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About Northwest labor press. (Portland , Ore.) 1987-current | View Entire Issue (May 19, 2006)
MEETING NO TICES
V olume 107
Ma y 19, 2006
Labor federations reach accord on Solidarity Charters
Change to Win forms new political
organization, and says it will not
renew Solidarity Charters after ‘06
WASHINGTON, D.C. (PAI) — Faced with a split in labor’s po-
litical operations, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win reached a new
agreement on May 8 on letting Change to Win union locals get Sol-
The pact, announced by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and
Change to Win Chair Anna Burger, recommits the CtW unions to
paying per-capita dues for locals that have charters and rejoin — or
remain — in AFL-CIO’s state federations and central labor coun-
CtW locals on May 1 suspended dues payments to AFL-
CIO state and local bodies to protest what they said were newly-im-
posed Solidarity Charter rules that excluded the Farm Workers and
any other union that left the national AFL-CIO after July 2005 from
participating. Approximately 1,600 CtW locals have signed Solidar-
ity Charters nationwide. Their dues dollars account for a large por-
tion of operating income for state labor federations and local labor
In a concession to end the brouhaha, Sweeney said he’ll ask his
Executive Council to let United Farm Workers locals seek charters.
If approved, they would join five of the seven CtW unions — the
Service Employees, Teamsters, UNITE HERE, Carpenters and the
United Food and Commercial Workers — whose locals can get char-
ters. The seventh CtW union, the Laborers, is still in the AFL-CIO.
The resolution is important, Burger and Sweeney said, so locals
and their members from both federations can work with each other
“on the ground” during the 2006 campaign — a key reason the char-
ters were established in the first place.
“The entire labor movement is united by the desire to make work-
ing people’s issues the country’s priorities this election year, and we
are taking all the necessary steps to effectively coordinate our efforts
toward this end,” they added.
To run the political operation, the two federations will create a
National Labor Coordinating Committee, chaired by American Fed-
eration of State, County and Municipal Employees President Gerald
McEntee and vice-chaired by CtW Secretary-Treasurer Edgar Rom-
ney, who is executive vice president of UNITE HERE.
“Political directors and staff from the organizations will work in
close collaboration on every aspect of the program, and the organi-
zations will share the costs of joint activities,” the two federations
After the CtW unions left the AFL-CIO in 2005, the state feds
and central labor councils lost substantial shares of their dollars,
staffers and political activists. They then pressured Sweeney to es-
tablish the Solidarity Charter program to help recoup the losses.
Despite the announcement, political unity on the ground may not
be complete. SEIU President Andy Stern, in a May 3 letter to his lo-
cal leaders announcing the developments, said SEIU — like the oth-
ers — left Solidarity Charter participation decisions to its locals. As
a result, “uneven participation makes it impossible to create a fully
integrated member-to-member program” for the elections “that in-
cludes all members of both federations,” Stern said.
He also said CtW would go ahead with an idea Burger proposed,
and Sweeney rejected: Creation of an “umbrella” organization, the
Alliance For Worker Justice “to bring the AFL-CIO, Change to Win
and any other labor organization together to plan and coordinate on
legislative and political issues that affect working families.”
And Stern reminded CtW locals the Solidarity Charters will exist
only through the end of this year, adding: “Change to Win has no
plan to seek renewal of the program beyond that date.”
Tom Chamberlain, president of the Oregon AFL-CIO, said two
Change to Win unions with Solidarity Charters — Service Employ-
ees Locals 503 and 49 — will decide later this month whether to
continue paying dues to the state labor federation.
Change to Win unions with Solidarity Charters at the Northwest
Oregon Labor Council — United Food and Commercial Workers
Local 555, UNITE HERE Local 9 and Teamsters Joint Council 37
— attended a May 8 executive board meeting, where representa-
tives said they will resume paying dues to Oregon’s largest central la-
Multnomah County judge
says prevailing wage law
doesn’t apply on PDC job
STAMPING OUT HUNGER — Letter Carrier Tisa Wrightson (right) watches a team of volunteers from Wells
Fargo Bank unload food items from her mail truck at the Parkrose Post Office, part of the National Association of
Letter Carriers one-day “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive on May 13. On that day, letter carriers collected bags of
donated food left by mail boxes along their routes. Nearly 560,750 pounds of food was collected by members of NALC
Branch 82 in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. It was taken to the Oregon Food Bank for distribution.
A Multnomah County Circuit Court
judge ruled May 3 that the state prevail-
ing wage law doesn’t apply to a Port-
land renovation project that is being
partially financed with taxpayer dollars.
The state prevailing wage law has
been on the books in Oregon since 1959
and was last revised by the Legislature
in 2005. It was enacted to ensure that
contractors on public works projects
compete on ability and efficiency rather
than on who can pay the lowest wages
and offer the fewest benefits.
Prevailing wages and benefits are set
through annual surveys of more than
5,000 contractors by the Oregon Em-
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and In-
dustries (BOLI) enforces the law.
The court case stems from a lawsuit
filed by the Portland Development
Commission (PDC) against BOLI over
a determination by state Labor Com-
missioner Dan Gardner that a redevel-
opment project in Northeast Portland
— known as the Tin Roof project —
was a prevailing wage job.
PDC — the development arm for the
City of Portland — appealed, saying the
project was a private one because the
agency only loaned money and didn’t
own the building.
When Gardner would not reverse his
decision the agency sued BOLI.
PDC is involved in numerous part-
nerships with private developers, many
of which involve taxpayer dollars
through urban renewal districts, tax in-
crement financing and other creative fi-
BOLI maintains that the prevailing
wage law covers any binding agreement
a public agency enters into which re-
quires construction, uses public funds,
and is done in the public interest.
PDC has argued for a much narrower
legal interpretation, contending that the
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