Office workers at City of Portland launch new union


A new labor organization is trying to unionize the last large group of City of Portland workers who don’t have union representation: an estimated 870 office workers that would include analysts, coordinators, project managers, and legal assistants. City of Portland Professional Workers Union (CPPW) would represent those workers in a new bargaining unit, and supporters of the effort are busy gathering the signatures they’ll need in order to petition the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB) to hold an election.

According to their website, City of Portland workers in those occupational classifications have tried twice to join existing unions representing City workers, like AFSCME Local 189, but without success. For the new campaign, they opted to form an independent union.

The site lists reasons workers want a union, including guaranteed raises, schedule flexibility, job security, a shorter standard work week, and fully remote work. 

CPPW said it will request the election once they sign up 30% of the unit rather than 50%. That’s not enough to trigger automatic recognition under Oregon’s public employee card check law, but it would be enough for ERB to hold a union election. They reached that 30% target by Jan. 17 and expect to file by early February.

Though it’s an independent union, CPPW has support from existing City worker unions: Its fundraising page shows AFSCME Local 189 and the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) Solidarity Fund have both contributed $1,000 to the new union effort. PROTEC17, which represents engineers and other professional employees at the City, also contributed $1,000.

In a series of fliers published on CPPW’s website, both non-represented and already-unionized workers shared messages supporting the CPWW campaign. Some workers have held both union- and non-union City jobs, and shared that perspective.

“I was represented in my first role at the city. Then, as non-rep I’ve been frustrated by cuts and caps in COLAs and merit increases that my represented coworkers have had the power to largely avoid,” one worker wrote. 


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