February 20, 2009 Volume 110 Number 4

Another day at the office
Mike McCoy of Iron Workers Local 29 welds on the 16th floor of the First and Main Building, which general contractor Hoffman Construction is constructing in downtown Portland. The union “raising gang” topped out the environmentally friendly, 346,500 square-foot office building on Feb. 16. Weather has played a factor on the project as snow storms in late December and high winds in January forced workers off the job for more than a month and a half.

Congress passes stimulus package
To respond to the biggest economic crisis in at least a generation, Congress in mid-February passed its biggest stimulus package ever. The act’s $787 billion in new federal spending and tax cuts will cushion the plight of the jobless and put some people back to work. Will it bring about recovery? Time will tell.

Elections Division opens investigation on Sizemore
It appears Oregon’s newly-installed Secretary of State Kate Brown will use the power of her office to make sure election laws are complied with — even by longtime scofflaw and union foe Bill Sizemore. On Feb. 12, the Oregon Elections Division opened an investigation to determine whether Sizemore violated campaign finance laws last year in waging several ballot initiative campaigns.
SEIU offers wage freeze to ease state budget crisis
Reacting to the State of Oregon’s budget crisis, the largest union of state employees went public Feb. 12 with a proposal for a two-year freeze of pay steps and eight unpaid furlough days.

Teamsters at Oak Harbor Freight offer to return to work
The Teamsters Union is calling off its strike at Oak Harbor Freight Lines, and announced Feb. 12 an offer to return to work. About 600 Teamsters from the Portland and Seattle area have been on strike since Sept. 22.

Business-labor group to hold lobby day in Salem for liquefied natural gas
Energy Action Northwest, an alliance of business and labor groups formed last year to advocate for responsible energy development in Oregon and Washington, will hold a “Day at the State Capitol” Friday, March 6, in Salem. The group is a proponent of proposed liquefied natural gas terminals and pipelines, including one at Bradwood Landing near Astoria.

God may or may not take sides in labor disputes — but ‘Father Bob’ does
Father Bob Krueger says mass three times a week at St. Francis Catholic Church in Southeast Portland. At age 80, he’s semi-retired as a diocesan priest. He's also one of the most active local religious leaders in speaking up for economic morality.
Al Panek retires; Wyden names Smith Warner new labor liaison
Barbara Smith Warner has been hired as a field staff representative and labor liaison for Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden. She succeeds Al Panek, who is retiring at the end of February after serving 12 years in that position.