Delegates tap leaders for AFL-CIOĦs top spots

ALBANY — Every four years, delegates to the Oregon AFL-CIO convention vote to elect the federation’s leadership: a president, a secretary-treasurer, vice presidents and members of the Executive Board. At the 2003 convention, it was a restructured organization under the New Alliance they were elected to: Instead of having some regionally-apportioned seats on the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board, all seats would be elected statewide.

With one exception, the leadership was elected by unanimous vote in uncontested races. Incumbent President Tim Nesbitt was re-elected to the top post. The only contested race was for the federation’s number two post — secretary-treasurer. Though incumbent Brad Witt had the endorsement of Nesbitt and several large unions, it was unknown at the start of the convention whether he would survive a challenge from State Representative and Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board member Diane Rosenbaum. After two days of campaigning, Witt won with 66,151 votes to Rosenbaum’s 54,049. Voting took place on the basis of membership. Rosenbaum was supported by Service Employees International Union, most American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) locals, Operating Engineers, National Association of Letter Carriers and her own union, Communication Workers of America. Witt had the support of most other unions, particularly United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Machinists District Lodge 24, Longshore and Warehouse Union and most affiliates of the Oregon State Building Trades Council. After this 2003 convention, conventions will be held every two years, not annually as before.

Between conventions, the Executive Board meets four times a year and serves as the Oregon AFL-CIO’s governing body. The Executive Board consists of 31 members: the president and secretary-treasurer; nine vice presidents and 15 members elected at large; and one vice president and four members selected by Oregon’s five local central labor councils.

The 10 vice presidents, plus the president and secretary-treasurer, constitute the Executive Committee of the Executive Board, and are authorized to deal with policy issues that come up between meetings of the Executive Board.

Finally, there is a General Board meeting once every six months, which consists of all 31 members of the Executive Board, plus one member from every international union not represented on the Executive Board, plus one representative from each of the AFL-CIO’s constituency groups [groups that represent retired, women, black, and gay unionists, for example.]

The nine at-large Executive Board vice presidents elected were: Leslie Frane from Service Employees International Union; Ken Allen from AFSCME; Gene Pronovost from UFCW; Grant Zadow from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Dick Schwarz from the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon; Debbie Lund of the Oregon Nurses Association; Bert Larson from International Association of Machinists, Woodworkers Division; Mark Holliday from Operating Engineers Local 701; and Jim Alexander, American Postal Workers Union.

The 15 at-large Executive Board members elected were: Alice Dale, SEIU Local 49; Gary Gillespie, AFSCME Council 75; Jeff Anderson, UFCW Local 555; Dennis Caster, Electrical Workers Local 280; Debbi Covert of American Federation of Teachers-Oregon; Julie Schuff of the Oregon Nurses Association; Bob Petroff, Machinists District Lodge 24; Al Zullo, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757; Linda Rasmussen of Communications Workers of America; John Endicott of Plumbers and Fitters Local 290; Ed Hensley, District Council of Laborers; Paul Esselstyn of Fire Fighters Local 1395; Debbie Sluyter of Office and Professional Employees Local 11; Jim Gourley of Paper and Allied Chemical Workers Local 8-118; and Al Dorgan of Steelworkers Local 7150.

Most officer candidates were seconded by delegates from their own unions, but AFSCME’s Ken Allen and SEIU’s Leslie Frane and SEIU’s Alice Dale and AFSCME’s Gary Gillespie, seconded each other’s nominations. It was a move that was meant to signify the improved relationship between two unions that have competed in the past in campaigns to represent public employees.

Allen said in Oregon the two unions have developed a good working relationship.

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