December 15th, 2011 | by COREY PEIN News | Posted In: City Hall, PDX Votes

Four City Labor Unions Say They Won't Endorse Any Candidate for Mayor (Updated)

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Four large local unions, representing 2,000 city of Portland employees, say they looked at the candidates for mayor and have decided who they want to endorse: none of the above.

The unions, including those representing police and firefighters, say they're still looking for an acceptable candidate. The unions made a joint announcement on Thursday, endorsing Steve Novick and Mary Nolan for two City Council positions, but deferring an endorsement for mayor.

"We have yet to see real, tangible things" from the mayoral candidates, said Jim Forquer of the city's firefighters' union. 

The decision is a blow to Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland), who had counted on union support for his candidacy. 

"The union proceses are still ongoing and we're still having meetings," Smith spokeswoman Stacey Dycus says. 

And indeed, the union leaders present indicated that they could still be persuaded by one of the mayoral candidates—or another candidate, if someone more to these local unions' liking enters the race. 

Asked if the firefighters' union would welcome another candidate into the mayoral race, Forquer said yes. 

Later, Forquer said, "We just haven't heard everything we wanted to hear yet. We may well endorse one of the current candidates… It's very likely that we're looking at the field we're going to have."

Present at the announcement were Forquer of the International Association of Firefighters, Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner, International Longeshore and Warehouse Union local 8 president Jeff Smith and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 48 business agent Joe Esmonde.

The ILWU doesn't represent any city workers, but pays close attention to City Hall races, according to AFL-CIO Oregon spokeswoman Elana Guiney, who helped organize today's joint announcement. 

The largest city union, AFSCME, which represents 1,000 city workers, has not yet made its endorsement (or lack thereof). 

Esmonde of the IBEW, which represents about 100 workers in the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Bureau of Environmental Services, cited the construction of the controversial Columbia River Crossing as a top issue for his union. 

The bridge "has to be built," he said. "We need it to get more business here."

And in a dismissal of businesswoman Eileen Brady's endorsement for mayor yesterday by several local tech executives, Esmonde called for increased attention to blue-collar industries.

"Not everybody can work in high tech. Not everybody can be a designer. Some people want to work in factories," Esmonde said. "We don't want Portland to turn into an extension of Eugene."
 
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