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Gloomy Days, But a Ray of Hope, for Oregon Workers

Report
September 3, 2010 Download PDF

Executive Summary

Labor Day is an appropriate moment to reflect on the state of Oregon workers. This year’s holiday takes place as the nation continues to struggle with the effects of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Not surprisingly, for most Oregon workers the state of affairs is a tough one. In particular,


Corporations have also felt the effects of the downturn, although they were cushioned by rapid jumps in profits and income prior to the recession. OCPP estimates that corporate profits in Oregon were about $15 billion in 2009, essentially the same level as in 2008. But amid this gloomy scenario, there is one ray of hope for Oregon workers: unionization appears to be holding up better in Oregon than in the nation as a whole. Last year, 17 percent of Oregon’s workforce belonged to a union, the third year in a row that the state has seen an uptick in unionization rates. Recent data demonstrates that unions have played a key role in raising wages and benefits, particularly for low-income workers. And research shows that all workers, not just union members, benefit from the union gains. As Oregon workers confront the toughest economic challenges in over 70 years, they should welcome a stronger union voice.