American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is considering Portland for a national health plan conference, so the union’s national president asked Portland-based APWU Local 128 legislative director Daniel Cortez to do some advance ground work. Cortez was to research options for delegates to socialize — like a cocktail mixer or river cruise — something to showcase Portland after a day of meetings. Cortez thought: What about a Willamette River dinner cruise aboard the Portland Spirit? As Cortez reported to delegates at the April 24 meeting of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, a trip to the company’s web site made him drop that idea.
On the site, company president Dan Yates bemoans all the burdens he suffers from recent acts of government: a significant minimum wage increase, paid sick leave, a “ban the box” policy barring employers from asking about felony convictions on the initial employment application. And now, horror of horrors, the state of Oregon may institute “Two Week Schedules” for all employees, Yates writes, “with potential penalties for employers that reduce or add hours to an employee’s schedule.” What is a low-wage employer of 250 mostly part-time employees to do? For Yates, the answer is: Charge extra fees — and let the public know why.
Oregon unions fought for all the policies Yates complained about — to help some of the poorest workers in the state. So APWU won’t be patronizing the Portland Spirit, Cortez decided. Yates, a member of the Portland Business Alliance, may have complained himself out of several hundred customers.