Building Trades Council endorses Smith for U.S. Senate

FLORENCE - Republican U.S. Senator Gordon Smith has been endorsed for re-election by the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council (OSBCTC).

The political action was taken at the organization's annual convention Aug. 21-23. OSBCTC is an umbrella organization comprised of 26 affiliated union locals representing more than 15,000 construction workers in the state. The roll-call vote for Smith's endorsement was 10,683-790. An endorsement requires a two-thirds majority of votes cast.

Smith is being challenged in the November general election by Democrat Bill Bradbury, who is secretary of state. Bradbury has been endorsed by the Oregon AFL-CIO.

The Senate race has been targeted nationally by both parties. Major fundraisers have been held in the state featuring President George W. Bush, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former President Bill Clinton.

During the building trades endorsement debate, delegates were torn by the makeup of the U.S. Senate (where Democrats hold a one-seat majority). A one-vote swing could split the Senate, which in turn would allow Vice President Dick Cheney to break a tie vote. Cheney, a former chief executive of the anti-union Halliburton Co., is not considered a friend of organized labor - especially not construction unions.

Construction trades delegates said Smith is a good person to have in the Republican caucus because he supports key building trades issues such as preserving prevailing wages through the Davis-Bacon Act and project labor agreements.

"Every time we've asked him for help he has been there," Bob Shiprack, executive secretary of OSBCTC, told the Northwest Labor Press.

Delegates also liked the fact that Smith's business, Smith's Frozen Foods in Pendleton, operates under a union contract with the Teamsters.

In a perfect world, some delegates said, Democrats would retain control of the Senate, but Smith would win his seat.

Delegates expressed frustration with Bradbury primarily because of his reluctance to throw out signatures on an anti-union initiative filed by Bill Sizemore of Oregon Taxpayers United, even though sworn affidavits were presented to him claiming some signatures were forged.

The signatures eventually were declared invalid and the initiative will not appear on the November ballot. Smith has a 17 percent lifetime Committee On Political Education (COPE) voting record as tracked by the national AFL-CIO.

Bradbury has a 96 percent COPE voting record in the Oregon House and Senate, as tracked by the state AFL-CIO.

The building trades endorsement is the second major labor endorsement for Smith. During the May primary he received backing from the Oregon State Fire Fighters Association.

In other political action, the OSBCTC endorsed Democrat Ted Kulongoski for governor.

On statewide ballot measures, the building trades supported Measures 15 and 16 to authorize general obligation bonds for seismic rehabilitation of public education buildings and emergency service buildings; Measure 25 to increase the state's minimum wage to $6.90 an hour; and Measure 26 to ban paying piecemeal for signatures on initiative petitions.

The group opposes Measure 23, the universal health care initiative; and Measure 27, which would require labeling of genetically-engineered foods.

Delegates heard a report from Paul Phillips, president of PacWest Communications, indicating that the Oregon Senate could very likely end in a 15-15 split.

He said Democrats have a better chance of wresting control of the House from Republicans. The council targeted several races, endorsing Democrats Jeff Barker in District 28, Chuck Riley in District 29, Mitch Greenlick in District 33, Mike Swaim in District 21, Greg Macpherson in District 38, Martha Schrader in District 39; and Republicans Derrick Kitts in District 30, Alan Brown in District 10, and Pat Farr in District 14.

In targeted Senate races, OSBCTC endorsed Democrats Barbara Ross in Senate District 8, Peter Courtney in Senate District 11, Richard Devlin in Senate District 19; and Republican Bill Witt in Senate District 17. Labor Commissioner-elect Dan Gardner and outgoing Labor Commissioner and failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Roberts spoke to delegates.

After eight years of downsizing, Roberts said the Bureau of Labor and Industries "will be crippled" if it has to cut another 10 to 30 percent from its budget. Governor John Kitzhaber has requested all departments to submit budgets with cuts of 10 percent and 30 percent.

"If the rest of the state (departments) had done half of what we did at BOLI, we would be arguing over how to spend the surplus," Roberts said.

A 30 percent cut in the BOLI budget, Roberts said, would force the Apprenticeship and Training Division to be turned over to the federal Bureau of Apprenticeship Training.

Roberts said he will work with Gardner in transition and also offered to help him if need be.

Gardner, a member of Electrical Workers Local 48 and a Democratic state representative from Portland, said foremost on his to-do list is to hire a deputy commissioner and a Civil Rights Division director.

Gardner said he would like to bring the Building Codes Division under the direction of BOLI.

"It's ridiculous that the bureau takes an apprentice through a four to five-year program, and they end up at DCBS (Department of Consumer and Business Services) with Building Codes."

Between now and Jan. 1, when he takes office, Gardner will work for OSBCTC as a labor coordinator for the general election, and for the Oregon AFL-CIO recruiting retired union members and groups for the Alliance for Retired Americans.

State Representative Greg Smith, R-Dist. 57, talked of the importance of companies hiring locally when they receive tax breaks and warned of upcoming attacks on apprenticeship and training.

"There are folks out there who want to lower the standards, that will come up next session," he said.

Smith, the son of a retired union plumber, said it doesn't make sense for a financially-strapped government to spend money on worker training when programs funded by labor and management are already in place.

"They get tax dollars to basically compete against you," he told delegates.

Other political speakers included Congressman David Wu, D-First District, and State Senator Tony Corcoran, D-Fourth District.

The OSBCTC passed an assessment of $2 per member per month for one year to fund Oregonians To Maintain Community Standards. The money is used to lobby the Legislature and fight anti-union measures. The assessment began in 1994 to combat a ballot measure attacking Oregon's "little Davis-Bacon Act." John Endicott, business manager of Plumbers and Fitters Local 290, was elected vice president of the OSBCTC. He succeeds Matt Walters, who died of a heart attack last May.

Stan Deuel, assistant to the business manager of Painters and Allied Crafts Council 5, was elected conductor. The following are OSBCTC endorsements for the November general election.

House of Representatives

HD 1-Wayne Krieger, R; HD 2-Susan Morgan, R; HD 5-Alan Bates, D; HD 6-Rob Patridge, R; HD 7-Jeff Krus, R; HD 8-Floyd Prozanski, D; HD 9-Joanne Verger, D; HD 10-Alan Brown, R; HD 11-Phil Barnhart, D; HD 12-Terry Beyer, D; HD 13-Robert Ackerman, D; HD 14-Pat Farr, R; HD 15-Betsy Close, R; HD 16-Kelley Wirth, D; HD 17-Jeff Kropf, R; HD 18-Tootie Smith, R; HD 19-Dan Doyle, R; HD 21-Mike Swaim, D; HD 22-Cliff Zauner, R; HD 23-Lane Shetterly, R; HD 25-Vic Backlund, R; HD 26-Jerry Krummel, R; HD 27-Mark Hass, D; HD 28-Jeff Barker, D; HD 29-Chuck Riley, D; HD 30-Derrick Kitts, R; HD 31-Betsy Johnson, D; HD 32-Elaine Hopson, D; HD 33-Mitch Greenlick, D; HD 35-Max Williams, R; HD 36-Mary Nolan, D; HD 37-Randy Miller, R; HD 38-Greg Macpherson, D; HD 39-Martha Schrader, D; HD 40-Dave Hunt, D; HD 41-Carolyn Tomei, D; HD 42-Diane Rosenbaum, D; HD 43-Deborah Kafoury, D; HD 44-Gary Hansen, D; HD 45-Jackie Dingfelder, D; HD 46-Steve March, D; HD 47-Jeff Merkley, D; HD 48-Mike Schaufler, D; HD 49-Karen Minnis, R; HD 50-Laurie Monnes-Anderson, D; HD 51-Jan Lee, D; HD 52-Patti Smith, R; HD 53-Ben Westlund, R; HD 56-Bill Garrard, R; HD 57-Greg Smith, R; HD 58-Bob Jenson, R; HD 60-Tom Butler, R.

Oregon Senate

SD 3-Lenn Hannon, R; SD 4-Tony Corcoran, D; SD 6-Bill Morrisette, D; SD 7-Vicki Walker, D; SD 8-Barbara Ross, D; SD 10-Jackie Winters, R; SD 11-Peter Courtney, D; SD 13-Charles Starr, R; SD 15-Bruce Starr, R; SD 16-Joan Dukes, D; SD 17-Bill Witt, R; SD 19-Richard Devlin, D; SD 20-Kurt Schrader, D; SD 24-Frank Shields, D; SD 26-Rick Metsger, D.

September 6, 2002 issue

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