When first joining CGE, I had often wondered how our humble grad union fit into the larger picture of labor.  I had wondered how we were connected to high school teachers or steelworkers or migrant farm workers.  The offices of Ballard hall, while they don’t protect us from the rain, do serve to isolate us from the struggles of our community in a way that perpetuates that feeling of not being a real human being.  With a years-long fight for total recognition, even CGE has been very OSU-focused recently.

So, do we belong to a larger community?  If so, how do we fit?  My first tangible brush with this community was when I attended the Central Labor Council meeting in December.  The CLC is organized through our parent union AFL-CIO to bring together unions that live and work in the same regions, and CGE is part of the Linn-Benton-Lincoln counties council.  In intention, the CLC should foster relationships that can be called upon to bolster rallies and support union business labels.  In practice, the organization is a group of passionate local laborers who care about human rights in their towns, state and world, and work together to improve people’s lives in the ways they can.

As CGE’s delegate, I have shared the slow progress of becoming a legal employee and just yesterday broke the news of our election’s success.  Most locals enjoy much more sober wins, for example, the Lincoln county school district finished bargaining arbitration after months and has little control over what the new contract will look like.  Firehouses in Albany, Lebanon and across the country are continually over-managed and struggle to even gain COLAs. But despite their own struggles, the other delegates continue to work to promote global human rights improvement.  The CLC joins our voice and funds toward legal efforts encouraging free-trade legislation to be fair-trade legislation, reversing the race to the bottom both in the workplace and environmentally.  The CLC also regularly holds community outreach events such as delivering thanksgiving baskets to families who otherwise couldn’t afford holiday meals, or providing Easter entertainment for the Albany children and families.

There is always more that can be done, but simply being around such passionate people turns on my “solidarity light-bulb”, and this is an organization that CGE needs to continue being involved in.  The next meeting is at 7pm on April 24th, and I would love to have another couple of folks come with me to the meeting in order to get introduced to this unique source of change and connection.   If you are interested, let me know.

Daniel Holder
Applied Economics
Oregon State University

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