Two dozen workers at the Fund for the Public Interest call center in Southeast Portland walked off the job for an hour at the start of their shift June 29 to protest the firing of nine-year employee Cortina Robinson.
Cortina is the third person to be terminated since October 2011, when workers voted to join Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7901. The other two — Kris Humbird and Mike Schultz —were fired in December. All three were active in the union organizing drive and all three were on the contract bargaining team.
Fund for the Public Interest is a national non-profit organization that raises funds for the consumer group OSPIRG. The Fund runs PIRG canvass operations in multiple states, and telephone outreach call centers in Boston, Sacramento and Portland.
Robinson told the Labor Press she was fired June 29 for missing a fundraising “ultimatum” by $47. She said in nine years at the call center she has missed only one quota, and twice has been recognized as “caller of the year.” However, since she became active in the union last October, she has received five warnings for not meeting her quota and recently was placed on probation.
Robinson and other workers say their call center has seen a shuffling of donor contact lists, with Portland getting new lists that were less lucrative.
Robinson’s termination also coincided with two bargaining sessions held earlier in the week that didn’t go well.
CWA Local 7901 Union Representative Joe Crane said following a slow start, negotiations had actually started to progress, though the employer still would meet only two days a month, and for only two to three hours at a time. Crane and Robinson said talks held Tuesday and Wednesday, June 26-27, digressed and at times became heated.
On the following day, Robinson was terminated.