2019 Oregon Building Trades Convention

The Resolution Committee reads through a handful of resolutions submitted to the convention. From left are Randy Carmony of Elevator Constructors Local 23; Ron Lee of Operating Engineers Local 701, Geoff Kossak of Cement Masons Local 555, Charlie Johnson of Sheet Metal Workers Local 16 (chair), Ron Mathis of Insulators Local 36, and Garth Bachman of IBEW Local 48.

HOOD RIVER, Oregon—The Oregon State Building & Construction Trades Council held its 58th annual convention Sept. 11-13.

Gathering at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, 175 delegates and guests heard from national building trades officials, and state and local elected leaders. Here are some highlights:

WORK OUTLOOK

One of the invited guests was Intel project manager Rock Hardgrove, who reported that a planned 2.5-million-square-foot facility expansion at Intel’s Ronler Acres campus in Hillsboro will require 7 million worker-hours.

NATIONAL POLITICS

A NEW CHILDCARE PROGRAM Labor Littles teams up with unionized childcare providers in the greater Portland and SW Washington areas to provide union construction workers childcare that’s open during the hours they work. It’s being set up by Eryn Byram, executive director of Labor’s Community Service Agency (left), and Christina Daniels, a member of IBEW Local 48. Pictured with them is Oregon Building Trades Executive Secretary Robert Camarillo.

Kevin Adkisson, field service director for North America’s Building Trades Unions, reported on the nationwide campaign against an effort by Trump’s Department of Labor (DOL) to water down apprenticeship requirements. The DOL has so far received 325,000 comments from union construction workers, contractors, and family members opposed to the industry-backed Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs).

“I think it’s gotten their attention, but I don’t know if it’s going to be enough to save [construction unions’ registered apprenticeship programs],” Adkisson reported.

The Trump DOL isn’t a friend of labor, Adkisson said.

“Their main objective is to knee-cap all the unions. That’s their objective. The only thing that they’re waiting on is for President Trump to be re-elected.”

Adkisson said union leaders are going to have to do a better job informing members that Trump’s DOL wants to crumble their union. In a recent poll, 55% of union construction workers support Trump, Adkisson said.

“Come next November, if President Trump is still the president, you better batten down the hatches, people … It’s going to get ugly, and it’s going to get ugly quick. Because these guys ain’t going to waste no time. They’ve got four years left to do it. And they’re going after it.”

STATE POLICY COULD FAVOR HIGH-ROAD CONTRACTORS

State Treasurer Tobias Read told delegates that his agency —which is responsible for investing the $80 billion PERS fund— is working to strengthen its responsible contractor policy.

“We want to ensure that people that we invest with are treating their employees and the people that they work with the right way,” Read said. “That they get fair wages and benefits and everyone gets education and training,” he said.

STRUCTURAL CHANGES

Delegates voted to change officers’ terms from three to four years, and to hold conventions biennially rather than annually. The next convention and election will be in 2021. Delegates also voted to continue a monthly assessment to fund the Council’s political action committee.

GOOD WORKS

The Aurora Composite Squadron Color Guard, which opened the convention, was a beneficiary of the convention’s raffle.

A raffle at the convention raised $3,000 to be divided between two union families experiencing hardships, and for the Aurora Composite Squadron Color Guard, which opened the 58th annual convention.

The Council also awarded $1,000 scholarships to Maria Luna Vargas (daughter of Israel Luna Marquez of Iron Workers Local 29), and Anna Alexander (daughter of Blake Alexander, Plumbers and Fitters Local 290). Scholarships are funded by Zenith American Solutions and Quest Investment.

Eryn Byram and Christina Daniels announced out a new program called Labor Littles. The non-profit is teaming up with unionized childcare providers in the greater Portland and SW Washington areas to provide union construction workers childcare that is open during the hours they work. Labor Littles will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provide transportation to and from school.

“Labor Littles was created to cater to their unique needs,” said Daniels, a member of IBEW Local 48.

Daniels and Byram, executive director of Labor’s Community Service Agency, are looking to partner with unions, apprenticeship coordinators, and contractors for financial and in-kind contributions to continue building the program.

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