By DON McINTOSH
Former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek continues to accumulate union endorsements in her race for Oregon governor. Kotek faces Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read and former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in the May Democratic primary.
The latest union to endorse Kotek is the Northwest Carpenters, which represents approximately 9,000 workers in Oregon, the campaign announced Feb. 7. That follows an endorsement announcement from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Locals 503 and 49, totaling 87,000 workers in health care, home care, janitorial, and the public sector. The two locals announced their support of Kotek Jan. 26, after Local 503’s elected political action committee evaluated candidate questionnaires and a interview by members, in partnership with Local 49.
All told, 13 labor organizations are backing Kotek. The others are: Oregon State Building Trades Council; IBEW Local 48 and Local 280; Iron Workers Pacific NW District Council; Oregon & Southern Idaho District Council of Laborers; Oregon Nurses Association; Operating Engineers Local 701 United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 290; Painters District Council 5; and Sheet Metal Workers Local 16.
Kristof is the only other candidate with a union endorsement so far, backed by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555. On Feb. 8, his campaign announced that it had voluntarily recognized a union for its three staff members; they’ll be members of Painters Local 116. It’s not clear Kristof will be on the ballot. Oregon’s Constitution requires candidates for governor to have been Oregon residents for three years, but Kristof voted in New York in 2020, and the Oregon Secretary of State’s office has declared him ineligible, a ruling that’s under appeal. [UPDATE: The Oregon Supreme Court ruled Feb. 17 that Kristof is NOT eligible.]
The Oregon AFL-CIO, the federation that most of the state’s unions belong to, will consider the endorsement question at the March 3 meeting of its Committee on Political Education (COPE).