By COLIN STAUB
Since the start of 2022, we’ve reported over 400 stories. For this final issue of 2022, we want to tie up loose ends and update readers about what’s happened since we last reported on some of those stories.
IN FEBRUARY …
We reported that Amazon was constructing its massive new warehouse in Woodburn using out-of-state contractors and almost entirely nonunion labor, prompting local building trade unions to organize picketing at the site. Since then, the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) has opened an investigation into Amazon’s construction subcontractor Building Zone Industries (BZI) for wage theft and child labor violations. And Amazon has paused development of a sorting center in Canby, for reasons the company hasn’t disclosed.
We reported that eight non-owner employees formed a union at Mirisata, a vegan Sri Lankan restaurant on Southeast Belmont in Portland that operates as a worker-owned co-op. Since then, the union energy seems to have fizzled: Several union supporters have moved on to other jobs, and a worker who recently answered the phone wasn’t aware of any contract negotiations currently underway.
We reported that a group of 118 hospital techs at Providence Medford was petitioning to join SEIU Local 49. But when ballots were counted in March, workers voted against unionizing by 51-35.
We reported that Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone banned fire fighters from washing their cars in their downtime while waiting for a call. Ten months later, that ban remains in place – but IAFF Local 43 is currently bargaining with the Fire Bureau, and the car washing issue may come up during negotiations.
IN MARCH …
We reported that flower and bulb harvest workers in Washington struck for three days until management agreed to come to the bargaining table. After two days of negotiations between a committee of workers and management, they reached an agreement providing access to gloves and other safety equipment. It’s not a binding union contract, however, as farmworkers are excluded from the National Labor Relations Act.
We reported that a strike by 1,100 Alabama miners at Warrior Met Coal had passed the 1-year mark. Since then, they’ve passed the 600-day mark, and there’s no end in sight – workers continue to hold regular rallies, and the company continues to deny them the wages and benefits they were promised.
We reported that unions were backing a campaign to remove Clackamas County Commissioner Mark Shull from office due to his history of disparaging remarks about Muslims and immigrants, and more. In July, the campaign announced it was shifting course, citing the expense and potential emboldening effect of a recall failure, and would instead focus on supporting candidates to defeat Shull in the 2024 election.
IN APRIL …
We reported that a unit of about 430 tree trimmers in IBEW Local 125 rejected a tentative agreement by an overwhelmingly margin. They rejected a second tentative agreement in May, and Local 125 went into federal mediation with the employer group, a consortium of contractors. Workers were gearing up for a strike, but on Sept. 1 workers voted by 70% to approve a third tentative agreement that provides a 22.5% wage increase over four years for the journeyman classification, with retroactive pay to January 1.
We reported that a fire destroyed a minibus and damaged offices of nonprofit Voz Workers Rights Education Project. An outpouring of community support helped Voz raise more than $14,000 to recover from the setback.
IN JUNE …
We reported that mechanics and lube technicians at Portland’s Jim Fisher Volvo voted 7 to 3 to be represented by the Machinists District Lodge W24. As of December the two sides are meeting regularly and appear to be making steady progress toward agreement on a first contract.
We reported Portland homeless services provider All Good Northwest fired a worker in retaliation for speaking to the Labor Press, immediately after workers voted to unionize with Oregon AFSCME. The National Labor Relations Board is still investigating the termination. Workers have elected a bargaining team that is scheduling first-contract negotiations with management for early 2023. Both sides are currently meeting to discuss immediate issues, like lack of adequate heat in the properties All Good Northwest manages.
IN AUGUST …
We reported that restaurant workers at the French bistro Alouette PDX launched a union drive and went on strike to protest under-staffing and a lack of management support. The restaurant closed for several weeks for repairs, workers announced they were ending the strike and the National Labor Relations Board has not received any request for a union election.
We reported that a unit of 70 nurses in Lincoln City was organizing with Oregon Nurses Association (ONA). But a month later, ONA withdrew its request for a union election and the campaign hasn’t been revived.
We reported that workers at 360 Sheet Metal in Vancouver were on strike to protest violations of labor and worker safety laws by their employer. The strike has ended, but the struggle is in no way over: Local 16 is determined to use every available tool to support the workers and put pressure on 360 Sheet Metal to treat workers fairly.
IN NOVEMBER …
We reported that a union-backed campaign turned in signatures to hold a recall election for two Bay Area Health District board members. The Coos County Clerk’s Office said petitioners failed to collect enough valid signatures for the recalls to move forward, but recall supporters say numerous signatures were invalidated by the clerk’s office without following state law that requires observers be able to view the validation process. The recall campaign is evaluating its legal options.
We reported that restaurant workers at Afuri Ramen + Dumpling in downtown Portland filed for a union election, forming the new “Restaurant Workers of Portland” union. They’ll vote in an in-person election on Jan. 13.