A large group of around 250 city of Portland workers gathered outside city hall this afternoon, shouting repeatedly at city council to "wake up." The rally, organized by unions, marked the filing of three unfair labor practice complaints against the city by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
"The city council have been totally hands off in this," said Carol Justice, a union employee with the city's cable office. "They're just deferring all the decisions to the city attorneys, who are anti-labor, and the bureau of human resources. We're talking about the most liberal council in the country, and yet some of the most serious allegations are being made about labor practices."
The first complaint alleges retaliation against union members by police command staff. Lieutenant Bob Day is alleged to have "lunged across the table, turned bright red, and reprimanded" a desk clerk for correcting a commander about training for unionized employees threatened with layoffs. The desk clerk was ordered to "watch his tone," and to "respect the chain of command," according to the complaint. He was subsequently denied a promotion. Other allegations are made against the Water Bureau and the city's bureau of Human Resources for retaliation against other union employees.
The second complaint alleges that the city has failed its obligations to bargain collectively with employees over layoffs made in the recent budget—the city is due to renegotiate its union contract next year. The third complaint alleges the city has failed similar obligations related to the reorganization of its Bureau of Development Services—which has laid off more than half its workforce since July.
City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who oversees the Bureau of Development Services, had a meeting with County Commissioner Judy Shiprack at 11:30 and was not around to watch the march. More than 300 bagged lunches were given out to union workers, and a lot of (delicious) cupcakes were consumed: