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Oregon bill would require union recognition through ‘Card check’

SALEM — For years, public employees in Oregon have been subjected to an exhausting, inefficient and expensive process to form a union. State law says that even after a majority of workers sign up for union representation, they must still go through time-consuming and often hostile elections in their workplaces.

A new bill, Senate Bill 426, will eliminate this hurdle and speed up the process for recognizing unions when the majority of workers want them. It states that the Employee Relations Board must recognize any union after verifying a majority of workers have signed up for representation.

“What this bill does is to make sure that when a majority of workers want a union, it is recognized without subjecting workers, management and the taxpayers of this state to a process that is time consuming, expensive and can be easily abused,” Mary Botkin of AFSCME Council 75 told the Oregon AFL-CIO’s Legislative Update.

California, Illinois and New York have passed similar legislation.

“Many states are agreeing that when a majority of workers want to form a union it should be immediately recognized," said Oregon AFL-CIO Organizing Coordinator Matt Swanson. “This protects workers who have already approved a union from delays, harassment, and intimidation.”

Portland City Council to consider card-check law

The Portland City Council will consider a resolution Wednesday, March 9, supporting card-check recognition in union organizing campaigns. The resolution, to be introduced by Commissioner Randy Leonard, will be heard at City Hall at 9:30 a.m. Leonard is a former president of Fire Fighters Local 43.

A final draft of the resolution was not finalized at press time, but in essence it will encourage the Oregon Legislature to adopt legislation that mirrors the proposed federal Employee Free Choice Act. The federal act would allow for certification of a bargaining representative if a majority of employees sign authorization cards.

AFSCME 88 elects new president

Business systems analyst Becky Steward was elected Jan. 19 as head of the largest union representing workers at Multnomah County.

She succeeds Marla Rosenberger, who retired in January as president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 88. Local 88 represents 2,900 county workers.

Steward, who was Local 88’s elected secretary, outpolled vice president Mary Orr in a 113 to 104 vote, and will fill out the remainder of Rosenberger’s two-year term, which runs through October 2005.

Steward, 54, works in the county’s Department of Business and Community Services. A county employee since 1987, she served in confidential and management positions before returning to a union-represented classification in 2000. She soon became involved as a steward, and later became chief steward, member of the bargaining team and the Employee Benefits Board, and secretary of the local.

The daughter of a Presbyterian pastor, Steward said she grew up in a family where social justice meant something. The family moved to Portland in 1966, and Steward graduated from Jackson High School, and later earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Portland State University while working at Pacific Northwest Bell.

Steward said she wants to strengthen Local 88 by recruiting and mentoring new stewards, and by increasing the union’s presence in the workplace.

Bargaining — over wages only —is scheduled to begin in April.


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