News briefs

Portland Justice for Janitors campaign heats up

Union janitors are hitting the streets of downtown Portland with an aggressive campaign to win better working conditions and pay by increasing union density in their industry. Nearly 200 janitors, members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49, held Justice for Janitors rallies April 26 and May 10 in downtown Portland to draw attention to their campaign.

Local 49 represents about 2,000 janitors at 14 firms in the Portland metropolitan area - about 57 percent of the downtown market. Union representatives, with behind-the-scenes support from several local elected leaders, are talking to property owners, property managers and tenants about the low wages and benefits of non-union janitorial firms - and the advantages of a low-turnover, high-morale union workforce. And janitors and supporters have been leafletting non-union buildings. The Justice for Janitors campaign will heat up within the next two months, coinciding with the expiration of the janitorial master agreement June 30. The union's bargaining goals include extending health coverage to family members and improving wages. In Portland, union janitors earn $9.50 to $10.50 an hour and have a modest pension, seniority rights, a grievance procedure, paid vacations and holidays, and pay $26.10 a month for comprehensive health and dental coverage. Non-union janitors make $7 to $8 an hour, with no benefits, the union said.

Carpenters' Hackett endorsed for Corvallis School Board seat

CORVALLIS - Pete Hackett, a business representative of Carpenters Local 1094 and candidate for Corvallis School District 509-J, Position 7, has been endorsed by the Salem Building Trades Council, the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, and many locals in the area.

Hackett is active in apprenticeship and training and with youth programs in Linn and Benton counties. He said he opposes contracting out work and will work with school staff unions to find ways to fund schools at a responsible level.

Oregon House approves funding for baseball stadium in Portland

SALEM - The Oregon House approved a bill that will allow bonds backed by future state income taxes to provide capital for a major league baseball stadium in Portland. The vote was 33 to 25.

According to the Oregon AFL-CIO, which supported the bill, House Bill 3606-A provided safeguards to minimize risk to the state and limit its use of future tax revenues to revenues that would only be available if a major league team agrees to locate in Oregon.

"Those safeguards persuaded us to endorse the bill," said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tim Nesbitt. "The City of Portland will have to come up with additional funding that doesn't divert revenues from schools and local governments," Nesbitt wrote in a letter of support. "And, our unions in Portland, represented by the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, will want to be assured of a commitment to good jobs in staffing and maintaining the stadium."

It is expected that a major league baseball stadium will mean 1,500 family-wage building trades jobs during the three years of its construction and another 1,500 permanent, part-time jobs thereafter.

May 16, 2003 issue

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