LINCOLN CITY — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was endorsed by the Oregon State Building Trades Council in her bid for re-election in 2018. The endorsement took place at the Council’s annual convention Aug. 23-26. The 60 delegates in attendance also endorsed Val Hoyle for labor commissioner, they heard reports from representatives of the Port of Portland, Jordan Cove, NuScale Power, and Vancouver Energy about upcoming projects worth multiple billions of dollars, and they passed 11 policy-setting resolutions.
In his first report since being elected executive secretary a year ago, Tim Frew, a member of IBEW Local 280 in Tangent, said in the next year he wants to focus more attention on councils outside the Portland metropolitan area.
“Willy (Myers) does a great job with the Columbia Pacific (Building Trades Council),” Frew said. “I’ll be where I need to be to represent you guys, but what I would like to do — I want to try to focus more on the outer regional councils. I want to beef up our presence in the regional councils in Pendleton, Southern Oregon, Lane-Coos-Curry Douglas, and Central Oregon.”
Gov. Brown thanked the building trades for helping pass the transportation package in the 2017 legislative session. She said the $5.3 billion, 10-year investment in roads, rail, bridges, and ports is the largest and most comprehensive transportation package Oregon has ever seen — and will create 16,000 construction jobs in all corners of the state.
“And it wouldn’t have happened without you,” she said.
Brown gave a shout-out to the many state-of-the-art building trades training programs, and praised the Oregon Legislature for investing $170 million in the next biennium to fund high school career and technical education (CTE) programs.
“We’re trying to learn from your good work to create apprenticeship programs in other industries like health care and IT (information technology),” she said.
A day earlier, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian also lauded the CTE investment, predicting that by August 2018 there could be nearly 400 shop classes in high schools throughout the state.
In her first public appearance as a candidate for labor commissioner, Hoyle said she picked the Oregon building trades for a reason: “I know that I can win with the building trades by my side,” she said.
[Avakian’s term as labor commissioner expires in 2018, and he is not running for re-election.]
Hoyle served seven years in the Oregon House, starting in August 2009, when she was appointed to fill a vacant seat in District 14. The Eugene Democrat stepped down as House majority leader to run for secretary of state in 2016. She lost in the primary to Avakian, and then Avakian lost in the general election to Republican Dennis Richardson. [The secretary of state position opened in 2015 after Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned and was replaced by then-Secretary of State Kate Brown. Last November, Brown was elected to serve the remainder of Kitzhaber’s term, which expires at the end of 2018.]
Secretary of State Richardson told OSBCTC delegates that a small business advocate in the Corporations Division is available to help clear roadblocks businesses may be having with permitting and other issues.
“We are working so hard to try to make sure that Oregon is a more business-friendly state,” Richardson said.
The Central Point Republican said he supports the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas plant in Coos Bay, and that he will use his position on the State Land Board to look for projects to help grow the state’s economy.
“If there are projects that involve state lands that make sense for us to be more flexible, I’m going to work to do that,” he said. “We need to balance conservation as well as economic growth and benefit.”
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), was the luncheon speaker on Aug. 24.
“Let me tell you about some of the work we’ve done in the last eight months — that you probably have never heard about,” he said.
Walden said the House has passed bills modernizing and streamlining citing and licensing requirements for new hydro projects and oil and gas pipelines.
He said a bill is advancing in the House authorizing $8 billion over five years to repair the nation’s aging drinking water infrastructure, with requirements that American made iron and steel are to be used in projects that are funded by taxpayers.
All these projects will fall under prevailing wage laws, he said.
Walden, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also is working on legislation that will treat hydro as a renewable energy — the same as solar and wind.
During a question and answer session, Walden said he doesn’t see right-to-work legislation on the horizon. “I don’t see that coming, no … I don’t know, you can never predict anything in Washington. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that lately. Wow. They wouldn’t have the votes in the House to go do that.”
He predicted Republican leadership will have tax reform done by the end of the year.
On health care reform, Walden noted that the American Health Care Act, which passed the House 217-214, but failed in the Senate, pushed back the labor-opposed “Cadillac tax” from 2020 to 2026.
“I’d like to get rid of it,” he said. “ I’ve opposed it from Day 1. I don’t think it’s fair that you get taxed because you negotiated better health insurance. I think that’s wrong.”
OSBCTC gave $1,000 scholarships to Stephen Kowats Jr., of Portland, and Leland Forrette of Vancouver, Washington. Kowats is the son of Stephen Kowats Sr., a member of Sheet Metal Workers Local 16 who lives in Hood River. Forrette is the son of Joe Forrette, also a member of Local 16. Leland is a graduate of Union High School and will attend Western Washington University. Kowats attends Portland State University majoring in Art Practices. Funding for the scholarships is provided by Ferguson Wellman Capital Management and Quest Investment Management.
Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council passed the following resolutions at their convention:
- Support a Project Labor Agreement for the UO Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact OSBCTC calls on Gov. Kate Brown and Treasurer Tobias Read to withhold disbursement of $50 million approved by the Oregon Legislature to support construction of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact at the University of Oregon, until a PLA has been signed. OSBCTC received verbal agreements from legislative leaders and university officials that the project, which will support 1,300 construction jobs, will pay prevailing wages. A PLA has been drafted and is currently under review. The project consists of two 75,000-square-foot buildings equipped with state-of-the-art scientific instruments that will be shared by researchers and local Oregon companies, and will directly support more than 750 jobs.
- Support the Jordan Cove LNG Export Terminal and the Pacific Connector Natural Gas Pipeline OSBCTC calls upon Governor Brown, members of the Oregon Legislature, and members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation to fully support the permitting and construction of the Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal at North Bend, Coos County, Oregon, and the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline, to improve the economy of the Pacific Northwest.
- Support Advanced Nuclear Power OSBCTC calls on the Oregon Legislature to revise its policy toward nuclear power to allow for the development of advanced nuclear power reactors, such as small modular reactors, within its borders. OSBCTC supports legislation, research, and commercial activities that would position Oregon as a leader in advanced nuclear technology, and affirms the importance of nuclear energy in electricity generation, as well as medicine, space exploration, and national defense.
- Support a Carbon Tax that Boosts Jobs and the Economy If a carbon tax is adopted, OSBCTC calls on the Oregon Legislature to craft the tax in such a way as to ensure positive effects on Oregon workers and the economy; and the rate of the tax should be balanced so it meets greenhouse gas reduction targets without negatively impacting jobs or the economy; the carbon pricing system should be designed in a way that incentivizes energy retrofits; and revenue from the carbon tax should be dedicated to infrastructure, technology, and services that support low-carbon economic development and jobs.
- Support the Vancouver Energy Terminal OSBCTC affirms its strong support for the $210 million Vancouver Energy Terminal at the Port of Vancouver, and calls on all affiliated locals and members to participate in all public review processes to push for a reliable permitting timeline, and to advocate for high environmental standards.
- Support the Provider Tax and Oppose Ballot Measure to Repeal it OSBCTC supports the health care provider tax passed by the Oregon Legislature in a bipartisan vote. The tax, assessed on hospitals and insurance companies, protects coverage for more than 1 million Oregonians on the Oregon Health Plan. A group of anti-tax Republicans is attempting to refer the new tax to the ballot. If they collect enough signatures it will go before voters in a January special election. OSBCTC urges members not to sign the initiative petition.
- Oppose Douglas County Home Rule Charter, Ballot Measure 10-159 OSBCTC urges residents of Douglas County to vote against Measure 10-159, which will appear on the November 2017 ballot. A small group of activists in the county is trying to dismantle the County Commission and limit the state’s ability to impose restrictions on the County’s governance. OSBCTC says proponents are known opponents to the Jordan Cove Project, and have extreme environmentalist views in which they oppose development and construction projects supported by the OSBCTC.
- Support Oregonians To Maintain Community Standards The OSBCTC will levy for one year, starting the date this resolution is adopted, an assessment of $1 per member, per month, for the purpose of supporting the efforts and work of OMCS, OSBCTC’s political action committee. The Executive Board will review any further increases or decreases in six months, and have the authority to adjust according to need.
- Establish a Committee on Charitable and Political Giving The Executive Secretary will appoint at least five members who will meet at least twice a year to coordinate charitable and political contributions among member unions. The purpose is to help coordinate fragmented and duplicative donations, and help increase the net impact of construction union donations.
- Conduct Regular Audits OSBCTC shall conduct a financial audit once every five years, and within the first six months of tenure of a new Executive Secretary.
- Defend Collective Bargaining Agreements OSBCTC and all of its affiliates will put aside internal disputes and reconfirm their commitment to stand in solidarity, and also to coordinate with unions outside of the construction crafts to focus its collective strength in defense of workers’ rights and protections.