Organized labor and several business associations have come together in solidarity to help raise money to support Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU) plan to make its Knight Cancer Institute one of the top cancer research centers in the country.
Last September, Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, pledged $500 million for cancer research if OHSU raised an equal amount by February 2016.
To date, the Knight Cancer Challenge has raised $431,481,272, which includes $200 million in bonds approved by the Oregon Legislature to construct research facilities. That’s just under $70 million shy of the goal.
At a press conference Sept. 23 at OHSU’s Collaborative Life Sciences Building, seven labor and business groups announced formation of the “United for the Knight” coalition. Leaders have pledged to reach out to their memberships to encourage them to donate to the fundraising drive.
“Business and labor have their differences from time to time, but on this issue we thought it was important to come together collectively to make sure this match is met as it comes down the home stretch,” said John Mohlis, executive secretary of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council, and co-chair of the coalition. The other co-chair is Brian Gard, president of Gard Communications and past chair of Oregon Business Association.
Also joining the coalition are the Oregon AFL-CIO, AFSCME Council 75, Associated Oregon Industries, the Portland Business Alliance, and Oregon Business Council.
Ken Allen, executive director of Oregon AFSCME, serves on the OHSU Board of Directors and was instrumental in creating the Unite for the Knight coalition.
“In the fight against cancer, we’re all on the same side,” OHSU President Joe Robertson said. “With this group’s support, we will continue moving closer to our goal of ending cancer as we know it.”
Over the next year, labor and business organizations will encourage broad participation among their members and the larger community in a friendly competition of who can turn out the most people. A dollar amount wasn’t set, but their motto basically is that 1,000 contributions at $100 each are just as valuable as 100 contributions of $1,000.
Mohlis said in addition to rank and file members, the Building Trades Council also will reach out to its signatory contractor associations, trust fund professionals, and third party administrators.
“This is the right thing to do for the Cancer Challenge,” Mohlis said. “We feel this will open the door for future opportunities for business and labor to collaborate on other issues.
To donate, go to the campaign website, unitefortheknight.org.