JwJ’s base was in the organized labor movement, but it actively sought to build a broader coalition of partners, linking workplace issues around wages, benefits, and working conditions with broader concerns about the community’s social and economic welfare. It built a new coalition of community-based labor activism that reached out to previously unheard segments of the workforce and community. This panel will serve as plenary to the Pacific Northwest Labor History Conference and will explore the history of JwJ’s origins and development as an activist organization. Representatives from labor, faith, and community organizations will discuss their experiences with this new social justice movement.
Margaret Butler grew up in Portland and spent forty years in the labor movement. At age twenty, she took a year off from her studies at Lewis & Clark and participated in the drive to organize Multnomah County library workers into an independent union, which later became part of AFSCME Local 88. After she finished her history degree at Lewis & Clark, she took a position as a telephone operator at the phone company. She became active in the union, Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7901, and during her twelve years at the phone company served as steward, chief steward, area vice president, and executive vice president. In 1991, Butler helped found Portland Jobs with Justice, and the following year, she went to work as an organizer for national CWA. In 1996, she became Portland Jobs with Justice’s first staff person. She served as Portland JwJ’s Director for seventeen years, during which she also co-chaired Jobs with Justice’s national board of directors. Since retirement, she has been hiking, working for climate justice, and preserving labor history.
Alice Dale began working in the Oregon labor movement in 1978, at what is now Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503. During her tenure, Local 503 came to represent public employees as well as private not-for-profit and homecare workers. Dale served as staff attorney and ultimately as executive director for seventeen years, after which she worked for seven years as president of SEIU Local 49. She then took a position as the head of the Property Services Division at UNI Global Union, a global union federation headquartered in Switzerland that is comprised of unions in 150 countries that represent 20 million workers. At UNI, Dale was responsible for negotiating global framework agreements, including organizing rights, with the largest multinational companies in the security and cleaning industries. She retired from UNI in 2016. Alice believes that effective unions require a strong, diverse activist base of members who own their union’s decision-making and are active participants in all aspects of the union’s programs — organizing, collective bargaining, representation, politics and coalition-building.
Veronica Dujon, Ph.D., joined the Workers’ Rights Board in 2000 and currently chairs its organizing committee. She is a sociologist by training and has taught classes in globalization and building socially sustainable societies at Portland State University for over twenty-five years. Her research and publications focus on how to build socially sustainable societies, conflicts over declining natural resources, the role of women in the global economy, and the tensions between national development strategies and forces of globalization. She is currently the director for Academic Planning and Authorization at the Oregon Higher Education Coordination Commission. She leads the commission’s efforts to coordinate academic programs, degree pathways, and student success initiatives among Oregon’s public universities.
The Rev. Cecil Charles Prescod is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a brother in the Order of Corpus Christi, an evangelical Catholic religious order. Prescod serves as Minister of Faith Formation at Ainsworth United Church of Christ in Portland. He holds a B.A in philosophy from Haverford College and a master’s of divinity from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Prescod has been active in social justice issues since his youth. Among the organizations he has worked with are Ministers for Racial Social and Economic Justice, United Black Christians in the United Church of Christ, Mackenzie River Gathering Foundation, the Urban League of Portland, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Portland Jobs With Justice, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Love Makes A Family, Inc., Brother to Brother, the American Friends Service Committee, KBOO Radio, and PFLAG-Portland Black Chapter. In 2002, he received the Russell Peyton Human Rights Award from the Metropolitan Human Rights Center, and in 2012, he was recognized as one of the Queer Heroes NW by the Q Center and the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN).
Meredith Schafer joined the labor movement after she attended college and worked at Powell’s Books in 1999. After organizing with her coworkers to win a first contract at Powell’s, she became a shop steward and the first vice president of ILWU Local 5. Years later, she worked as an organizer with hospital workers in California and Texas, and after attending graduate school at Portland State University, she became a union researcher and strategic campaigner. She also worked previously as a researcher for the Culinary Union Local 226 in Las Vegas and currently is part of the strategic campaigns department of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation workers (SMART) in Washington, D.C.
Bob Bussel is professor emeritus of history and the former director of the Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) at the University of Oregon. Bussel has spent over four decades in the union movement, working with the United Farm Workers, spending ten years as an organizer with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, and twenty-five years as a university-based labor educator. He received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from Cornell University, is the author of two books, and has published numerous articles on labor history and contemporary labor issues.