March 6, 2009 Volume 110 Number 5

TriMet’s new WES train is a union operation
West-side Portland commuters got a new option Feb. 2, thanks to TriMet and a mostly-union skilled workforce.

[Pictured left are rail technicians Jim Whillans and Greg Durham, members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, in front of a train that was taken out of service for a week by an electrical fire.]

USW cheers Buy American clause in stimulus package… and takes campaign local
Unions can’t make consumers buy U.S.-made products. But they can demand, when governments spend tax dollars to put Americans back to work, that the money be spent in the United States as much as possible.

The budget crisis hits home
Oregon: Weak economy hits state budget hard
Job losses and falling business incomes have blown a hole in the budget of the State of Oregon, which relies on personal and corporate income tax to pay for schools, prisons, and social services. A projected $3 billion shortfall could spell a shortened school year and a host of other cuts.

Washington: Governor reneges on union contract, prompting lawsuit, bad blood
Facing a projected $8-billion-plus budget shortfall, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire instituted a hiring freeze, proposed budget cuts, and decided not to ask the Legislature to fund a raise her office negotiated with public employee unions. 
Multnomah County: AFSCME 88 offers wage freeze to prevent layoffs
Multnomah County’s largest union is proposing to freeze wages at current levels for a year, in response to worries about job and service cuts from a looming budget shortfall.
What’s killing U.S. manufacturing? [Hint: It’s not what you’ve been hearing]
Ever hear about the overpaid union workers who made it too expensive to make anything in America? A new report by the non-profit Economic Policy Institute suggests that piece of widely-believed conventional wisdom is inaccurate.

Q&A with Jeff Merkley
Unlike his predecessor Gordon Smith, who seldom granted an audience with labor, newly-installed U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) met with union leaders on his first trip back from Washington, D.C. … and answered questions from the Northwest Labor Press about his first month in office.

T-Mobile puts chill on union organizing campaign
When union organizers started visiting T-Mobile stores last May, a management directive went out: "Union activity must be reported to HR … the same day." Several leaked memos later, an out-of-court settlement offers a glimpse into how giant corporations use local management as the front line against union campaigns.
Economist tells Bricklayers Union: Growing the labor movement will boost economy
Unions helped create America’s middle-class, and unions will have to help America get out of one of the worst recessions in a generation, economics professor Richard A. Levines told members of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1 Feb. 21.
UA 290 health fair offers medical screenings to members
Plumbers and Fitters Local 290 offered members, retirees and spouses free medical screenings, hearing tests, chair messages, healthy cooking classes, and more at its 12th annual health fair at the union training center.
Ground is broken on Fallen Workers Memorial in Salem
Ground has broken on the new Fallen Workers Memorial at the main entrance of the Labor and Industries Building on the State Capitol Mall in Salem.

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