Board hears labor’s electoral impact
The OSEA Board of Directors learned about labor’s effective campaign efforts, appropriated funds to advocate for single-payer health care and heard presentations on the state’s Common School Fund and a voluntary vision benefit for OSEA members at its January Board meeting.
The Board met Saturday, Jan. 26 at the OSEA State Office. A presentation by Graham Trainor, political and field director for the Oregon AFL-CIO, showed that active get-out-the-vote efforts by organized labor can boost union member turnout 6 to 11 percent higher than the general population.
Trainor said effectiveness requires a multifaceted approach to contacting union members, including personal visits at the home and worksite, letters, phone calls and direct mail pieces.
The strong efforts paid dividends at all levels, with labor prevailing on nearly all their key targets, including taking back the Oregon House of Representatives, maintaining control of the state Senate and reelecting Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and Secretary of State Kate Brown.
Avakian and Brown have organized labor to thank for their decisive victories against strong opponents, Trainor said.
“There were viable (opposing) candidates for both of those races,” Trainor said. “I would argue that Kate Brown’s race, without our help, would have been much closer.”
OSEA members worked 206 shifts on the 2012 campaign and voter turnout among OSEA members was 90.65 percent — nearly 10 points higher than the general public at 81 percent.
The only targeted race in which labor-friendly candidates did not prevail was in Clackamas County, where candidates backing policies hostile to workers prevailed in county commission races.
The board learned that Oregon schools received $26.5 million from the Department of State Lands (DSL). The department sends funds twice per year to the state’s 197 school districts via the Common School Fund. All of the agency’s revenues are deposited into the fund. For more, click here.
In other business, Deborah Levy, a senior account executive for VSP, presented a possible new voluntary vision member benefit for OSEA members. It includes an examination, lens and frame services once per calendar year, with a $150 retail frame or contact lens allowance. Tints, photochromatic and scratch coating would be covered in full with in-network providers. The firm affiliates with several well-known retail optical outlets.
The Board also approved $1,000 off the legislative line item to Health Care for All Oregon (HCAO), an organization focusing on establishing single-payer health care. OSEA has been engaged as a noncontributing member since September, with President Tim Stoelb and Secretary Cyndie Meyer representing OSEA at HCAO meetings. Peter Shapiro spoke on behalf of the organization, saying that establishing single-payer health care in Oregon would be a long but worthwhile struggle.
“The principle, generally, is that no one should go without health care,” Shapiro said, adding that the Affordable Health Care Act alone would not stop the rapidly-rising cost of health care. The group will hold a demonstration on the State Capitol steps Feb. 4.