By COLIN STAUB
During an in-person union election at door maker Pacific Architectural Wood Products on Oct. 26, workers voted 21 to 17 to remain non-union.
Union supporters in September had asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold an election on joining Millworkers United, a new union affiliated with the Portland Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
Workers said the job pays too little, raises are unpredictable and equipment is outdated. There were scheduling concerns: The last week of October, workers arrived to find they were scheduled for a 50-hour work week with no notice.
Management ran a standard anti-union campaign, attaching scare-tactic literature to workers’ paychecks, and holding weekly meetings to share anti-union talking points. Managers told workers the company’s “special culture” would be damaged by an outside entity like a union. The company retained management-side law firm Bullard Law, which has an anti-union reputation (a group of nine state lawmakers early this year described Bullard Law as “one of the most notorious anti-labor law firms in the state” when behavioral health nonprofit Lines For Life retained the firm).
In a statement to the Labor Press, Millworkers United representative Alex Amen said the loss was a setback for the union.
“We are continuing to organize at Pacific Architectural Wood Products, and although we cannot petition for another election for a year, we still have other avenues of approach toward making our workplace safe,” Amen wrote. “A lot of work has gone into creating Millworkers United, and we are very proud of what we have accomplished so far. Moving forward we are focused on tactical efforts to reach out to more of our coworkers, having more conversations about safety and wages, and creating a long-term strategy to win recognition and to win at the negotiating table.”