February 15, 2008 Volume 109 Number 4

OSEA joins American Federation of Teachers
Oregon School Employees Association members voted to become part of AFT, adding 20,000 more union-represented workers to the Oregon AFL-CIO.

[Left, OSEA President Merlene Martin hears the news that members voted to affiliate with AFT.]

Portland Public Schools backs off hardline stance
Portland Public Schools appears ready to bury the hatchet after a long-running standoff with three of its unions. On Feb. 5, PPS announced a tentative agreement on a new contract covering 85 special ed school bus drivers. Hours later, the district announced a tentative deal with 500 custodians and cafeteria workers. And three bargaining sessions are scheduled for the second half of February with the union that represents 1,400 clerical and support staff.
Labor has short agenda for legislative session in Salem
No workers’ rights legislation is up for discussion in the special session of the Oregon Legislature that began Feb. 4. But that doesn't mean unions are going to sit out the month-long experiment with annual sessions. A handful of issues to be voted on would impact union members and working people.
AFL-CIO backs mortgage reforms
Following the lead of the national AFL-CIO, Oregon’s state labor federation is joining consumer groups in pushing for state-level mortgage reforms to put a stop to lending practices that have put many homebuyers at risk.
Labor ally Hooley to leave Congress
Oregon Democratic Congresswoman Darlene Hooley announced Feb. 8 that she’ll retire at the end of the year, meaning her seat is up for grabs in the November 2008 election. For organized labor, it means a scramble to replace a reliable union ally, and keep the seat in worker-friendly hands.
Underpaid professors plan to picket PSU
Anyone who thinks being a college professor is a cushy middle-class meal ticket probably hasn’t gotten up close to Oregon’s higher ed system lately. At Portland State University, a quarter of the classes are taught by part-timers working on term-to-term contracts. Hundreds of PSU adjunct professors have PhDs in their fields and yet gross less than $15,000 a year, with no benefits of any kind.
LERC to celebrate 30th anniversary March 7
Over the last three decades, the University of Oregon's Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) has opened the university’s door to rank-and-file workers, union officials and community leaders, providing them access to the resources and expertise of the higher education system. LERC will celebrate its 30th anniversary Friday, March 7, with a dinner at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
Labor battling in Washington Legislature — sometimes with Democrats
Washington labor leaders are doing battle in the State Legislature in Olympia. Sometimes it's with Democrats. That's because when it comes to health care, the most common sense reforms often run aground if monied stakeholders are opposed to it.
Law tilts against unions, but labor can’t give up fight
In a day’s worth of legal workshops, union reps and elected leaders learned that workers have muscular laws to defend them if they are cheated of breaks or overtime pay or discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, religion, disability. But if they get fired for trying to unionize their workplace … good luck to them.

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