Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette has abruptly cancelled its annual fundraising dinner, which was scheduled for Saturday, May 12.
The $250-per-plate event fell victim to a threatened picket line. Last August, Planned Parenthood's 179 clinical workers voted to become part of Service Employees Union Local 49. Since November, the organization and SEIU have been trying to agree upon a contract. Frustrated with the pace of negotiations, SEIU let Planned Parenthood and many of its patrons know they planned an action for Saturday night. That was an effective move, given that many of the metro area's elected officials and their top supporters planned to be at the event, which this year had a "Roman Holiday" theme.
As WW reported in its print edition today, Gov. John Kitzhaber cancelled his plans to attend when he heard about the picket and after the paper went to press, Planned Parenthood CEO David Greenberg threw in the towel.
Here's the email Greenberg sent out last night canceling the event:
It is with great disappointment that I write to let you know that we have decided to cancel our upcoming Spring Gala next Saturday, May 12.
This difficult decision was taken after we learned that SEIU Local 49 would be picketing the event. As you may know, PPCW is in contract negotiations with our employees who are represented by the union. The purpose of the Spring Gala is to raise the vital funds needed to provide health care to the low-income women, men and teens that rely on us, and to recognize and thank our most committed supporters.
This year we had planned to recognize Christine and David Vernier, two of our most dedicated champions. The decision by SEIU to picket our event has put many of our supporters into the untenable position of having to choose between two organizations, and two progressive causes, both of which they support. It is out of respect for Christine and David as well as our other supporters that we have decided not to go forward with the event.
Please know that PPCW deeply appreciates and respects the right of our employees to organize, and we are doing everything we can to reach a contract as quickly as possible. I would be happy to respond to any questions you may have, so please do not hesitate to contact me. While we intend to honor Christine and David at a future date, we have no immediate plans to reschedule.
To request a refund, if needed, please contact Charles Milne at 503-775-4931 x 4 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I apologize for any inconvenience this late notice may cause you. I hope and trust that you will continue to stand with Planned Parenthood. We have a reputation for caring and service that the Board of Directors and I are committed to upholding.
Sincerely, David Greenberg