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What's New at AFSCME 189
Nominations for Office

Posted On: Oct 17, 2014 (09:48:34)

      The Nominations for AFSCME local 189 officers will take place at the rescheduled General Membership Meeting on November 18th 2014. The meeting will start at 6:15pm. Nominations will take place for President, Vice President, Chief Steward, Secretary-Treasurer, Recording Secretary, and Communications Editor. There wil also be nominations for all Chapter Chair positions. 

The November General Membership meeting has been Rescheduled

Updated On: Oct 17, 2014 (09:47:00)

    The November 2014 General Membership Meeting has moved to Tuesday, November 18th at 6:15PM. The November E-board meeting falls on Veterans day and has been cancelled and the previously scheduled General Membership meeting would have been 2 days before Thanksgiving so it was decided to combine both meetings on a day which may be more convenient to members.  

AFSCME Council 75 Endorsements for the November 2014 election

Updated On: Oct 17, 2014 (09:29:00)
  FEDERAL OFFICES   U.S
August General Membership Meeting Cancelled

Posted On: Aug 20, 2014 (20:15:34)

The August General Membership Meeting which would have occurred on Tuesday, August 26 has been cancelled. Usually attendance is low during the summer months. The meeting will resume in September.

Local 189 Thwarts near privatization of Water bureau

Posted On: Jun 14, 2014 (08:18:56)

Local 189 celebrated a big victory during Oregon's May primary election when a ballot measure that would have moved the Portland Water Bureau (PWB) out from the city's umbrella and under the auspices of a shaky-at-best new water district was soundly defeated by a 2.5-to-1 margin.

But it didn't "just happen." The election results were the culmination of efforts by the local union to protect its members and their jobs, the result of a coordinated campaign that involved a wide variety of community partners.

For years, says Local 189 Vice President Rob Martineau, the PWB has operated under an economic model that features relatively low base rates and consumption rates that increase as usage increases. It's a model that's both fair to average users and promotes conservation.

It is not, however, a model that sits well with large corporate water consumers. "They" — a microchip manufacturer, a local bottling company and such — were the primary funders of what became Ballot Measure 26-156, which would have peeled off the PWB into a so-called utility district overseen by a seven-member board. Not coincidentally, to be eligible for election on the board, you couldn't be involved with the current PWB or the City of Portland in virtually any way. While the new district wouldn't have technically been "private," Martineau says the built-in restrictions on who could and couldn't sit on the board would have essentially made it a private enterprise.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows, and the corporations found an odd partner match in some community groups opposed to the federal mandate that the city must eventually cover the PWB reservoirs, a longstanding battle between the city and Uncle Sam.

"So the chief petitioners both had vested interests," says Martineau. "The corporations, looking to save money long-term, supplied the financing. The reservoir people, who basically thought they'd form the new district and thumb their nose at the federal government, provided the energy. Even so, it took $150,000 in paid signature gatherers for them to barely qualify the measure for the ballot."

Local 189 President Mark Gipson notes the signature gatherers approached people with a simple, attractive — but for most people, erroneous — message: "Do you want to save on your water bill? Sign here.

"In reality, the new venture would have raised base rates and lowered consumption rates, costing the average citizen more money."

Gipson also notes opponents claimed the PWB had employees operating outside of the "core mission" of the agency. Translated, that meant opposition to the PWB's "green infrastructure" program.

"Not everything we do is with sewer pipes any more," explains Martineau, a Water Operations Mechanic and crew leader at the Water Bureau. "We do 'gray infrastructure,' which is your traditional pipes and storm drains, but we also work with environmental groups on 'green infrastructure' — bio-swales, tree plantings, programs and projects that are both good for the environment and lower the city's investment costs. But the measure supporters tried to say those kind of jobs weren't really part of the Bureau's mission."

Attacking the "green" programs, however, turned out to be a costly mistake by measure supporters. Led by the Audubon Society, a number of environmental groups quickly joined the coalition against Measure 26-156, as did other groups such as the League of Women Voters.

Martineau, who is also the Local 189 Political Action Chair, reached out to other Portland-area AFSCME local unions and other labor unions, unifying labor opposition to the measure. Council 75 Strategic Alliances Coordinator Khanh Le worked to bring about other community support. "This was a natural bridge to environmental partners in particular," says Le. "We saw potential job loss; they saw potential environmental harm. We ended up in a win-win situation, and it was a good example of sticking together for a six-to-seven month campaign and seeing it through to the end."

Time, energy and money were the keys to victory. Local 189 members canvassed voters. They put out hundreds of yard signs against the measure. They worked the phone banks. They packed neighborhood meetings about the subject. And they spent money — both Council 75 money and local money. "The Council really came through for us on money," says Gipson. "They pledged $40,000, then came through with an additional $20,000 at the end. Unfortunately, it's a reality that you need to spend some money on a campaign of this sort."

"We had spent $10,000 of our own money, and we decided to pony up for another $10,000," he said. "That money was directly responsible for TV ads airing the last weekend before the election, which was key as a lot of late ballots came in. But it was great to see those TV commercials on Saturday and Sunday and know they were there because of our local." Gipson and Martineau both noted that the roughly 800 Local 189 members who aren't Water Bureau employees wholeheartedly supported the local's actions and expenditures.

"There were no 'turf wars' internally," said Gipson, who also works at the PWB as a water meter technician. "Everybody was on the same page." Gipson says he sensed a shift in voters' attitude toward the measure the last weekend of canvassing, but understood "nothing was concrete." But voter attitudes were in fact changing. Portland residents also came to see how stacked the new water board would be. The language was exclusionary so as to keep anyone with any connection to the City of Portland, the PWB, any budget committee or citizen review board and so on from being eligible to run.

"Basically, if you had any knowledge or experience with the city and/or the Water Bureau, you were ineligible to run for the new board," said Martineau. "Personally, for example, I would have to retire and then sit out six years before I could run. The Portland sewer system has a net worth of $12 billion; the water system, $8 billion. So you're talking about an entity of $20 billion that was to be operated specifically by people with no know-how of how to do so. In the end, I think voters understood that."

Neither Gipson nor Martineau expected the final margin to be as large as it was.

"It's great, though, because a large margin makes it more unlikely it'll come up again," said Gipson. "I don't think the corporate funders will want to do that again. The other group might have the energy [to try again], but they don't have any money. So hopefully, this victory will have a chilling effect on any future, similar ideas."


Posted On: May 14, 2014 (08:26:46)

Now that the new contract has been ratified the retroactive cost of living increase will included in the May 29th 2014 paycheck.This should apply to any compensable hour, including vacation, overtime, comp time paid, sick leave and regular pay. The increase will be retroactive to August 29,2013. The COLA for the 2014-2015 fiscal year effective on July 1,2014 will be an additional 2.7%.

AFSCME Council 75 endorsements for the May 2014 election

Updated On: Apr 30, 2014 (20:16:00)
DCTU contract ratified

Updated On: Apr 25, 2014 (19:18:00)

The representatives of the group of unions known as the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) has met and ratified the contract. The majority of the members have voted to accept the proposed contract.


Posted On: Apr 24, 2014 (18:51:11)

The results are in and the vote is 93% in favor of approving the tentative agreement. The DCTU representatives will meet on Friday, April 25th and add up the votes from all the unions although the two largest unions have voted to approve. The City Council will meet on April 30th and they are expected to approve the TA. There is no word as to when employees will receive their retroactive COLA which will be .9% from August 29th.


Updated On: Apr 09, 2014 (21:03:00)
Local 189 Voting Schedule

BDS 1900 Building

City Hall

Tuesday, April 15 From 7:30 to 10:00

Tuesday, April 15 from 11:00 to 1:00

Wednesday, April 16 from 2:00 to 5:30




East Precinct

Giles Lake

Thursday, April 17 from 12:00 to 1:00

Thursday, April 10th from 2:30 to 3:30



Water - Interstate

Justice Center

Thursday, April 10 from 6:30 to 9:00

Tuesday, April 15 From 10:30 to 2:30

Tuesday, April 15 from 3:30 to 5:00

Wednesday, April 16 from 7:00 to 9:00



Kerby Building – 2929 N Kerby

North Precinct

Thursday, April 10 from 9:00 to 10:00

Monday, April 14 from 8:30 to 10:00



Portland Building

Printing & Distribution

Monday, April 14 from 7:30 to 5:30

Thursday, April 17th from 3:30 to 6:00

Tuesday, April 15 From 7:30 to 10:00




Property and Evidence

Revenue Bureau

Thursday, April 10th from 11:30 to 2:00

Wednesday, April 9 from 11:30 to 2:00



Sandy River Station – Head works

Survey Field Office – 1405 N River

Thursday, April 17th from 6:30 to 10:00

Monday, April 14 from 6:30 to 7:30



Water Customer Service


Monday, April 14 from 11:30 to 1:00






Voting at the AFSCME Office will be available from April 9th through April 18th.  Further dates and times may be available.  Contact Rob Wheaton at 503-412-9343 for information and scheduling.

Download: Voting Schedule.pdf

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