At a Dec. 18 meeting of its Executive Board and political committee, the Oregon AFL-CIO made three political endorsements: Brad Avakian for re-election as Oregon labor commissioner, Oregon Nurses Association staff representative Rob Nosse for state representative in House District 42, and a “yes” vote on a “driver’s card” referendum that will appear on the November 2014 ballot. The state labor federation endorsed U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley’s re-election at its biennial convention last September.
Republican state Reps. Kim Thatcher and Sal Esquivel oppose a law passed in the 2013 legislative session that requires Oregon to issue resident driver’s cards without requiring that applicants prove legal presence in the United States. So they led a signature gathering effort to refer the law to voters. The driver’s card, which requires passing a drivers test to obtain, allows holders to drive legally in Oregon for three years. Unlike the driver’s license, which is good for five years, the driver’s card is not accepted by federal or state governments as a form of identification when applying for services that require citizenship or legal residency.
Oregon Legislative and Communications Director Elana Guiney said it’s not just foreign-born residents who have trouble getting a regular driver’s license: some senior citizens, and homeless and indigent individuals who don’t have an address or place to store records, also have had difficulty.
A “yes” vote on the referendum is a vote to uphold the law as passed by the Legislature.
In other business, the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board authorized the establishment of a yet-to-be-named non-profit, a type of organization known under the federal tax code as a 501(c)3. Other state labor federations have set up such groups, which conduct policy research, public education and issue advocacy, but aren’t allowed to get involved in politics. Those roles could supplement the Oregon AFL-CIO’s other work, and unlike labor organizations, 501(c)3s are allowed to accept foundation grants and tax-deductible contributions. The group would have a board that is independent from the Oregon AFL-CIO.
The Oregon AFL-CIO E-Board swore in two new members: Jim Falvey and Lisa Gourley.
Falvey, president of Portland-based National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82, replaced Kevin Card after Card took a job with the national union in Washington, D.C. Gourley, a board member of Oregon School Employees Association and president of the Linn-Benton-Lincoln Central Labor Council, replaces Stacey Chamberlain of AFSCME Council 75.
The Board also dealt with leftover business from the September convention. With amendments, the Board passed Resolution 12, which puts the state labor federation on record supporting a requirement that political campaigns disclose their donors. And the Board voted to table Resolution 13, which called on the Oregon AFL-CIO to organize a large public rally in defense of Social Security and Medicare. Instead, the state labor federation will coordinate with the national AFL-CIO, which is planning a campaign on the issue later this year.