Exhibition explores history of labor movement in Portland

VANCOUVER, Wash. – The Oregon Historical Society is exhibiting “Building Solidarity for 30 years: Portland Jobs with Justice” through May 15. Laurie Mercier, Claudius O. and Mary W. Johnson Distinguished Professor of History at Washington State University Vancouver; and Nikki Mandell, professor of history emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, are co-curators.

The exhibition delves into some of the campaigns and actions undertaken over the last 30 years. For example, visitors will discover how Oregon led the nation in efforts to raise the minimum wage.

Founded in 1991, Portland Jobs with Justice became a vibrant part of a “new labor movement” taking shape across the country at the turn of the century. Globalization, labor law and declining union membership were contributing to rising insecurity for an increasing number of American workers. Starting with a handful of organizers, Portland Jobs with Justice grew into an expansive coalition of 100 organizational members and thousands of individual pledge supporters. The history of Jobs with Justice will be the subject of a panel discussion at the Oregon Historical Society at 2 p.m. April 23.

The co-curators were aided by an advisory committee of historians, labor studies scholars and union activists, along with Bryan Potter Design and WSU Vancouver. The exhibition is sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association–Oregon chapter and Portland Jobs with Justice.

About WSU Vancouver

WSU Vancouver is in the homeland of Chinookan and Taidnapam peoples and the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. As one of six campuses of the WSU system, WSU Vancouver offers big-school resources in a small-school environment. The university provides affordable, high-quality baccalaureate- and graduate-level education to benefit the people and communities it serves. As the only four-year research university in Southwest Washington, WSU Vancouver helps drive economic growth through relationships with local businesses and industries, schools and nonprofit organizations. 

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Brenda Alling, Office of Marketing and Communication, 360-546-9601, brenda_alling@wsu.edu

Laurie Mercier, WSU Vancouver, lmercier@wsu.edu

Nikki Mandell, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, mandelln@uww.edu

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