Oregon Union Officials Ban Gov. Kate Brown and Democratic Lawmakers From Speaking at Labor Day Picnic

Brown and lawmakers who voted for pension will be punished at annual political season kickoff.

Every Labor Day, the Northwest Labor Council hosts a heavily attended picnic at Oaks Park in Southeast Portland. It's the de facto kickoff of the political season.

The event provides elected officials and candidates to address a variety of union groups in a burger-and beer-fueled atmosphere.

But as the Northwest Labor Press first reported, many of the state's top Democrats, including Gov. Kate Brown and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) will not be allowed to address the crowd at this year's event.

The Northwest Labor Council voted July 22 to gag Brown and those who voted for Senate Bill 1049, which requires cuts in public employee retirement benefits.

Democrats took the vote in response to pressure from the business community to address the state's $26 billion unfunded pension liability, most of which is owed to retirees whose benefits cannot be meaningfully reduced.

In a response to the vote, Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain accused the Democrats who supported the measure of "betrayal," and urged union members not to forget it.

Spokespersons for Brown and Kotek did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The picnic, minus many of the usual speakers, will be held Sept. 2 from 10 am to 5 pm at Oaks Amusement Park.

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