By DON McINTOSH, Associate Editor
David Neel’s 20-month fight for reinstatement ended with a crash.
Neel, 37, is a telephone fundraiser who believes passionately in the union movement. He helped win a 2012 campaign by workers at the Portland call center of PIRG-affiliated Fund for the Public Interest to join Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7901, and then became an active volunteer on the union contract bargaining team. Then on Nov. 6, 2012, he was fired on a string of trumped-up accusations.
I wanted them to be forced to do the right thing.” — fired telephone fundraiser David Neel
“I wanted them to be forced to do the right thing,” Neel said. “I wanted to go back.”
But in early morning July 5, Neel and his fiancee Stephanie Castillo were heading home on his 1982 Yamaha motorcycle after a night out watching fireworks. As they stopped for traffic on Southeast Milwaukie Boulevard and Ochoco, a Ford Explorer SUV plowed into them. Neel and Castillo survived the crash, but suffered significant injuries. Castillo stayed in the hospital 10 days with a shattered pelvis, a broken ankle, and two fractured vertebrae. Neel was in the hospital three days with a concussion, four fractured vertebrae, and head lacerations. On release, she’s in a wheelchair, and he’s walking with a cane, and they have months of recovery ahead of them. Pondering medical bills and lost wages, and with two teenage sons to support, Neel decided to accept the settlement.
The terms of the settlement, approved in mid-August by the NLRB and CWA Local 7901, are that the Fund pay Neel $19,088 of backpay and interest, plus $7,000 for waiving his right to reinstatement.
“David would be coming back to work if it weren’t for that horrific accident,” said CWA Local 7901 President Madelyn Elder. “The NLRB found the Fund in the wrong. They wrongfully fired him, and they need to stop discriminating against union people.”