A multi-vehicle crash on I-5 southbound in Salem, Oregon Sept. 24 claimed the life of AFSCME Local 3327 President Dr. Steven Fritz. Fritz was a psychiatrist at Oregon State Hospital (OHS), where AFSCME represents about 25 doctors who work for the Oregon Health Authority. He was the husband of Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.
Fritz, who turned 54 on Sept. 21, had been an Oregon AFSCME member since 2003. He was first elected president of Local 3327 in 2012, and was recently re-elected to a second two-year term. Fritz was an enthusiastic union member who took part in many AFSCME activities, including state Central Table bargaining sessions and political endorsement interviews in Salem.
Fritz’s 1993 Nissan Sentra, custom painted with zebra stripes, was a familiar sight at union meetings.
According to Oregon State Police reports, a pickup truck in the northbound lanes of I-5 hit the side of a semi-truck, careened across the median and hit Fritz’s car head-on. His friend and co-worker, Cary Fairchild, who frequently carpooled with him from Portland to the state hospital, was critically injured. Fairchild is a mental health technician at OSH and a member of Service Employees International Union Local 503.
The Sept. 24 Portland City Council meeting was cancelled by Mayor Charlie Hales, and Commissioner Nick Fish and Police Chief Mike Reese accompanied Amanda Fritz to Salem after receiving the news.
“We are saddened to hear about this tragedy,” said Oregon AFSCME Executive Director Ken Allen. “Dr. Fritz was a well respected member and an energetic local union president. Our deepest condolences go out to Commissioner Fritz, their children and the entire Fritz family.”
A vigil in Fritz’s memory was held Sept. 28 at Terry Schrunk Plaza, across the street from Portland City Hall.
In lieu of flowers, Fritz’s family has asked that remembrances be sent to one of four charities: Doctors Without Borders, Little Kids Rock, New Oregon Arts & Letters or The Salvation Army.