Murmurs: Union Organizes Inside Oregon’s Largest Hospital System

In other news: Lawsuits! Awards! Awards! Lawsuits!

Union Organizes Inside Oregon's Largest Hospital System: For more than four years, Service Employees International Union has sparred with Oregon hospitals, pushing them to improve working conditions and compensation for employees. The union has filed ballot measures against the hospitals and pushed for legislation that would require nonprofit hospitals to share in the windfall that resulted from Obamacare. Now SEIU has taken direct action against Providence Health and Services, the state's biggest hospital system and largest private employer. On June 14, SEIU organized 200 workers at Providence Milwaukie Hospital, including certified nursing assistants, phlebotomists, dietary aides and environmental service workers. It's the first time SEIU has successfully organized at a Providence hospital in Oregon—and gets the union's nose under the tent for future battles. "This is an incredible victory for caregivers who have worked so hard to have a voice in quality care and improve their lives," says SEIU Local 49 president Meg Niemi.

Oregon Sues Trump Over Family Separations: Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum joined a lawsuit June 26 challenging the Trump administration's family separation policy. The policy separated children from their parents at the U.S. border, in order to criminally prosecute every adult who crossed the border illegally. "This cruel policy has already had a horrendous impact in Oregon," Rosenblum said in a statement. (Disclosure: Rosenblum is married to the co-owner of WW's parent company.) Oregon joined the lawsuit the same day the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump's travel ban preventing people from several majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

Eastmoreland Residents Sue Over Historic District: Two residents of Southeast Portland's Eastmoreland neighborhood are suing state agencies, alleging the vote whether to include the neighborhood on the National Register of Historic Places was rigged. The lawsuit was filed in Marion County Circuit Court on June 19 against Oregon Parks and Recreation and two staffers at the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office. The lawsuit by Derek and Manda Blum claims 5,000 of the votes objecting to the historic designation were invalid, and less than 1,000 were from legitimate owners. "We find it difficult to believe that an Oregon agency dedicated to historic preservation would endorse this kind of ballot-stuffing," wrote the Blums' attorney, Brian Sheets.

From the Department of Shameless Self-Promotion: Willamette Week has been awarded the top prize for general excellence among large newspapers in a five-state Northwest journalism competition. The Northwest Excellence in Journalism prizes were announced June 21; WW competed against newsrooms in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. WW also won first place in long-form feature news reporting for Matthew Korfhage's profile of controversial author Jim Goad ("The White Stuff," WW, Oct. 10, 2017) and second place in crime and justice reporting for Nigel Jaquiss' cover story on online opioid dealing ("Death by Bitcoin," WW, July 5, 2017).

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