Oregon’s labor movement gathered at Portland’s Oaks Amusement Park on Sept. 2 to celebrate Labor Day at the Northwest Oregon Labor Council’s annual Labor Day picnic. As in years past, the Portland Local was there to meet with local members, build solidarity with fellow unions and to introduce itself to the broader public.
“In 2019, it’s pretty tough to not know how dire working conditions are for so many humans — in the U.S., and abroad,” said local member Jeff Rosick, one of the volunteers at the local’s information table. “The fact that our country has a national holiday that celebrates those who mustered the courage to speak out and stand up for their rights as humans in the workplace is something for which I’ve become immensely grateful. It’s because of them, those brave folks who declared that mere survival is not acceptable in a modern society, that we enjoy rules and regulations that enable us to live respectably and thrive. Don’t get me wrong, corporations continue — and will continue — to try to cut corners and costs at the expense of workers’ well-being and best interests. But, with Labor Day on our calendars, we’ve got an annual reminder that standing up for fair compensation is something for which we should all strive.”
Local member Elizabeth Zimmerman, who also volunteered at the local’s information table, took the opportunity to reflect on what SAG-AFTRA membership means to her. “I belong to a professional guild of trained individuals,” she said. “I got tired of being treated like crap during filming: no place to change or pee except in the filling station down the road; no chair or breaks on set. I got tired of cold pizza and warm soda as pay, and no chance to get a copy of my work. When I did my first union shoot, there was heat in the holding area with comfortable chairs, freshly prepared omelets and a crew who regarded me as a viable, contributing member of the production. In addition, I got mandatory breaks, they put my safety first and I received a timely paycheck of wages I can pay bills with. And, I get residuals every time my work is shown. I never looked back.”
As the day progressed, several members visited the local’s table to celebrate their union, ask questions and share ideas. They also picked up ride bracelets and “scrip” for food provided by the local.
“I really enjoyed a moment when two union members enthusiastically came up with an idea for a potential workshop,” Rosick says, “and were able to immediately write it down on a notepad to be passed along to Michelle Damis, the local’s new president. There wasn’t any form to fill out, no formal process through which to go … just two members with an idea, who were able to just pass word along. I loved that.”
Zimmerman is already looking forward to next year’s Labor Day picnic. When asked if she would volunteer again, she replied, “Yes, I would, but I would definitely come earlier and stay later. There wasn’t enough time to do it all!”
Top photo: Portland Local members Harold Phillips, Elizabeth Zimmerman and Todd Robinson volunteered at the Local’s information table at the 2019 Labor Day picnic. Photo by Jeff Rosick.
- Local News