In Focus is a question-and-answer series with people who are members of SEIU 503–085 UO.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Jason Stone. I am a Public Information Representative and strategic communications and writing specialist. I have a foot in two camps at the UO—I work under the administrative aegis of University Communications, and UO Libraries is my client. My worksite is a cubicle in Knight Library.
What does the union mean to you?
Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, our union is the instrument of workplace democracy, fairness, and bottom-up accountability at the University of Oregon. I also like to think that our union can serve as a needed standard-bearer for the value and importance of organized labor in the American workplace. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life.”
Dr. King said that during 1965. Half a century later, during 2015, the Social Security Administration reported that of all American workers per year:
- 37% earned less than $20k
- 50% earned less than $30k
- 62% earned less than $40k
- 71% earned less than $50k
The federal poverty level for a family of four is $24.3k—by Dr. King’s standard of a “tolerable life,” that seems an unconscionably low figure—and yet almost 40% of all American workers bring home less than $20k per year. If you worked a full-time job for $10 per hour all year, you would make approximately $20k. That makes evident the poor quality of the jobs we produce with our 21st century economy. For the long-term viability of our society, we need to do better.
Beyond the UO and the union, what is Jason Stone all about?
- Mushroom gathering
- Drawing and painting
- Dog walking
- Collecting, reading old books
- Eclectic taste for good music
- Boat trips and train rides
- Seahawks football
- Thrift store scores