March 3, 2006  Volume 107 Number 5

Goodbye, Dubai

Left: Oregon labor unions joined a widening outcry over the Bush Administration- approved sale of major port operations in six U.S. cities to the United Arab Emirates-owned Dubai Ports World. More than 150 unionists rallied at Terminal 6 in North Portland on Feb. 24 — part of a nationwide event called by the Teamsters, which represents thousands of drivers who work in and around America’s ports. In a statement read at the Portland rally, Oregon U.S. Rep. David Wu, said, “The U.S. prohibits foreign ownership of our airlines and good farmland. We should consider applying such laws to our nation’s ports.”

Six building trades unions form Construction Alliance
The Laborers and Operating Engineers left the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department on March 1 to establish the National Construction Alliance with the Carpenters, Teamsters, Bricklayers and Iron Workers. The new alliance will represent roughly 2 million construction workers nationwide.
Storm Warning: Merger madness in utility industry threatens reliability
Last August, the Public Utility Holding Company Act was repealed. Now, a monster storm of utility consolidation is gathering on the horizon. For the utility customer who expects reliable service, for the utility employee who depends on a stable employer, for the retiree who relies on a regular dividend from a “safe” utility stock, there may be no safe harbor when the storm arrives.
Multnomah County employees union rejects Linn, backs Wheeler for county chair
The union that represents most workers at Multnomah County announced it will back Ted Wheeler for county chair. Wheeler is running against incumbent chair Diane Linn, which had the union's backing in two previous races. Local 88 also endorsed Gary Hansen and Steve March for county offices, and declined to endorse Bernie Giusto, running unopposed for re-election as Multnomah County sheriff.

Byrd considered for vacant AFL-CIO post; COPE to plan political agenda
When the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive, General and COPE boards meet March 10 in Portland, they will appoint a new secretary-treasurer and discuss political campaign endorsements. Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain has proposed Barbara Byrd be appointed to fill the vacant position. Byrd is a member of the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon and the Portland Center coordinator of the University of Oregon's Labor Education and Research Center.
SEIU recognized as advocate for 6,000 Oregon child care workers
Service Employees International Union Local 503 will have a role representing 6,000 unlicensed in-home child care providers in Oregon, thanks to an executive order signed by Governor Ted Kulongoski.

Corrections staff set March 6 strike in Washington County
About 30 community corrections workers in Hillsboro voted more than a year ago to form AFSCME Local 3913. They have been unable to reach agreement on a first contract.
Hillsboro School District contracts out custodial jobs
Fifty-six Hillsboro School District custodians and groundskeepers were terminated Feb. 24 as part of a district plan to save money by contracting out. The work will now be done by Somers Building Maintenance, a union employer where workers belong to SEIU Local 49. The fired workers were members of American Federation of Teachers-Oregon, which resisted the plan to contract out for eight months before relenting when it appeared the district was prepared to impose its final offer without the workers’ consent.
Court upholds ban on piecemeal-paid signature-gatherers
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 22 upheld 2002’s Ballot Measure 26, the union-sponsored measure that bans initiative signature-gatherers from being paid for each signature collected — a practice which had led to widespread documented fraud and abuse.

Think again
A regular column by Tim Nesbitt
The ABCs of our health care crisis
Pollsters report that health care has supplanted jobs and education as the Number One concern of Oregonians. Our health care crisis is two-fold. Too many people don’t have insurance, and those who have it are paying more than they can afford in premiums, co-pays and deductibles. These two problems are connected, and they’re both problems that our government is going to have to solve.

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