At its Jan. 15 meeting, members of AFSCME Local 88 voted to endorse Jules Bailey for Multnomah County Commission. Local 88 represents 2,600 employees of Multnomah County. Bailey and fellow candidate Brian Wilson are vying for the commission seat vacated by Deb Kafoury, who’s running for County Chair.
Local 88’s Political Action Committee interviewed Bailey and Wilson, and held a forum for members to hear from the two. In the members-only discussion that followed, members praised both candidates, but Bailey was the unanimous pick in the vote to endorse.
Bailey is a three-term state representative with a stellar pro-labor voting record. In the 2013 legislative session, Oregon AFSCME awarded him a 110 percent rating: Not only did he vote in accord with the union 100 percent of the time, but he worked behind the scenes to advance legislation.
Bailey was one of only a handful of legislators to publicly criticize Governor John Kitzhaber’s “grand bargain” legislation in a September 2013 special session, and he voted against the legislation, which cut public employee pensions (PERS) and gave big tax breaks to small businesses. Ironically, the Oregonian editorial board singled out Bailey for that defiance, writing that “County voters should remember his position on PERS reform.” Bailey said he’d be only too glad if they did: Cutting pension benefits of retired workers is wrong.
For Bailey, PERS is personal, too: His father, a lifelong AFSCME member, collects a public employee pension after a career at the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. Bailey also credits his dad’s union-negotiated health benefits for the affordable medical treatment he received when at age 15 he fractured his spine in three places.
As a legislator, he also helped pass “green jobs” legislation, including the law that created Clean Energy Works Oregon and set wage, benefit, and apprenticeship standards for workers on publicly subsidized residential weatherization projects.
Bailey came to labor’s aid outside the Capitol too: walking strike picket lines with members of AFSCME at the Metropolitan Education Service District, officiating in a card check unionization effort, and writing a letter to Xerox calling on them to settle a contract.
The other contender for county commission, Brian Wilson, is a commercial real estate developer and investor. At the Local 88 forum, he said all the right things on the labor litmus issues: Prevailing wage, he said, is the right thing to do, while as for “unionbusting” initiative petition 9, “it’s bullshit.” Wilson also earned kudos from Local 88 members for his volunteer service on countless task forces and commissions, including his work alongside the union to pass a special library funding district.
But between the two it was hard not to see Bailey as the union pick.
Bailey said he would commit to raising money to oppose IP 9, which he said is part of a national effort to attack unions.
“We don’t just want to defeat it,” Bailey told Local 88 members. “We want it to go down in flames.”
Besides Local 88, Bailey is endorsed by Communication Workers of America 7901, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555, and IBEW Local 48.
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