Portland city office workers file for union election

By COLIN STAUB

Union supporters are preparing for an election covering 762 office workers for the City of Portland. They make up the last big group of City employees who don’t already have a union.

Volunteer organizers with the City of Portland Professional Workers Union are seeking to represent analysts, coordinators, project managers, and legal assistants working in various City bureaus. Those employees work alongside peers who are represented by AFSCME Local 189 and PROTEC17. CPPW is a new labor organization unaffiliated with any existing union. 

In recent years, public sector union campaigns in Oregon tend to use the state’s “card check” law, which requires public employers to recognize union representation once more than 50% of a unit signs cards supporting the union. But the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB), which oversees public sector labor relations, can also schedule an election if 30% of workers sign cards. That’s the route CPPW is going, according to a Feb. 1 petition filed with ERB.

The independent union has declined interview requests from the Labor Press. In public statements on its website, the organization lists guaranteed raises, schedule flexibility, job security, a shorter standard work week, and fully remote work as top priorities for a union contract.

The union is represented by Portland labor lawyer Katelyn Oldham, and the City is represented by Cathy Bless, chief human resources officer for the City’s Office of Management and Finance.

At press time, ERB had not yet set election dates. 

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