News briefs

Judge dismisses lawsuit brought by fired custodians

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Janice Wilson dismissed a lawsuit brought by 92 Portland Public School custodians who were replaced with contract employees from a private non-profit company.

Local 140 and the 92 custodians classified as "helpers," filed a lawsuit last spring claiming the school district violated the state civil service law by contracting out custodial services. In April, the Custodian Civil Service Board agreed with the union, ruling that the district had violated the statute protecting their jobs from being contracted out. The school district appealed that ruling and on Dec. 20 Wilson ruled that the civil service statute did not apply in cases of layoffs caused by budget cuts.

The Portland School Board replaced all 330 of its civil service custodians with the private contractor. "This ruling has huge ramifications for any public employee that has civil service," said Local 140 President Grant Walters, who was fired from his job as a custodian.

"They tell us we've been laid off, but a layoff is caused by a lack of work. There is no lack of work at the school district. They hired someone else to do our jobs."

Walters said an appeal will be forthcoming.

Meantime, Local 140 is still waiting for a ruling from the Oregon Employment Relations Board on an unfair labor practice complaint the union filed during negotiations last summer charging the school district with surface bargaining.

Union-friendly resolution on City Council's docket

The Portland City Council will consider a resolution at its Wednesday, Jan. 29, meeting that supports union organizing and collective bargaining rights for workers.

Judy O'Connor, executive secretary-treasurer of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, is hoping for a large turnout from organized labor at the meeting. The labor council drafted the resolution initially, but it will be submitted by all four commissioners, including Randy Leonard, Jim Francesconi, Erik Sten and Dan Saltzman.

The resolution, entitled "Support for Organizing and Collective Bargaining," commits the city to "publicly support workers who are forming unions" and calls on all employers within the community to "provide their employees the opportunity to freely choose whether or not to unionize" and to bargain in good faith when workers do vote to join a union.

The resolution will be on the council agenda at 11 a.m. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall, 1221 SW Fourth Ave., Portland.

For more information about the resolution, call the labor council at 503-235-9444.

Lazott elected leader of Metal Trades Council

Rick Lazott, business manager of Portland Boilermakers Local 72, has been elected executive secretary-treasurer of the Metal Trades Council of Portland and Vicinity. He succeeds Mike O'Rourke of Plumbers and Fitters Local 290, who didn't seek re-election.

With his election, Lazott assumes an Executive Board seat on the Northwest Oregon Labor Council. Also elected to Metal Trades Council posts were Lee Duncan of Electrical Workers Local 48, president; Bob Sleight of Teamsters Local 162, vice president; and Vern Manselle of Operating Engineers Local 701, sergeant-at-arms.

All terms are for three years.

School Employees Local 140 swears in new officers

Grant Walters, president of Service Employees Local 140, which represents nutrition service workers and custodians at Portland Public Schools, conducted the swearing in of new officers and Executive Board members during union meeting Saturday, Jan. 11. Walters was re-elected to a new two-year term. He defeated two challengers, Joice Miller and Dave Vissi. Also elected were: Vice President Judy Potts, Secretary-Treasurer Carol Harms, Recording Secretary Wanda Winne, Sergeant-of-Arms Joy Hall, Trustees Tim Curtin, Katie Gage and Winne; Custodial Executive Board members Birdie Kirk, Cindy Van Ortwick, Bob Hazeltine, Shirley Payton and Steve Armony; and Nutrition Services Board members Candi Sparks, Winne, Diane Jones and Chloe Baird.

January 17, 2003 issue

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