A union representing some 1,200 city of Portland employees has accused city mangers of interfering with the current union-wide vote, which will determine whether or not the city employees go on strike.

The District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) is a conglomeration of several unions representing city staff, including AFSCME Local 189, IBEW Local 48, Plumbers Local 290, Painters and Allied Trades District Council 5, Machinists District Lodge 24, Auto Mechanics District Lodge 24, and Operating Engineers Local 701. In December, DCTU declared an impasse in contract negotiations after the city refused to budge on the union's requests for equitable cost of living wage increases. In hopes of moving the negotiations forward, DCTU threatened a strike earlier this month. Union members began voting on whether or not to hold a strike last week, and the results of that vote are expected to be announced after Wednesday.

DCTU's members work in nearly all city departments, and their absence would cause disruption in critical city functions. The city has continued to meet with the DCTU's bargaining team during the vote in hopes of coming to an agreement before the strike is approved—but no progress has been announced yet. Instead, DCTU has accused city managers of illegally interfering with the vote.

In a press release sent Tuesday morning, DCTU President Rob Martineau said that city managers were misleading their workers by telling employees represented by DCTU that they aren't part of the union, by denying vacation request prior to the vote, and by conducting staff polls about how members plan on voting.

"It seems city managers are trying to create confusion and intimidate people," said Martineau. "It won’t work."

According to Martineau, these actions are in violation of the Oregon Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA), which prohibits employers from asking workers about their plans to participate in a strike.

"It is a slap in the face to Portlanders that the City would resort to these sorts of tactics instead of focusing on bargaining a fair contract with the workers that keep our great city running," said Martineau. "I don’t believe our elected leaders would silently stand by if other employers in Portland engaged in this type of anti-union behavior."

In an email to the Mercury, city spokesperson Heather Hafer said that the city cannot comment on pending litigation, but added: "The city supports and values its union members and respects employees’ rights to participate in all protected collective bargaining activities."

The city received DCTU's PECBA complaint Tuesday morning, which is now under consideration by the state's Employment Relations Board. According to state law, the board is required to hold a hearing to rule on the complaint within 20 days.

The vote will continue despite this complaint. According to DCTU, all votes should be counted by midnight, January 19.