Hundreds of unionized workers employeed by the city of Portland
snaked through busy downtown sidewalks to an afternoon rally today outside City Hall.
Chanting "What do we want? Contract. When do want it? Now," protesters-organized by the District Council of Trade Unions-
began at Chapman Square on Southwest 4th and Main St at 4:30 pm. The DCTU, which represents about one-third of the city's employees, hopes to secure better wages and fight proposed changes to the way workers earn overtime.
The DCTU includes utility workers, transportation workers, equipment operators, and meter readers, among others. The group has entered contract mediation
and might go on strike if it cannot reach an agreement with the city
. Hopefully it won't come to that, says Ken Allen, executive director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
, which is one of the seven unions in the DCTU.
"A settlement is good for the city of Portland," Allen told demonstrators. "Getting this over with is good for the city of Portland."
City Council voted this morning to approve an agreement with workers in the Bureau of Emergency Communications, one of the groups AFSCME represents. Don Loving, public affairs director for AFSCME, says more agreements might be on the way soon as deliberations continue.
"We'll see what happens," Loving said. "We may make some strides tomorrow. But the City of Portland is going to have to pull back in order for that to happen."