Tom Chamberlain is president of the Oregon AFL-CIO and has an op-ed in today’s Oregonian titled “Jobs, jobs, jobs: City’s next mayor must zero in on economic revival.” In part, he writes (here):
…..There is a hunger for a candidate who will stand up for working families in Portland. The next mayor needs to understand that while we are a city that prides itself on creating jobs in an emerging green economy, Portland is a major manufacturing city.
Ours is a city (and, really, a region) that makes things: from streetcars to trucks, medical equipment to microchips, solar panels and aviation parts.
The next mayor must understand that our manufactured goods are exported through our port and airport. Those facilities are the conduit that connects products from across the Northwest to markets around the world.
Our mayor must recognize that we are desperately short of the industrial land we need to expand our manufacturing base. Manufacturing jobs are the shortest path to a middle-class lifestyle. Expanding our industrial land supply can and will collide with some of our environmental values…..
Chamberlain seems to want Portland to export more manufactured goods (made by union workers, of course). So do I. But, while he’s concerned about the physical infrastructure (industrial land and ports) for manufactured exports, he totally overlooks the need to develop our human assets for exports. Who does he think is going to design and develop Portland products for foreign markets? Or sell Portland’s products in China, India, Brazil and other emerging markets? I do not think Chamberlain has spoken or written during the past five years in support of any of the efforts to expand Mandarin and study abroad programs in Oregon’s public schools and universities. His export focus has been too narrow. If he truly care about increasing Oregon exports long-term, we could use his voice and the voice of Oregon AFL-CIO in making some simple educational changes.