The missing portable toilets at Occupy Portland—a whole bank of them along SW Madison outside Chapman Square—may not be missing for all that long. In fact, they might be back as soon as this afternoon. And a "tenuous" sanitation situation fretted over by the Oregonian (as you'll remember, the parks bureau is stopping maintenance at Chapman and and Lownsdale squares) doesn't appear to be that "tenuous" at all.

"There was a miscue over the portapotties today," explains Grant Swanson, an occupier and vice president of AFSCME Local 88, a city employee union. "They were changed out at 7 this morning, and they'll be back this afternoon, or tomorrow morning at the latest."

Why ask AFSCME? The union's statewide council is helping to pay for the portable toilets. And so are a handful of other public employee unions, all taking turns. AFSCME is paying for this week's toilets and when the toilets return next week, "chances are it'll be another union," Swanson says. Swanson says the statewide AFSCME council approved $5,000 in in-kind donations for uses like toilets and printing costs and other needs. AFSCME's environmental caucus, which Swanson directs, chipped in another $1,000 that's currently helping pay for toilets.

Swanson said it's true there have been problems with the portable toilets. At an Occupy Portland labor outreach committee meeting last week, which I sat in on, occupiers and representatives from unions like Service Employees International, COPPEA, and AFSCME discussed how to get past problems with vandalism, communication, and overuse. Vandalism, especially, was driving toilet providers crazy and raising costs for the unions.

But when we spoke today, Swanson said Occupy's safety and sanitation teams have spread the word not to scribble all over the toilets, and that adding more toilets has allowed for less-frequent pickups. Officials at Honey Bucket, the company that's agreed to service the camp, "want to thank folks down at Occupy," Swanson says, adding that "some companies in town have had issues" with supporting the movement and also dealing with the logistical issues of changing rapidly filled toilets, but that Honey Bucket are "really nice folks."

There have been further concerns that the internal issues at the encampment—fights and other struggles emerging from the camp's embrace of the mentally ill and addicts who reliably show up for shelter and three square meals—might lead unions to drop what they're doing financially.

Ken Allen, AFSCME's executive director, told me he wasn't rethinking his union's three-week-old commitment because of any internal camp issues: "They're gonna get worked out in the camp. We authorized our support for the folks who are there creating a political movement."