Union Seeks Payback for Pension Cuts: As political season warms up, the state's third-largest public employees union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, wants revenge. This week, the union, which represents 26,000 Oregon workers, announced it will withhold campaign endorsements and cash from lawmakers who voted for Senate Bill 1049, which included pension cuts. "Legislators that voted for SB 1049 devalued the work we do on behalf of the people of Oregon," Jeff Klatke, president of Oregon AFSCME, said in a statement. "No interviews, no endorsement, no financial support. Our members generously donate their time and money to our political efforts to support legislators who fight for workers regardless of political party." Two Democratic candidates for secretary of state, state Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) and state Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D-Portland), voted for the bill and will enter the most hotly contested statewide race without AFSCME's help.
State Finds Wind Farm Abused Workers: Oregon Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle's agency has lowered the boom on Colorado-based RES Construction, a subcontractor on the $590 million Montague wind farm in Eastern Oregon's Gilliam County. Investigators for the Bureau of Labor and Industries determined RES deprived workers of hundreds of meal and rest breaks earlier this year. BOLI now proposes to fine RES $209,800, the biggest penalty imposed by the agency since it fined legislative leaders $1.1 million in a sexual harassment case. The Montague project qualified for more than $10 million in tax benefits for the project's developer, Avangrid. RES may now fight the fine in a contested case hearing. "Our wage and hour division found evidence of wrongdoing," Hoyle said. "Workers are entitled to meal periods and rest periods under Oregon law." RES declined to comment.
Oregon Lottery Boss Gets a Raise: Oregon Lottery director Barry Pack was awarded a 7-plus-percent raise Sept. 27, even as the agency struggles in its efforts to set up smartphone-based gaming. Pack's salary is now $214,932 a year. The salary bump was a cost-of-living adjustment and is in keeping with raises other state agencies have awarded. It still raised eyebrows: The lottery has exceeded revenue projections by $2 million this fiscal year but has repeatedly postponed the launch of its new sports-betting app.
Three Labor Disputes End Amicably: Labor and management agreed to contracts in three large labor disputes last week. Kaiser Permanente reached agreement with 80,000 health care workers in six states, including Oregon; the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 settled with grocers, including Fred Meyer; and 4,500 Service Employees International Union Local 503 workers reached an agreement with Oregon's universities. Only the SEIU contract is public, because the universities are publicly owned, unlike Kaiser and the grocers. SEIU workers will get 15 to 17 percent more pay over the next two years under their deal, which, like the others, is subject to an employee vote. "This hard-fought victory is a testament to the strength and solidarity of Oregon's frontline university workers," said SEIU Local 503 executive director Melissa Unger.