AFL-CIO rates Oregon lawmakers

Oregon State Representative Val Hoyle (D-Eugene)

Democratic State Rep. Val Hoyle of Eugene was named the Oregon AFL-CIO’s “Legislator of the Year.” The state labor federation has released its ranking of all state lawmakers for the 2011 legislative session.

Legislator of the Year is awarded to an Oregon lawmaker who has “gone above and beyond to stand up for Oregon’s middle class.” Hoyle was one of 13 lawmakers in the House and four in the Senate to receive “Gold Medal” status with the Oregon AFL-CIO’s Committee on Political Education.

Hoyle was one of the top scoring legislators in the rankings.

First appointed to the Legislature in 2009, Hoyle was re-elected last November to represent House District 14, which includes West Eugene, Junction City, Cheshire and Alvadore. She was an assistant House Democratic leader during the 2011 session and served on the Business and Labor Committee, and the Health Care Committee, and was co-vice chair of the Education Subcommittee on Higher Education. Shortly after the 2011 session ended she was elected deputy whip for the House Democrats.

“She considered the effect of every bill on working people in her district, and was a true champion for Oregon’s middle class,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain.

The Oregon AFL-CIO’s top priority leading into the 2011 session was job creation legislation. And while only a few direct job creation bills were passed, many bills that will make it easier to bring good jobs to Oregon and strengthen the economy for the future were successful. Those bills — as well as bills to extend unemployment insurance, protect workers’ rights, and address other workplace and economic issues, were evaluated.

Additionally, the rankings included votes on select bills the AFL-CIO supported on behalf of affiliated unions and on bills championed by partner organizations that were deemed important to union members.

But floor votes weren’t the only criteria used. Many bills that were atop labor’s agenda didn’t make it out of committee during the 2011 session. Many more bills were introduced that would have stripped workers of key collective bargaining rights, but did not have the votes to pass out of committee.

“The rankings recognize that in a session where very few bills made it to the floor for a final vote, accessibility, being open to compromises, and willingness to take a strong stand were also important,” said AFL-CIO spokeswoman Elana Guiney.

Legislators with the highest points were awarded gold, silver and bronze status. The complete list is here.

In the Senate, four Democrats received Gold Medal status: Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum of Portland; Richard Devlin of Tualatin; Suzanne Bonamici of Beaverton; and Lee Beyer of Springfield.

In the House, the top rankings went to Hoyle and fellow Democrats Dave Hunt of Portland; Mike Schaufler of Happy Valley; Margaret Doherty of Tigard; Paul Holvey of Eugene; Greg Matthews of Gresham; Peter Buckley of Ashland; Jeff Barker of Aloha; Jean Cowan of Newport; Tina Kotek of Portland; Tobias Read of Beaverton; Chris Garrett of Lake Oswego; Terry Beyer of Springfield; and Brad Witt of Clatskanie.

Among the legislators with the highest marks, six are union members. They are Sen. Rosenbaum of Communications Workers of America Local 7901; and representatives Witt of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555; Barker, a retired president of the Portland Police Association; Holvey of the Carpenters Union; Matthews of Gresham Fire Fighters Local 1062; and  and Doherty, a former Oregon Education Assocation member.

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