Oregon governor Kate Brown nominates unionists to boards

Oregon Governor Kate Brown recently appointed several union leaders to state boards and commissions.

One of the most prominent is the TriMet board of commissioners. There, she tapped Keith Edwards, a former business manager of IBEW Local 48 and IBEW international rep from Northeast Portland. Edwards is now retired, but remains active in community affairs. Also new to the board are Osvaldo Gonzales and Kathy Wai. Gonzales replaces Joe Esmonde, a retired IBEW Local 48 business rep.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 represents about 2,400 TriMet employees. Local 757 spokesperson Andrew Riley said the union doesn’t know much about Gonzales, but is cautiously optimistic based on what they’ve heard from community partners. Riley said ATU was pleased with Wai’s appointment. She is an advocate at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) and has served on the North Clackamas School Board.

“Overall, we’re pleased to see the governor taking diversity on the TriMet Board so seriously. It’s been a good ol’ white boys’ club for a long time, and that has to change,” Riley said.

Terms are for four years and start May 25.

Brown appointed John Mohlis, retired executive secretary of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council, to the State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF) board of trustees. Mohlis, of Oregon City, replaces Kevin Jensen, retired business manager of Iron Workers Local 29.

Kevin Billman, director of Legislative & Community Action at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, Diana Winther, staff attorney for IBEW Local 48, and Ateusa Salemi, a labor relations representative for Oregon Nurses Association in Umatilla, were re-appointed to the Workers’ Compensation Management-Labor Advisory Committee. MLAC, as it is known, studies issues affecting the workers’ compensation system and reports its findings and recommendations to the Oregon Legislature.

In other appointments:

  • Walt Caudle, business manager of Insulators Local 36, was named to the Mechanical Board.
  • Randy Carmony, business manager of Elevator Constructors Local 23, was tapped for the Electrical and Elevator Board. He succeeds Roberty Pyne, a journeyman elevtor constructor.
  • Thomas Engstrom of the Boilermakers Union was appointed to the Board of Boiler Rules.
  • Karly Edwards of the Oregon Nurses Association was named to the Government Ethics Commission.

All nominees must be confirmed by the Oregon Senate. The Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to meet May 22. Most of the appointments are for four-year terms.

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