AFL-CIO lands $100k FMCS grant

SALEM, OR -- The Oregon AFL-CIO has received a $100,000 grant from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to form a statewide labor-management committee.

The state labor federation will hire a half-time coordinator and half-time office person/bookkeeper to oversee the program in cooperation with business and government, said Oregon AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Brad Witt.

The state labor federation has begun the process of selecting a committee from local union affiliates and union businesses with cooperative programs already in place.

The committee will survey various labor-management programs, track the best ones, discuss issues and ultimately publish a manual outlining the "how to's" of forming effective labor-management committees. Teams of trained individuals also will be dispatched to interested workplaces to assist in the start-up.

Later, the AFL-CIO plans to have a regional conference on the subject, Witt said. FMCS is both the grantor and a technical assistant on the project.

Thus far, Northwest Natural, Northwest Aluminum of The Dalles and Kaiser Permanente are under consideration as the best examples of labor-management cooperation, Witt said. Northwest Natural has a successful labor-management venture with Office and Professional Employees Local 11, NW Aluminum has a good program going with the Steelworkers and Kaiser is working with the national AFL-CIO on a labor-management program that is off to a slow start after several strikes in the Portland metropolitan area in recent months.

Witt said the program has the support of Governor John Kitzhaber, who penned a letter to business associations asking for their participation.

Witt also reported that the AFL-CIO has received a $40,000 grant from the State of Oregon to establish a "peer counseling" training program for providers who assist workers who lose their jobs to downsizing and plant closures.

Witt said displaced worker service-provider programs vary widely from site to site and that in many instances the needs of laid-off workers aren't being met.

The grant will allow the state labor federation to establish guidelines for what it considers effective peer counseling programs and share it with providers.

"It will provide them with a better understanding of our expectations of what kind of help dislocated workers should receive," Witt said.

Finally, the AFL-CIO has applied for a $40,000 grant from the Oregon-Occupational Safety and Health Division (OR-OSHA) to study and write a manual on how to prevent soft-tissue injuries at work.

Funding for the grants comes from a portion of the civil penalties OR-OSHA collects under the Oregon Safe Employment Act.

The program began in 1990 as legislation co-sponsored by the Oregon AFL-CIO and Associated Oregon Industries. Safety and health programs become public property at their completion and are available for use by any worker or employer by contacting OR-OSHA.


Nov. 7, 1997 issue

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