Union-community coalition asks City Council to break impasse over labor standards for Broadway Corridor

Centered on the 12-block former U.S. Postal Service mail processing plant in Northwest Portland, what’s known as the Broadway Corridor Project is Portland’s biggest central city redevelopment opportunity in three decades. But negotiations over how minority and working Portlanders will benefit from the redevelopment have broken down. On June 24, a coalition of environmental justice, community and labor organizations that has been bargaining with the city’s development agency Prosper Portland asked Portland City Council to intervene.

“We will not support the Broadway Corridor project until we are sure we are getting a just and ironclad agreement for our communities,” wrote Vivian Satterfield on behalf of the Healthy Communities Coalition.   

The goal of the talks is a legally-binding Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for the Broadway Corridor, and the Healthy Communities Coalition  has been negotiating with Prosper Portland and the master developer it chose for the project—Continuum Partners of Denver — for 10 months.

“While I had hoped to provide a more optimistic update after such a dedicated and intense period of negotiations, I am writing to convey HCC’s concern that we may be unable to reach a final agreement. We are angry and frustrated.”

At this juncture, the sticking points have to do with how to oversee and enforce the agreement, and about standards for construction workers. Continuum Partners does not agree that the construction workers on the project should have full family healthcare benefits, which is a standard benefit for union construction workers.

City Council responded, and an online meeting to see if the impasse can be broken is set for July 20. At the table will be Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Prosper Portland executive director Kimberly Branam, and representatives from Continuum Partners, along with Satterfield and Kelly Haines of the Metropolitan Alliance for Workforce Equity.

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