New leadership at AFSCME Local 88


AFSCME Local 88's new president, Deirdre Mahoney-Clark, and vice president, Jason Heilbrun
AFSCME Local 88’s new president, Deirdre Mahoney-Clark, and vice president, Jason Heilbrun

AFSCME Local 88 installed new top officers Nov. 20. Deirdre Mahoney-Clark, a budget analyst for Multnomah County, replaced Michael Hanna as Local 88 president. And senior IT specialist Jason Heilbrun replaced Mahoney-Clark as vice president. Both ran unopposed.

Local 88 represents 3,000 workers at Multnomah County and three nonprofits — Transition Projects, Central City Concern and American Friends Service Committee.

Early priorities for Mahoney-Clark and Heilbrun will be dictated by the calendar:

  • The union will also need to decide whether and who to endorse for Multnomah County Chair and Multnomah County Board of Commissioners in the May 20, 2014 primary. In Local 88, the vice president also chairs the political action committee. Heilbrun said Local 88 expects to make endorsements in January and February.
  • Local 88 will also be renegotiating the three-year contract covering Multnomah County employees, which expires June 30, 2014. In contract bargaining, Mahoney-Clark said keeping affordable health care is members’ Number 1 priority. The County is evaluating whether it makes more sense to join a statewide insurance pool or to remain self-insured.

Mahoney-Clark, 54, says she didn’t know about unions when she went to work at Multnomah County in 1996. Mahoney-Clark was born in Tucson, Arizona, and grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon. Her father, an air force veteran, worked for the Oregon Employment Department, and always encouraged her to seek jobs that weren’t traditional for women. She worked in construction pouring cement, as a landscaper and treeplanter, at shops fabricating items out of plywood and acrylic, and at a Lake Oswego hardware store. Over the years, she learned to stick up for herself at work.

At the County, she learned to stick up for others. Unafraid to question managers, she was approached several times to become a steward. But though she poked her head into a few union meetings when union dues were raised, Mahoney-Clark didn’t get charged up about the union until she attended a Local 88 holiday party and met other members who were engaged. She cites the 2005 election of Local 88 president Becky Steward as her personal turning point; Steward recruited her to become more active, and Mahoney-Clark went on to serve as chief steward,  Executive Board member and vice president.

“I’m a person who believes in speaking up when I see something that I don’t feel is right,” Mahoney-Clark told the Labor Press. “I don’t believe there should be fear in the workplace. I believe the union can help people see the power they have.”

Now, as president, she’ll lead Oregon AFSCME’s second-largest local. Besides contract bargaining and the County election, Mahoney-Clark plans to help pass an Oregon ballot initiative legalizing same-sex marriage, and will work to oppose an anti-union ballot initiative aimed at public employees. She’s also a supporter of Health Care for All Oregon, a coalition pushing for the creation of a universal health care system in Oregon; Local 88 is one of eight AFSCME locals and more than 20 unions that are members of the coalition.

“I want to make a difference in what goes on in our county, state, and country,” Mahoney-Clark said. “The main reason I’m an activist is because I’m a patriot. I believe a strong working class makes America great.”


Labor peace at the County

On the whole in recent years, Local 88 has enjoyed a fairly positive relationship with the County as an employer. Hanna, the outgoing president, describes the relationship as collaborative, and focused on problem-solving. Local 88 has partnered with the County on issues like controlling health care costs.

Hanna, 42, is one of the founders of AFSCME’s Next Wave program, which encourages young members to get involved, and has been copied nationally by the union.

“I wanted to walk my talk,” Hanna said, “to step down and let others step up.”

Thus Hanna chose not to seek reelection, and returned full-time to his job maintaining County databases, from the library catalog to jail records and animal control.

During his two two-year terms, Hanna helped bargain a new three-year contract in 2011, and helped pass a stand-alone library funding district that will ensure budget stability for the Multnomah County Library.

Hanna, a database administrator for the County, also helped modernize AFSCME. He saw to it that Local 88 contracts dating back to 1968 were scanned and digitized, and began digitizing union meeting minutes starting in 1930. He also hired programmers to write a smart phone app for Oregon AFSCME. And he led a county task force that crafted a policy under which employees could opt for alternatives to the traditional 9 to 5 schedule. The policy will get a test-run from January to June 2014.

Hanna will remain active in the union, and will continue to serve as as chief steward and as a member of the County’s employee benefits advisory team. He’ll also serve through April 2015 as first vice president of Oregon AFSCME. And he’ll serve on the Local 88 Executive Board.


New VP

Heilbrun, 44, served two years on the Local 88 Executive Board before running for vice president. He worked for more than two decades doing IT for companies like Nationwide Insurance and Nike, but says he really found his home in public sector work when he went to work for the County in 2009. Aside from political work, he wants to improve AFSCME’s use of social media to help members get more engaged.

Local 88 elected other officers besides president and vice president: Jeanne Ramsten, treasurer; Korie Erickson, secretary; Nellie Stearns, trustee; and Executive Board members Gregory Franklyn (Transition Projects Inc.), John Talbott (Central City Concern);  Madolyn Frazier, Andres Avila, Matt Davis, Diana Grob, and Julia Porras (Public Safety Sector); and Michael Hanna, Kristin Wray, Tom Newsom, and Bruce Jenks (General Government and Library Sector). Trustee has a three-year term; all others are two-year terms.

Local 88 will hold a holiday party Dec. 18 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Oregon AFSCME’s Portland office.


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