Oregon Senate confirms Kitzhaber appointees


The Oregon Senate voted Feb. 13 to confirm several dozen executive branch appointments, including several of importance to organized labor. The office of Governor John Kitzhaber announced the nominations Feb. 3.

  • On the three-member Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB) Kathryn Logan, senior assistant attorney general at the Oregon Department of Justice, will become the management-side member. ERB judges labor law cases that have to do with state and local public employee unionization. Logan has represented the City of Salem and the state Department of Administrative Services as a management-side labor attorney. She takes office March 1, replacing Vickie Cowan, who retired Dec. 31.  Board service is a full-time job, and terms are four years. Logan will serve the remainder of Cowan’s term, which expires June 30, 2013. Board chair Susan Rossiter continues to serve a term that expired Sept. 30, 2011. As for the labor-side member of the Board — Paul Gamson — his term expires June 30. Kitzhaber labor liaison Duke Shepard said the governor used a new process for the ERB appointment, in that both management and labor representatives were asked to serve as a screening committee. The labor representatives were Oregon School Employees Association Executive Director Steven Araujo and Association of Engineering Employees of Oregon co-executive director Joelle Davis. Shepard said the intent was to make ERB less polarized than its private sector counterpart the National Labor Relations Board — by having board members that were acceptable to both labor and management. Shepard said no decision has been made about a replacement for the chair, but that Gamson is not being considered for reappointment. Shepard said he expects the same process will be used for Gamson’s replacement as was used to select Logan.
  • Washington County businessman Isao “Tom” Tsuruta was confirmed to the nine-member Port of Portland Board of Commissioners, replacing Oregon AFSCME executive director Ken Allen. Allen stepped down to be able to devote more time to the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Board, to which he was appointed in December; that board will advise the creation of the health insurance exchange mandated by federal health reform legislation. Port of Portland commissioners represent different geographic areas within the Port’s economic impact area, and the commission still has two other representatives of organized labor: Oregon AFL-CIO president Tom Chamberlain and Bruce Holte of ILWU Local 8. The board is the governing body for the Port, which includes five marine terminals, four airports, seven industrial parks and the Portland Shipyard.
  • Business consultant Travis Stovall, and Bruce Warner, former executive director of the Portland Development Commission, were confirmed to the seven-member TriMet Board, replacing Richard Van Beveren and Teamsters Joint Council 37 political representative Lynn Lehrbach. Lehrbach’s departure leaves no representative of organized labor on the board at a time when TriMet and its union are in a protracted contract fight.
  • The 10-member Oregon’s Workers’ Compensation Management-Labor Advisory Committee, commonly referred to by its initials MLAC, got four new members, two each from labor and management, as the name suggests. The new labor members are Elana Guiney, Oregon AFL-CIO legislative and communications director, and Paul Goldberg, assistant executive director at the Oregon Nurses Association. MLAC makes workers compensation policy recommendations to the Oregon Legislature. One of the new management members — Carol Duncan  — is owner of General Sheet Metal, a signatory contractor with Sheet Metal Local 16; she replaces another union-signatory contractor representative, Sheri Sundstrom of Hoffman Construction. Guiney and Goldberg replace outgoing members John Kirkpatrick of Painters and Allied Trades, and Mike O’Rourke of Plumbing & Steamfitters Local 290, both of whom retired. MLAC’s other labor members are Tracy Brill of Portland Firefighters Association, Lon Holston of Laborers Local 483, and John Mohlis of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council. Marci Wichman, assistant apprenticeship coordinator at United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 290, had earlier been nominated, but declined the nomination for personal reasons.
  • Jed Scheuermann, assistant training coordinator at Local 290, was confirmed to the nine-member Mechanical Board, which helps to administer state code regarding mechanical devices and equipment.

Several previous Kitzhaber appointments also included representatives of organized labor:

  • In September Oregon Education Association Vice President Johanna “Hanna” Vaandering and American Federation of Teachers Oregon President David Rives were confirmed to serve on the Oregon Education Investment Board, a newly-formed 12-member body that will oversee implementation of a set of education reforms that were passed in 2011 over the objections of the state’s largest teachers union.
  • In November, Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Executive Secretary John Mohlis was confirmed to the seven-member Energy Facility Siting Council, which oversees permitting and regulation during the location, construction and operation of major energy facilities, and the transport of radioactive materials.

The governor also appoints some advisory boards which don’t need to be confirmed by the Oregon Senate, and Clif Davis, business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48, was appointed in February to one of those: the Oregon Innovation Council, which oversees grants and other help to start-up technology companies.


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