City of Portland’s Enhanced Service District Liaison Departs

The departure comes amid renewed controversy over the city’s three service districts wherein business owners agree to pay a fee to get extra cleaning and security services.

Shawn Campbell, coordinator for the city of Portland’s three enhanced service districts, left his job last week.

The city declined to answer questions about Campbell’s departure and whether it was voluntary, but it comes at a curious time: The city is undergoing a community review of a scathing 2020 audit that revealed accountability and transparency issues within the districts.

Such districts—in which business owners agree to pay a fee for extra cleanup and security services—have long been controversial.

All three districts agreed to jointly fund Campbell’s position. Campbell did not respond to a request for comment.

Aside from external controversy that’s come to be expected for the three districts, there’s been recent internal strife in one of them, too.

A local security company filed a complaint in June with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that Clean & Safe, the organization that runs the downtown district, entered into an unlawful agreement with Service Employees International Union Local 49 that resulted in the security company losing a contract to an international security conglomerate. (SEIU denies the allegations. Clean & Safe and the Portland Business Alliance have not responded to requests for comment.)

At issue in the complaint is a city procurement policy enacted in 2020 that requires city contractors in laundry, security and janitorial work to obtain a “labor peace” agreement with a union in order to work for the city. Such an agreement is mutually beneficial: The company doesn’t have to worry about striking workers, and the union doesn’t have to worry about the employer interfering with unionizing efforts.

Clean & Safe agreed to abide by the city’s policy last fall during its contract renegotiations with the city.

But the city’s policy has caused strife.

Two local security companies were enraged when they were turned down for Clean & Safe’s security contract this spring, neither of whom obtained a labor peace agreement. Instead Clean & Safe awarded the contract to out-of-town and embattled security giant GardaWorld (“Insecure,” WW, June 15).

Now the labor board is investigating that complaint, lodged by one of the two security firms, Northwest Enforcement, alleging that SEIU, PBA and Clean and Safe entered into a “hot cargo” agreement that led to the awarding of the contract to GardaWorld. (A hot cargo agreement is a deal between an employer and union in which the employer agrees to hire only companies friendly to that union.)

The city is also being sued in federal court over this same policy by DePaul Industries, a company that contracts with the city and employs unarmed security guards who have disabilities.