The enormous oculus at Fubonn Shopping Center doesn't have to worry about protesters sullying its view of 82nd Street commerce any longer.
Since last summer, the mall—booked as Oregon's largest shopping center—has been occasionally hectored by sign-waiving demonstrators, who alleged the business denied employees breaks, owed back pay and mistreated workers. That group, the Portland Solidarity Network, sought to shame owner Michael Liu for the alleged injustices, even circulating flyers in his neighborhood.
The activity caused a 1 percent hit in sales, Liu claimed in a defamation suit against demonstrators and the two former employees bringing the allegations.
"From this point forward," read a letter Liu's attorney sent demonstrators in December, "Fubonn and Mr. Liu will use all of their resources to clear their names and obtain judgments against the defendants and anyone else that is discovered to have participated in this or any other defamatory campaign."
Activists argued Liu's suit amounted to what is called a "strategic lawsuit against public participation," or SLAPP. That's the name given to suits companies strategically file to silence and penalize vocal critics by saddling them with legal fees. The two groups appeared before a Multnomah County judge last month to argue their points.
In the weeks since, Portland Solidarity Network and Liu have reached a settlement, according to court documents. The terms aren't clear—for instance, whether Liu agreed to pay more-than $4,000 the group argued he owed the two complaining employees—but the demonstrations are done.
"They signed a lot of (non-disclosure agreements) so I will have to see what they can disclose," says Shane Burley, an organizer with Portland Solidarity, "but the campaign is definitely over."
In the mean time, the group has taken up the cause of other workers. According to its website, PSN activists have successfully pressured two (smaller) local businesses into paying owed wages with tactics similar to those used with Fubonn.