January 15, 2010 Volume 111 Number 2
Portland-area UFCW members dropped from Kaiser Permanente coverage
Nearly 2,000 Portland-area grocery workers and their families — 5,700 people in all — were dropped from the Kaiser Permanente health system Jan. 1. Their union, UFCW Local 555, blamed employer-side representatives on the multi-employer health trust for refusing to fund Kaiser as an option after rates went up 15 percent for 2009 and 19 percent for 2010.
Opponents prefer to glide past facts of tax increase measures 66 and 67
Oregonians decide Jan. 26 whether corporations and the rich should pay a little more in state taxes. Listening to business-funded television ads, you'd think the increases affected everyone. But union support for the increases makes this an even fight.
Umatilla demilitarization workers get $3.7 million back pay
About 300 unionized civilian workers at the U.S. Army’s Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility got checks totaling nearly $3.7 million to settle claims over missed breaks and non-payment for putting on and taking off protective gear. The settlement came thanks to the vigilance of stewards, and union persistence.
After 18 months, Portland Public School teachers still without contract
Bargaining has been under way 18 months for a new contract covering 3,200 teachers, counselors, and librarians at Portland Public Schools, Oregon’s largest school district. In negotiations that one union rep termed "dysfunctional," the two sides have so far failed to reach agreement on health care, wages, workload, and layoff language.
More Steelworkers laid off at Cascade Steel
Cascade Steel Rolling Mills laid off 17 employees Jan. 10 — members of Steelworkers Local 8378. That brings the number of laid off union members since December 2008 to 103. The plant makes re-bar and other products used in construction.
Merkley amendment to health reform bill levels construction playing field
The Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council is thanking Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley for an amendment to the Senate health care reform bill. The amendment requires construction contractors with over $250,000 in payroll or more than five workers to provide employee health insurance or pay a $750 penalty.
Daimler gets $40 million to develop fuel efficient trucks
Portland-headquartered Daimler Trucks North America was awarded a $40 million federal grant to develop fuel-efficient technologies for heavy-duty trucks. Daimler is currently in negotiations with four unions that represent roughly 600 employees at its Portland truck manufacturing plant. Daimler had planned to close the Swan Island facility in June, but since changed its mind.
Sheet Metal training center gets piece of $5 million ARRA grant
Sheet Metal Workers HVAC & Metals Institute will get $150,000 over two years to train workers in green jobs industries, part of a $5 million stimulus grant awarded to Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Sheet Metal Workers Local 16, Machinists District Lodge 24, and the Northwest Oregon Labor Council were spotlighted as “key partners” in the grant award, but only the Sheet Metal Workers will benefit financially.