Workers slam planned cuts to Portland roads and parks


SAM, SAM, ARE YOU NUTS? WE WON'T HAVE ALL THESE CUTS! City of Portland sewer maintenance worker Jerry “JJ” Johnson, above with bullhorn, calls out Portland Mayor Sam Adams in a chant, as fellow Laborers Local 483 member Jens Peill and his family look on. Peill, a recent City hire, faces the possibility of a layoff in a new round of budget cuts.

Over 100 City of Portland workers protested a new round of expected budget cuts Jan. 30 outside the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Stanton Yard maintenance facility at 2929 N. Kerby Ave.

Workers, represented by Laborers Local 483, said Portland can’t afford to cut back on road and sewer maintenance, as it will be more costly in the long run. Nor can their families afford the loss of jobs.

Jerry “JJ” Johnson returned to work on light duty in January after a fall on the job which caused a spinal cord injury. Johnson has been a city sewer worker for 22 years, and seniority rules make it unlikely he’ll be laid off. But he said he’s bothered by the idea that the City hired dozens of workers in 2011 only to propose laying them off in 2012.

The Peill family show their union colors at a Jan. 30 rally opposing budget cuts at the City of Portland. Clockwise from upper left are mom, Jessica Peill; son Sebastian; dad, Jens Peill, a carpenter for the City of Portland; and daughters Sophia, Brianna, and Fiona.

“They act like they couldn’t have forecasted this,” Johnson told the Labor Press.

Workers facing possible layoff include Jens Peill, whose recent hire to a City job enables him to support wife Jessica and four children — Sebastian, Brianna, Sophia and Fiona — all of whom turned up at the rally.

Several political office seekers made an appearance at the protest, including Portland mayoral candidates Jefferson Smith and Charlie Hales and City Council candidate Mary Nolan.

After rallying outside Stanton Yard, workers marched through adjacent Legacy Emanuel Hospital, which is also laying off staff, and then held a public forum at nearby Matt Dishman Community Center. Dishman Center is named after a public employee, the City’s first African-American police officer.

Click here for more images of the protest.


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