News briefs

Portland janitors make some noise

Portland’s union-led Justice for Janitors campaign has chosen two downtown office buildings to be targeted for weekly picketing, part of an effort to get the building owner to hire a union janitorial contractor. The Fox Tower and 1000 Broadway, both owned by Portland real estate mogul Tom Moyer, are cleaned by non-union National Maintenance, said Wes Jones, organizer for Service Employees Local 49, which represents 1,800 union janitors in Portland. On Aug. 1, about two dozen union janitors and their supporters circled in front of the building entrances in what Jones called “noisy leaflets.”

Banging loud drums, shaking cans with coins and chanting “Moyer, Moyer, Shame on You,” the demonstrators could be heard as far as three blocks away. Local 49 signed a master contract last month with Portland-area union janitorial companies that includes a “trigger agreement,” a promise to extend health coverage to workers’ families if union density reaches 70 percent. Jones said that means the pressure is on for the union to organize non-union firms — or get building owners to switch to union contractors.

Jones said union janitors and supporters plan to meet at 12:30 p.m. every Friday at the corner of SW Broadway and Morrison to picket the two buildings and leaflet tenants and passersby.

Higher ed bargaining reaches impasse

SALEM — The Oregon University System has declared impasse in bargaining with Service Employees Local 503, Oregon Public Employees Union, which represents approximately 3,700 classified employees at seven state colleges and universities.

The sides have been bargaining since December and impasse was declared Aug. 8.

“I’m not surprised they declared impasse,” said Jim Brobisky, bargaining team chair for Local 503 from Southern Oregon University. “This shows the bad faith they’ve approached bargaining with since the beginning.”

Bargaining for other state workers by Local 503 with the Department of Administrative Services concluded last month. The tentative agreement provided little in economic improvements because of the bad economy, but it did see some improvements in employee-rights issues.

“Instead of modeling our settlement on the Department of Administrative Services settlement, they are expecting us to take a freeze on steps and wages and accept other major takebacks,” Brobisky said.

Workers in the Oregon University System (OUS) are state workers, but they have bargained separately from other state employees since 1995, when they were moved into their own bargaining unit.

The parties have one week from Aug. 8 to submit their final offers. Sept. 16 is the first day that OUS can implement its offer and Sept. 16 is the first day Local 503 would be able to strike. Classes start Sept. 29.

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