queer and trans people of color, houseless people, immigrant workers, small businesses, and the progressive faith community.

Scrooge of the Year 2015!

The Peace House
2116 NE 18th Ave
7PM Friday, December 4th


10885049_10152938585230883_1076621011665677169_nScrooge of the Year is an annual award the community (you!) vote on to award to the year’s worst Portland-area player.  It can be a corporation, a politician, or someone completely different.

Online Ticket Sales are Closed but you can buy at the door!

Each ticket is good for 20 votes + 1 free drink at our annual scrooge party and can be purchased for $15 in advance or $20 at the door.  Proceeds benefit Portland Jobs with Justice.

We here at Portland Jobs with Justice think it’s important that the voting process for this award is true to our American democratic system.  That’s right – this election is for sale!  You may purchase as many votes as you wish to decide the worst boss in town.

Visit the Scrooge Page for more information and to vote!