News briefs

Oregon Public Broadcasting workers win arbitration victory after rehired as temps

An arbitrator has ruled that Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) violated its union contract when it laid off 10 employees and then re-hired them as temps.

The arbitrator, Carlton J. Snow, ordered OPB and Service Employees Local 503, Oregon Public Employees Union, to negotiate a remedy. The union is demanding that the seven employees who returned be restored to regular full-time, or regular part-time status at no loss of pay and with layoff and recall rights, said union representative Claire Closman.

OPB laid off the 10 television production employees in July 2002, then offered to bring them back a month later as temporary and/or “limited duration” employees. Seven of the 10 accepted the offer.

“They returned doing the same jobs they were laid-off from and working under the same supervisors. Some even got overtime,” Closman said.

But because they were on temporary status all seven lost their medical benefits, paid leave, holiday pay and leave accrual, Closman said.

Local 503 filed a grievance and last month Snow ruled that the employer has an obligation to recall laid-off employees when it has enough work for them to do. By failing to recall employees to their former positions, the employer violated the letter and spirit of the union contract.

“The employer violated the parties’ collective bargaining agreement when management laid off seven bargaining unit members only to rehire some of them in their former jobs and with the same supervision, but as temporary employees,” Snow concluded. Local 503 represents about 40 employees at OPB, ranging from receptionists to videographers.

NLRB tells paper to bargain over ad rep commissions

EUGENE (PAI) — By a 3-0 vote on June 20, the National Labor Relations Board ordered management at the Eugene Register-Guard to bargain with Newspaper Guild Local 194 over commissions for the paper’s advertising sales reps and a new charge to clients for advertising over the Internet.

Upholding its administrative law judge’s ruling, the board said imposition of the new commissions — even though they weren’t paid — and the new fees were illegally unilateral changes in working conditions. Without an impasse in bargaining, it added, the paper could not compel them.

New ombudsman named to assist injured workers

SALEM — S. Travis Wall has been hired as the state’s ombudsman for injured workers. He succeeds Maria Carraher, who retired after seven years as the top advocate for Oregonians who need help resolving problems or complaints relating to workers’ compensation claims.

Wall has over 25 years experience advocating on behalf of people with disabilities. He is leaving a job as director of the Utah Office of Public Guardian to come to Salem. Prior to that he served as executive director of the Nevada Disability Advocacy & Law Center, Inc.

The injured workers’ ombudsman’s office received 52,593 contacts in 2002 with questions, complaints and requests for help from workers’ comp claimants.

The ombudsman reports to Cory Streisinger, director of the Department of Consumer & Business Services.

Wall will assume his new duties Aug. 4.

OR-OSHA boss De Luca named chair of national advisory council

SALEM — Peter De Luca, administrator of the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OR-OSHA), has been named chair of the National Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) for 2003. NACOSH is a 12-member committee that advises the U.S. secretary of labor and U.S. secretary of health and human services on occupational safety an health programs.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor John Henshaw named De Luca to the post.

In his role as chair, De Luca said he looks forward to advancing partnerships among government, labor, and management.

“The relationship among the federal government, labor, and management should not be adversarial,” he said. “In order to succeed, we must be viewed as a positive force for adding value to safety. We need to find strategies we can all agree on. Being able to articulate safety and health is the right thing ethically and also the right thing from a business standpoint.”

De Luca’s first NACOSH meeting as chair was July 9-10 in Washington, D.C.

PCUN’s Ramirez finalist for Ford award

Washington, D.C — The Ford Foundation has selected Ramón Ramírez of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN),of Woodburn, Oregon, as a national finalist in the Leadership for a Changing World awards program.

Leadership for a Changing World is a program in partnership with the Advocacy Institute and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. The program’s award recognizes leaders across the United States who are tackling the nation’s most entrenched social problems.

Ramírez helped found PCUN in 1985. The farmworkers’ union has grown from a small band of 80 to nearly 5,000 members. In 1991, Ramírez led the first-ever strike in Oregon agriculture and in 1997 signed the first collective bargaining contracts in agriculture in Oregon’s history.

Ramírez is one of 29 finalists and is eligible to become one of the 17 national award winners who will receive $100,000 each to advance their work and an additional $15,000 for supporting activities. The final winners will be announced Oct. 7.

Oregon AFL-CIO announces scholarship winners

Out of 140 applicants, four students were selected in June to receive scholarships sponsored by the Oregon AFL-CIO and NW Labor Press.

Devon Downeysmith, a graduate of the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy of Beaverton, won the $3,000 May Darling Scholarship, which will go toward tuition at Lewis & Clark College. She plans to pursue pre-law studies, focusing on the environment and the humanities. Downeysmith, who said she’s an admirer of environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill, was active in student government and served as a student delegate to the Beaverton School Board. Her father, David Smith, is a member of the Screen Actors Guild.

Carly Bodnar, a graduate of Sheldon High School in Eugene, will major in fine arts and minor in Spanish at Portland State University with the help of the $1,250 Asa T. Williams Scholarship.

Nancy D’Inzillo, a graduate of Grant High School, won a $1,000 May Darling Scholarship. She will attend Reed College, majoring in English. D’Inzillo has been active in several environmental groups, and in her church. Her mother is a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

Caleb Adams, a graduate of Hermiston High School, was awarded an $850 scholarship sponsored by the Northwest Labor Press, which he will use at Concordia University in Portland. He plans to obtain a bachelor’s degree in English and then pursue pastoral studies in order to follow in the footsteps of his father, a Lutheran minister.

In selecting the scholarship recipients, academic achievement, need, and writing ability were considered. Career goals that reflect union values were also a plus. The scholarships are open to any student graduating from an Oregon high school, and requires two short essays.

The May Darling awards are named after the founder of the Portland Federation of Teachers Local 111. Darling established the state labor federation’s scholarship program in 1947.

Asa T. Williams was a longtime president of Carpenters Local 226 who was known as “the godfather” of the Portland Reporter, a newspaper born of the Oregonian-Journal strike from 1959-65.

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