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Job Protection and Creation

Updated: May 11, 2020

Real-Time Advocacy to Protect Portland Workers and the Unemployed

I have been using my social media and email platforms to galvanize public support for swift and smart COVID-19 actions. See how:

Green New Deal Public Works Jobs Program

"Adams has never shied away from addressing climate issues. As mayor of Portland he announced his goal to make the Rose City the most sustainable city in the world, then shrank its carbon footprint through the Clean Energy Works program, established curbside composting, and passed the Climate Action Plan and the “We Build Green Cities” economic development strategy." UO Alumni Association website, May 27, 2015

Portland city voters approved the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) last year. Local communities of color led this campaign, to make big businesses help pay their fair share for Portland’s transition to clean energy, something that should be a top priority for our climate action efforts. I passionately supported it, walking door-to-door for it, and donated to it.

Approved by voters in 2018 as a new tax and a new program, PCEF was a startup effort. I hope it’s now ready for action. Portlanders need it in action ASAP:

  • Post-pandemic unemployment around the country is rising faster for women and people of color. “Federal Reserve estimates that up to 47 million jobs could be lost. No matter where the numbers ultimately end up, economists agree that the pandemic will have an uneven economic impact — and all signs indicate that minorities and women will be hardest hit.” Pre-Covid, Portlanders of color had higher un- and under-employment rates. I suspect this is doubly true now in Portland.

  • Many workers in this country are employed under the table, or are gig-workers, or were under- or unemployed to begin with. Because of these and other factors, thousands of Portlanders are not getting pandemic-related federal assistance programs. Others are receiving very few benefits. This is especially true for people of color.

  • Income inequality keeps growing in Oregon. An analysis by the Oregon Employment Department finds “a wide gap between the state’s richest and the rest of us – and it shows the gap is getting wider.” The report states, “High-wage workers' slice of the wage pie has increased in size, while that of low- and middle-wage workers has shrunk.”

  • Portland cut greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2013. Since then emissions have increased.

I propose the Portland Clean Energy Fund, which has funds, team up with equity-missioned nonprofits and government agencies to rapidly create a Green New Deal Public Works Jobs Program.

Working with local universities and national climate nonprofits, possibilities can include climate adaptation projects, like creek and wetland restoration, which can be readily designed and assembled. Carbon emissions-free, permanent housing for the houseless can be built. Tree-killing invasive species can be removed.

Fast-Track Already Funded City Projects

In 2009, we designed and implemented the City’s first local economic stimulus and jobs program. We fast-tracked projects to be completed in two-years that were already in the five-year budget plans. Portland needs to do it again.

Projects included new affordable-housing projects, transit projects like an extension of the streetcar, a 50 million gallon reservoir at Powell Butte, and the acceleration of road and bridge repairs.

Portland should monitor the unemployment rates in key construction sectors, and bid fast-track projects when joblessness is forecasted.

Boost Future Connect Summer Jobs Program

In 2009, to help reduce the public high school dropout rate, we created Future Connect program that includes scholarships to community colleges, enhanced summer school and a youth summer jobs program. The program is still going. We need to expand it.

“History suggests youth unemployment will surge, pain will last a decade after coronavirus crisis”

The City needs to protect funding for the Summer Youth Connect program. If it needs it be postponed, it can be reworked into an after school youth employment program in the Fall. The point is, we need to help our youth get job experience.

The City needs to protect funding for the Summer Youth Connect program. If it needs it be postponed, it can be reworked into an after school youth employment program in the Fall. The point is, we need to help our youth get job experience.

Online Learning Scholarships

With 20% unemployment rates looming, some types of online learning options can boost your employment prospects, stoke your earning power, or just allow you to virtually explore a potential new career path, or move further up the ladder in your existing career path. There is a lot of garbage in online learning world, to be sure, so buyer beware, too. Check with former employers or prospective ones to learn if they would view an online certificate as an added value to you as a job applicant. Exploring the ample number of free online learning platforms is a good place to start.

Many of the better online programs cost money or have a fee at the very end of them. I’d would seek to barter free ads on some city websites for a short period of time from local nonprofit or governmental online educational providers, in return for scholarships for unemployed or low-wage Portlanders.

Volunteer, Loaned Executives and Internships

I had to talk the Lane County Board of Commissioners into taking me on as their first unpaid intern. You can do that too. Government, nonprofits and businesses in Portland and Oregon will be cutting budgets and jobs. Interns are more likely to be hired as full-time employees. Choose an organization that has an excellent reputation and will impress future employers. Adult internships are an option now too. Volunteer, too. It’s not only good for the soul; it shows future employers you are not a slub. Help improve Portland and take your civic engagement to the next level.



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