August 21, 2006  Volume 107 Number 16
Congress passes complex pension bill, chock full of special favors
In July and August, the U.S. House and Senate approved what Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy called "the most important action to safeguard the retirement of hard-working Americans in a generation." But the new law does nothing to stop the overall decline of guaranteed pensions, said the national AFL-CIO. And it's crammed with unrelated measures and special favors to a handful of industries.
141 fired custodians will return to Portland school district this fall
When the day of decision arrived Aug. 4, 141 custodians declared they want to return to work at Portland Public Schools. Four years ago, the district fired 330 custodians and assigned their work to an outside janitorial contractor. Meanwhile, the Custodial Civil Service Board, the tail that wagged the dog, is being quietly reconstituted.
PDC wants to talk more about construction wages
The Portland Development Commission will hold public hearings to consider whether there should be an agency-wide policy on construction wages paid on its development projects. Hearing of that decision, Bob Shiprack, executive secretary of the Oregon Building and Construction Trades Council, said he was struck speechless.
Tipped worker pay cut dies in Senate
Restaurant workers in seven states, including Oregon and Washington, dodged a bullet Aug. 3 when the U.S. Senate failed to pass a Frankenstein bill that the House passed July 29. Oregon's Senator Gordon Smith effectively voted in favor of the bill to cut estate taxes — and the wages of tipped workers.

AFL-CIO releases interim COPE voting records for ‘06
So far this year, Oregon’s Democratic congressional delegation has some of the best voting records of any state on issues tracked by the national AFL-CIO’s Committee on Political Education. The scorecard is not the official document for 2006, but rather a running record of votes that were of interest to the AFL-CIO as they pertain to working people. The AFL-CIO’s interim scorecard tracked 24 bills and/or amendments to bills that were voted on before Congress recessed for the summer on Aug. 4.

Local 11 contract protects workers from Northwest Natural’s cost-cutting plan
On Aug. 3, NW Natural introduced a "new operations model" to cut costs and remain independent. The model includes eliminating as many as 150 jobs over the next two to three years.

Think again
A regular column by Tim Nesbitt
A health plan for desperate Democrats
If you want an example of health care reform gone wrong, don't look to Washington, D.C., where Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over marginal, market-based reforms like health savings accounts. Look to the blue state of Massachusetts. 

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