Downey succeeds Younger at Multnomah County AFSCME Local 88

Jim Younger, the longest-tenured staff representative at Oregon Council 75 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), resigned last month as business agent of Multnomah County Employees Local 88 to take a job with the county's labor relations department in Portland.

His successor is Gabriela Downey, who has worked for Council 75 as a business agent at several AFSCME locals since 1990 - including a previous stint with Local 88, which is the largest union at Multnomah County, representing approximately 3,200 public employees.

Last November Multnomah County property tax appraiser Marla Rosenberger was elected president of the union. She succeeds longtime leader Joe Devlaeminck, who retired.

Younger joined Council 75 in 1984, where he served AFSCME locals in Clackamas County and all of eastern Oregon. Later, he took an assignment representing AFSCME locals on the North Coast.

In an interview with the AFSCME Alert newsletter, Younger described his decision to leave Council 75 as "scary."

"I was pretty comfortable with AFSCME," he said. "I'm sure I could have stayed put until I retired, but this was a very good opportunity for a change that will expand my career and frankly, pay a little more money as well."

In his new position with the county, Younger will negotiate contracts and work on employee benefit plans.

"Employees deserve good benefits; I believe that," he said. "I think AFSCME members will continue to benefit by my presence at the county."

Downey joined Council 75 in 1990 after working as an organizer for the Oregon Federation of Teachers. She has represented bargaining units at community action programs, the housing authority, and public defenders offices, as well as state agencies and small cities and counties along the coast and in Hood River.

She grew up in Detroit, Mich., and majored in business administration at Michigan State.

"I was horrified by what I learned about business and economics," she said in an interview with the AFSCME Local 88 newsletter. What's going on with Enron right now - that's exactly what I was taught in school."

Downey later enrolled in the University of Utah's graduate school in labor economics. For her master's practicum, she did research for the United Auto Workers at Walter Reuther Solidarity House. Reuther was a founder and longtime president of the Auto Workers.

Downey is married to Michael Cannarella, an organizer with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union who helped organize Powell's Books in Portland.

February 15, 2002 issue

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