Nine labor activists, including Oregon AFSCME Executive Director Stacy Chamberlain, were arrested this week while participating in a peaceful sit-in in support of Volunteers of America (VOA) Oregon workers, who are bargaining their first contract.
Monday’s sit-in was an act of civil disobedience in support of the workers, who have been negotiating for more than a year following an organizing drive with Oregon AFSCME.
Despite workers meeting the management team on many issues, VOA management has refused to sign off on a contract protecting union rights. VOA is demanding a right-to-work clause, which means workers would not be required to pay dues to support representational and contractual activities.
More than 85 percent of the workers elected AFSCME as their representatives. Workers have decided not to sign a contract that would weaken their union from the outset.
VOA has fought workers effort at every turn. Workers at the nonprofit live at or near the poverty line while CEO Kay D. Toran receives a total compensation exceeding $200,000. Workers are demanding a fair contract that lifts people out of poverty and gives them a voice in client care.
“These workers come out every day and help the most vulnerable in our community. We are proud to stand with them,” Chamberlain said as she headed into the sit-in.