PORTLAND, Ore. — A group of unions that represents about 1,100 municipal trade workers in Portland announced Thursday night that more than 86% of its members voted to authorize a strike that will begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10. The vote happened last week.
Rob Martineau, president of the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU), said Portland is losing "our most skilled workers to the competitive market" while new members of the union can't afford to live in Portland because of its high and rising cost of living. In Thursday night's press release, the DCTU said Portland City Council is unwilling to recognize "the cost of the city's labor needs" or the sacrifices city workers have made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We implore city management to reflect on the needs of our community — a community made up in no small part by the employees we represent — and the services we provide while they consider this final step of our long negotiation," Martineau said.
Prior to last week's vote, DCTU members overwhelmingly rejected the city's latest offer, which included a one-time $3,000 bonus and an annual 5% pay bump for workers in certain wage brackets this year.
"The city’s proposal drastically undervalues the work city employees are doing, providing essential services, to keep our communities healthy and safe," Martineau said last week.
If workers go on strike, it could threaten basic services across Portland. According to the Oregonian, the DCTU's members make up about 16% of the city's workforce and "comprise an array of employees, including maintenance workers, building inspectors and clerical staff." The Oregonian reports that DCTU members are employed by multiple city bureaus, including the Portland Water Bureau, Portland Bureau of Transportation, Bureau of Development Services and Portland Police Bureau, among others.
In a statement, the city said it does not anticipate major service disruptions:
"The City of Portland respects the right of union members to strike and will continue the work of trying to come to an agreement with DCTU on the outstanding issues. However, city leaders have been preparing for several weeks to continue delivering essential services to the community, and to minimize delays with services, in the event of a strike. The city does not anticipate major interruptions to core city services and is prepared in the event DCTU represented members decide to go on strike."
Mediation between the two parties will continue.
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