City Declares Labor Impasse with 1,600 Workers

A union member holds a sign at the annual Labor Day picnic at Oaks Park.

The City of Portland today declared an impasse with a coalition of seven labor unions, signaling negotiations over a new contract have broken down.

"We started bargaining on Feb. 19," says Rob Wheaton, chief negotiator for the District Council of Trade Unions. "Essentially, they're saying that they don't want to talk anymore."

The DCTU represents more than 1,600 city workers, ranging from janitorial employees to police staff. The city and the union coalition have clashed over the contract language that would let the city contract out jobs the unions say should go to its members.

Those outside contracts include deals with the county jail and state prisons—programs that union leaders described as "slave labor" to WW in September.

Wheaton says outside contracting is the main sticking point in talks.

"This isn't about wages and benefits," he says. "It's all about contracting out."

City officials have confirmed the declaration of an impasse to WW. "The next step," says city Human Resources executive assistant Karen Sorensen, "is for both parties to submit their final offers and cost summaries to the State Employment Relations Board."

WWeek 2015

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