Why Unions Matter Campaign

Portland Rising launched its “Why Unions Matter” campaign in Fall 2016, with the goal of talking to students in local high schools, colleges, and universities about the importance of unions.   The campaign was highlighted in a Northwest Labor Press article (3/24/2017): Today’s lesson: Unions matterAs of Fall 2023, program speakers have talked to over 1000 students and community members at more than 60 events.

The Reason For The Campaign

This is an exciting period of new labor organizing but it comes after decades of union decline, worsening living and working conditions for most Americans, and continuing corporate resistance to unionization. One consequence of this history is that high school, college, and university students face a post-graduation world shaped by diminishing employment opportunities, ever more precarious working conditions, deteriorating social services, and growing social divisions.

Another is that few have any experience with unions, with the result that many feel little motivation to support them and the struggles of unorganized workers to unionize.  This campaign aims to strengthen worker organizing efforts and community well-being by giving students an opportunity to learn more about why unions matter.

Campaign Specifics

We network with teachers to inform them about our program and, if invited to present, will send a two-person team to their class.  One of our presenters will talk about their own workplace and union experiences, giving students insight into why people choose to join a union.  The other presenter, a member of Portland Rising, will talk more generally about worker struggles and highlight the ways in which unions help working people gain good jobs and support healthy communities.

We then take questions and give students the opportunity to sign JwJ pledge cards.  By taking the JwJ pledge, interested students will be able to keep abreast of on-going local labor struggles and, if they desire, support those struggles.

Finally, we also maintain a Why Unions Matter library that includes short, thoughtful articles about why unions matter, current union organizing strategies, developments in labor law, and corporate threats and actions against worker organizingks.

Join Us

We are always interested in hearing from teachers who would like to schedule classroom visits and in expanding our pool of union speakers, so if you have an appropriate class or a good story to share please contact us.

labor movement contributions

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