Committees, political action outlined by Oregon AFL-CIO

In his first order of business as president of the Oregon AFL-CIO, Tim Nesbitt asked that all "Pepsis in a can" be removed from the Oct. 1 Executive Board meeting of the state labor federation held at the Gladstone office of the International Association of Machinists-International Woodworkers of America (IAM-IWA).

The Steelworkers have been pushing a boycott against Pepsi cans because they are produced by Kaiser Aluminum, which has locked out more than 2,900 workers for more than a year. (See related story on What's Happening page.)

After the Pepsis were taken away, the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board got down to business, electing its Finance Review Committee. Elected were Pat Davis of the Pacific Northwest District Council of Carpenters, Pat Riggs-Henson, financial secretary of the Lane County Labor Council, and Alice Dale, executive director of the Oregon Public Employees Union (OPEU).

Looking at the soon-to-be-vacant secretary of state's position, the AFL-CIO will compile a list of persons interested in the job and rate them for a possible recommendation to the governor. Democrat Phil Keisling announced last month that he is stepping down a year early to pursue private business interests. Governor John Kitzhaber will appoint his replacement by the end of the month. Names being mentioned as possible candidates are Metro Executive Director Mike Burton, State Senators Peter Courtney of Salem, Susan Castillo of Eugene and Lee Beyer of Springfield; and former State Senator Bill Bradbury of Bandon. After compiling a list, recommendations will be forwarded to the full Executive Board for action.

Nesbitt and Secretary-Treasurer Brad Witt announced the formation of new committees to develop strategic plans for the labor federation's political and organizing activities in 2000.

The Political Program Planning Committee and the Organizing Program Planning Committee will present their ideas to the board at its next meeting Dec. 17. Nesbitt also announced the creation of: * An Outreach Committee to assist the president in securing the full affiliation and participation of all eligible organizations. Appointees: Bert Larson, IAM-IWA; John Kirkpatrick, Painters District Council 5; Tony Corcoran, OPEU Local 503; and one person yet to be named.

* A Union Defense Oversight Committee to budget and oversee the expenditure of funds from the temporary per-capita assessment to "defeat right-to-work-for-less and related union-busting activities." Appointees: Ken Allen, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 75; Dick Schwarz, American Federation of Teachers-Oregon; Pat Davis, Carpenters; Carl Tyner, Steelworkers; and three persons yet to be named.

* A Staff Screening Committee to screen applicants and interview candidates for program positions and forward to the president. Appointees: Garry Rogers, OPEU Local 503; and three others yet to be named.

Appointed to the Political Program Committee were Nesbitt, co-chair; Diane Rosenbaum, Communications Workers Local 7901, co-chair; Amy Hunter, AFT-Oregon; Ed Glad, Carpenters; Jim Gourley, PACE; and six others yet to be named.

Appointed to the Organizing Program Planning Committee were Witt, co-chair; Denny Scott, Western Council of Industrial Workers, co-chair; and nine others yet to be named.

Steve Novick of the Center for Constructive Citizens Action reported on several initiative petitions that have been filed in recent weeks for 2000 that aim to weaken unions. Gresham millionaire Don McIntire, author of Ballot Measure 5, has filed nine initiatives - three of them similar versions of a public employee "paycheck deception" scheme that failed at the ballot box last year. Another initiative filed by McIntire would require public employee collective bargaining agreements to be approved by voters of the relevant political subdivisions.

Between McIntire and Bill Sizemore, executive director of the anti-union Oregon Taxpayers United, 13 of the 87 initiative petitions filed with the secretary of state directly attack unions. Novick also reported that a couple of proactive initiative proposals have been filed with support from the state labor federation and that several more are in the works.

Nesbitt is a chief petitioner on an initiative that would require cost-of-living adjustments to the state minimum wage, prohibit new exceptions to the minimum wage (such as tip credit), and impose "real" penalties for minimum wage violations. Another initiative would make the corporate income tax rate equal to the personal income tax rate.

Others in the works are an "equal rights to political participation" initiative that would ban all initiatives or legislation which has a discriminatory impact on the political participation rights of any type of association; an "equal tax break act," which would outlaw any tax cut that benefits the wealthiest 1 percent of Oregonians without giving equal benefits - in absolute dollars - to every Oregonian; another initiative would lower the sliding scale on Oregon Lottery's video poker commissions unless franchise establishments pay a living wage (defined as more than $10 an hour) with benefits; a "workplace safety" initiative would reform the workers' compensation system by making employers fully liable for negligence (by reforming the exclusive remedy rule), and make employers pay their share of damages for any injury they are wholly or partly responsible for; also a "patients' bill of rights" initiative that would include a right to appeal a health maintenance organization's (HMO) denial of care decision to an independent review board as well as a right to sue an HMO.

October 15, 1999 issue

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