By Don McIntosh
Vancouver steel fabricator Instafab, the target of a 23-month strike by ironworkers, is now paying the former head of the Oregon Republican Party for labor relations advice. The adviser is attorney Bob Tiernan, a former GOP legislator from Lake Oswego who now represents companies in labor disputes.
Tiernan is a familiar name to many union members. As a legislator, he worked to cut public employee retirement benefits in the 1990s, and he was chief petitioner on a 1994 ballot measure that would have diverted 6 percent of public employee salaries to the pension system. (It passed narrowly but was struck down in court.) He chaired the Oregon Republican Party from 2009 to 2011.
In 2011, he was hired by Dosha, a chain of Aveda-branded salons, after workers voted to unionize. Tiernan told workers the company would act as if the union wasn’t there, and 16 months later, the union was no more: Communications Workers of America Local 7901, unable to get a first union contract, walked away.
Federally-required disclosures also show that Tiernan was paid $65,000 for advising a successful 2011 effort to decertify United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 at Berkeley Bowl, a natural foods market in Berkeley, California. And UFCW Local 8 blames Tiernan for a 10-day strike in 2012 at Raley’s, a West Sacramento grocery chain.
Instafab is a nonunion steel fabrication and erection company. A handful of workers there walked out Feb. 27, 2015, and were later joined by others. Strikers learned of the Tiernan hire in a Dec. 23 text message from company owner Bruce Perkins in which he says the company won’t be attempting any further negotiations with the strikers:
“Your group has never shown any real interest in settling anything,” Perkins wrote. “What you seem to value is conflict, misinformation and negativity. We have come to realize that any harm you and your ‘backers’ can do to Instafab has, for the most part, already been done. We know we can withstand whatever you send our way. Our workforce is unified, and we intend to keep it that way. Our customers and suppliers have grown numb to your attacks and threats … We are looking forward to a busy, prosperous and profitable 2017, and we wish you the same. If you have any questions, feel free to email myself or my General Counsel, Bob Tiernan … with questions. Happy Holidays!”