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About Northwest labor press. (Portland , Ore.) 1987-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 6, 2006)
Sweeney links global
trading system, poverty
up to their
A voter-approved clampdown
on signature gathering abuse does-
n’t seem to have changed the be-
havior of one Portland-based signa-
ture gathering company — B&P
According to evidence released
Dec. 22 by the union-backed ballot
measure watchdog group Our Ore-
gon, B&P has been paying peti-
tioners by-the-signature. That kind
of “bounty” was made illegal by
Measure 26, which was passed by
Oregon voters in 2002. Under the
law, ballot measure campaigns may
pay petitioners, but they must pay
them by the hour.
B&P allegedly paid petitioners
in cash, with no documentation —
sometimes on street corners or out
of the windows of a car, reporters
were told at a press conference on
Petitioners were required to
hand in petitions at 10 a.m. Mon-
day and Thursday, and then come
back to collect their cash at 3 p.m.
after the signatures had been veri-
The company disputes the alle-
At least four current ballot
measure campaigns are employing
B&P to gather signatures, includ-
ing campaigns headed by union
foes Bill Sizemore and Russ
Last year, B&P owner Parker
Bell was fined $2,500 for the same
violation — paying per signature.
Told they might have been cheated out of wages, a number of B&P
petitioners filed wage claims with the Bureau of Labor and Industries.
Above, Patty Wentz of Our Oregon shares a flyer with information on how
to file a claim. Photo by Josh Berezin.
Bell used to work for Sizemore.
The Oregon Education Associ-
ation and the American Federation
of Teachers won a $2.5 million rul-
ing in September 2002 against
Sizemore and his Oregon Taxpay-
ers United Education Foundation, a
charity he founded along with a po-
litical action committee.
A Multnomah County jury
found the charity and the PAC
guilty of fraud and forgery, and de-
termined they engaged in a pattern
of racketeering to obtain signatures
on initiative petitions for tax meas-
During the trial, Sizemore testi-
fied that Bell had cheated him,
charging him for more signatures
than were delivered.
That means Sizemore is going
back to paying a signature-gather-
ing crew boss that he himself ac-
Trusts for Twenty Years
One SW Columbia St., Suite 1100 Portland, OR 97258
cused of cheating.
The unions have yet to see any
of the $2.5 million.
On the most recent allegations,
Our Oregon filed a complaint
against B&P with the Oregon Sec-
retary of State Elections Division.
Director John Lindback said the
agency is investigating and will de-
termine whether to pursue criminal
or civil charges against the firm.
In the meantime, Our Oregon is
asking anyone who sees people
gathering signatures for initiative
petitions to call its “ballot watch
hotline” at 503-239-8029. Our
Oregon wants reports on initiatives,
locations, dates, names of signature
gatherers and the pitch that is given
to get signatures.
For more information about the
organization, go to www.ourore-
HONG KONG (PAI) — The busi-
ness-run inequitable global trading sys-
tem enriches corporate CEOs while
leaving people in poverty worldwide,
says AFL-CIO President John
Speaking Dec. 11 in Hong Kong, at
the end of a week of demonstrations for
workers’ rights in the U.S. and around
the globe, the federation chief de-
nounced “the link between the current
global trading system and the continued
poverty experienced by too many in the
Sweeney spoke just after protesters
gathered in Hong Kong before the latest
meeting of world trade ministers for ne-
gotiations on international trade rules.
Those talks, held Dec. 12-16, went
nowhere. The ministers, including U.S.
Trade Representative Robert Portman,
did not consider workers’ rights.
“U.S. workers join workers globally
in calling for an end to an unjust trading
system that increases corporate profits
at the expense of workers’ rights and
workers’ dignity,” Sweeney said of the
demonstrations in the U.S., which drew
more than 60,000 people nationwide.
“We join you in calling for trade justice
— a system of trading that benefits mil-
lions of workers and the poor by includ-
ing workers’ rights. The current system
creates jobs that keep the majority of
workers impoverished ... benefits no-
body but the CEOs,” he stated.
Sweeney reminded the crowd that in
the U.S., workers’ rights often “exist
only on paper,” with workers being ha-
rassed, intimidated, spied upon and fired
when they try to form or join unions.
Almost all global trade pacts, including
the World Trade Organization’s charter,
ignore or belittle worker rights. The
Hong Kong trade talks were under the
World Trade Organization auspices.
...’Who’s side are they on?’
(From Page 2)
cent), Northeast (59 percent) and Mid-
west (60 percent) say the country is on
the wrong track. Among Southern vot-
ers, some 48 percent say the nation is
on the wrong track, while 35 percent
say it’s going in the right direction.
A major factor in the disapproval of
the nation’s direction is the strong be-
lief that both Congress (66 percent) and
President George W. Bush (59 percent)
are out of step with working families’
priorities, the poll found.
The public’s concern over the na-
tion’s direction crossed economic, po-
litical and geographic lines. Among em-
ployed adults surveyed, 58 percent say
the nation is on the wrong track, as do
64 percent of working women and 63
percent of members of working fami-
lies with incomes of less than $40,000.
Many media commentators have at-
tributed recent public dissatisfaction to
the war in Iraq, but the Hart poll shows
working families hold deep concerns
over the nation’s domestic course, espe-
cially in five areas: Health care (69 per-
cent), retirement security (65 percent),
fair taxes (57 percent), education (53
percent) and jobs and the economy (47
percent). The survey also finds 63 per-
cent of seniors ages 65 and older dissat-
isfied with the new Medicare prescrip-
tion drug benefit plan that opened to
enrollees Nov. 15 for coverage that be-
gan Jan. 1, 2006.
The survey was conducted Dec. 1-4,
2005, among a representative sample of
801 registered voters, with a margin of
error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
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JANUARY 6, 2006