So-called 'Columbia Pacific Building Trades Directory' news to real building trades council

SALEM -- Pitchmen selling advertising for a so-called "Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council Union Medical Directory" are misrepresenting themselves, said Wally Mehrens, executive secretary of the real Portland-based construction council.

"We are not involved in any directory in any way, shape or form," Mehrens told the Northwest Labor Press after the newspaper received several calls inquiring about the publication.

Salem chiropractor Michael Freeman said he was contacted by a salesman who said Freeman would be one of only two chiropractors with an ad in a directory that will be given to "our 32,000 union members working in and around the Salem area."

Dr. Freeman said he was told union members would be encouraged to use his services because his business "was recommended by other union workers."

Cost of ad space ranged from $395 to $995.

Freeman said he has never advertised in a union publication and doesn't know many of his patients are union members, he told the Northwest Labor Press.

A copy of an invoice Freeman received after he was told someone would stop by to pick up a check displayed the name of the "Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council at 1752 SE Hawthorne St." in Portland. The real council, which hyphenates Columbia-Pacific, is headquartered at Kirkland Union Manor on Southeast 86th Ave., nowhere near the Hawthorne Boulevard address, which, it turns out, is that of a courier service.

The invoice requested that checks be made payable to "Union Communications."

Also, a media kit promoting the so-called building trades publication referred to "The American Worker: The Voice of the Rank and File," and "Labor News," over the signature of publisher Bill Kirkland and J.D. Wells, union services directory committee coordinator. Kirkland has no connection with Kirkland Union Manor, which is named after Earl Kirkland, retired executive secretary-treasurer of the Columbia-Pacific Building and Construction Trades Council.

Last winter, several Salem area doctors, lawyers and accountants reportedly received the same ad pitch from the same Bill Kirkland group for a booklet aimed at public employees. That solicitation came from the "American Worker: The Voice of the Rank and File," using the same Hawthorne address. Then, ad rates ranged from $275 for an eighth-page to $3,640 for a back cover page.

When the ad pitchman for the so-called building trades directory tried to get money from Dr. Freeman, the doctor informed him of the situation.

Soon after that, the Northwest Labor Press received a call from a J.D. Wells of the "Union Gazette" claiming he had a signed contract with the "Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council" for the directory and demanding that the Northwest Labor Press discontinue its claims that "we're a fraudulent directory." Dr. Freeman informed the Northwest Labor Press that the ad pitchman told him there was no such publication as the Northwest Labor Press and that the only "labor newspaper was out of Seattle."

The Seattle area has several labor publications belonging to AFL-CIO councils and local unions.

When Wells was asked with whom at the Columbia Pacific Building Trades he had signed a contract with, he said: "I have contracts in 133 cities, I'll have to get back to you on that." He never did.

Wells' phone call was tracked to Memphis, Tenn., but the International Labor Communications Association (ILCA), AFL-CIO, reports a file on The American Worker and Labor News as being based in Mississippi. According to the ILCA, no one from the national AFL-CIO offices has ever seen such a publication under those banners.

Last week headlines were made in Oregon after Attorney General Hardy Myers filed lawsuits in Multnomah County Circuit Court against three out-of-state companies for alleged fraudulent fundraising on behalf of law enforcement. Many of the solicitations were for advertising in police publications of which no copies have ever been seen.

Dr. Freeman and Mehrens have contacted the attorney general regarding the questionable "Columbia Pacific Building Trades Directory." Persons and businesses which have been solicited should contact the attorney general's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320.

The ILCA said it constantly battles "racket publications" in all 50 states. Most common are heavy-handed salespeople falsely claiming to represent labor unions with promises of "union peace and exclusive access to union members if purchases are made in union directories."

"We've had a lot of offers to do directories, but we're not buying," Mehrens said.


April 18, 1997 issue

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