OR AFL’s Elana Guiney leaves for governor’s office

Oregon AFL-CIO communications and legislative director Elana Guiney watches as Oregon governor John Kitzhaber signs a bill at the 2013 state labor convention.
At the 2013 Oregon AFL-CIO convention, communications and legislative director Elana Guiney watches as Oregon governor John Kitzhaber signs a bill into law.

Elana Pirtle-Guiney is leaving her position as Oregon AFL-CIO legislative and communications director for a job as labor and workforce policy advisor to Oregon governor John Kitzhaber. She’ll replace Duke Shepard as the governor’s labor liaison.

Pirtle-Guiney joined the Oregon AFL-CIO staff shortly after graduating Lewis & Clark College in 2006, and since then has directed organizing, political work, legislative work, and communications. Her last day at the labor federation will be Jan. 6.

She’ll be succeeded as communication director by Russell Sanders, and as legislative director by Graham Trainor.

Sanders is a graphic and web designer. He grew up in Portland in a union-proud household, graduated from Southern Oregon University in 2007, and joined the Oregon AFL-CIO staff in 2010.

Russell Sanders
Russell Sanders

Trainor has been with the Oregon AFL-CIO since 2008, first as field director, and then political director. Prior to that he was Oregon state director of Working America, and in 2008 he managed the campaign against an anti-public-worker-union ballot measure 64 for Defend Oregon.

Pirtle-Guiney also serves as a labor representative on the Workers’ Compensation Management-Labor Advisory Committee, but will have to resign that position when she goes to work for the governor.

Organized labor has had a sometimes bumpy relationship with Kitzhaber, but Pirtle-Guiney’s hire continues a history of close connections between the state labor federation and the governor’s mansion.

Tom Chamberlain was organizing director under then Oregon AFL-CIO president Tim Nesbitt, then labor liaison for then governor Ted Kulongoski in 2004, and then succeeded Nesbitt as Oregon AFL-CIO president in 2005. Nesbitt himself ended up going to work as Kulongoski’s deputy chief of staff in 2007.

Shepard, who once worked as field coordinator for Kitzhaber’s 1994 campaign for governor, went to work for Chamberlain as Oregon AFL-CIO political director in 2006, and then was hired as Kitzhaber’s labor liaison in 2011. He’s leaving the governor’s office to work as deputy director of the Center for Evidence-Based Policy at Oregon Health and Science University.

“I’m glad this is Kitzhaber’s last term, because he keeps stealing my people,” Chamberlain joked.

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