Victory at Last! Page 3
March-April 2013 Milestones: Schwarz retires after 24 years 2013 Legislative Education Day Budget proposal robs seniors to pay for schools PLAN Legislative Priorities
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Budget proposal robs seniors to pay for schools
National Federation of Nurses Affiliates with AFT
Kitzhaber proclaims Classified Employees Week
Member Benefits update
Federation News Vol. 13, No. 1 March-April 2013 Federation News is published six times annually by AFTOregon, AFT, AFL-CIO, 7035 SW Hampton Street, Tigard, Oregon 97223. David Rives, President Belinda Reagan, Executive Vice-President Rodger Gamblin, Secretary Ruth Kosto, Treasurer Louise Currin, Vice-President Political Action VICE-PRESIDENTS Vickie Brumit John Copp Kelly Cowan Ed Degrauw Deborah Hall Bryce Peake Larry Reaney Katie Stofer Steve Wojcikiewicz Joel Yoder LIAISONS (without vote) Val Jack, Retiree Chapter Elex Tenney, Local 5017, Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Tim Stoelb, Local 6732, Oregon School Employees Association David Cecil, Chief of Staff Jillian Smith, Managing Editor
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Milestones Schwarz retires after 24 years as AFT-Oregon Executive Director AFT-Oregon Executive Director, Richard Schwarz has retired after a distinguished 34-year career with AFT. During his 24-year tenure as Executive Director, he oversaw the state federation’s ascent from a small union in financial dire straits, to today’s status as the third largest union in Oregon. “We’re well recognized in Legislature and Labor as a thoughtful and open-minded organization, and I think we’ve come a long way. But, the work is never-ending. And the work is a tremendous consumer. I think I’ve given as much as anyone could in moving AFT programs toward the vision established,” he said. Schwarz began his AFT career as a Field Representative in Wisconsin charged with the task of creating a new state federation, the Wisconsin FNHP, from the ground up. “I organized locals for charter into the state federation, set up their founding convention, office, and handled contract enforcement,” he said. He joined the AFT national staff in 1979 as an Assistant Director, Health Care Organizing. For two years, he traveled the Schwarz celebrated his retirement with country overseeing organizing campaigns, staff at a staff luncheon on his last day, had the sole responsibility of organizing February 28, as AFT-Oregon Executive about a dozen or so Locals, from the Director. Schwarz was unaware that over 75 people were expected to attend a “surprise” campaign, to governing documents, to retirement party, hosted by AFT-Oregon on settlement of the first contract. March 16, 2013. (Photo by Susan Miller) In 1981, he took a job as a Field Representative for the then Oregon Federation of Teachers, but his ties with AFT national were still as strong as ever. In addition to his duties at the state federation, he was sent by AFT national to service health care locals in the San Francisco area. By 1984, he was back under the AFT staff umbrella, as an Assistant Director in the Organizing Department, again coordinating organizing campaigns around the country, in addition to managing the annual AFT health care professional issues conference. He also played a part in the changing National Labor Relations Board rules of the time. “I achieved a bargaining order based on unfair labor practices committed by the employer in organizing,” said Schwarz, who considers the order one highlight in his career. “It was later affirmed by U.S. D.C. Court of Appeals. One of the three judges on the panel was Ruth Bader Ginsberg.” In 1988, at the AFT convention, Bob Bates, AFT Western Regional Director, and Phil Kugler, AFT Director of Organizing, approached Schwarz about an assignment in Oregon. Nurses at Kaiser Permanente had reached a stalemate in contract negotiations and were headed out on strike. “I was assigned to manage the strike and arrived about two or three days into the campaign. It lasted 58 days, and when we finally settled the contract, 93 percent of nurses were still active on the picket line. It’s still considered the longest health care strike in Northwest history,” said Schwarz. According to Schwarz, two months after the strike he received a letter from OFT President Kathy Schmidt, who was also President of Local 5017, then called Oregon Federation of Nurses. “We had Continued on Page 6
OSU Research Assistants choose CGE for second time! OSU research assistants have overwhelmingly designated AFT Local 6069, Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE) as their union representative in an election conducted by the Employment Relations Board (ERB). Inclusion of research assistants doubles the CGE bargaining unit to some 1,700, covering all OSU graduate employees. Graduate employees teach and assist in teaching undergraduate and graduate courses and perform valuable research in science, engineering, humanities, and many other fields. “This is a historic victory for graduate employees at Oregon State! For too long a significant number of graduate teaching and research assistants have been denied their rights as workers,” said Wren Keturi, Local 6069 (CGE) President. “This election affirms their rights as workers and affirms their choice for union representation,” she added. Success comes after a protracted struggle for representation, and marks the second time these employees chose CGE. In 2012, a significant majority of the unrepresented OSU graduate employees designated CGE as their union representative. The union, which is an affiliate of AFT-Oregon and its national union, the American Federation of Teachers, already represented most graduate employees at the university. The OSU administration refused to voluntarily recognize the employees into the existing CGE bargaining unit, arguing that they were not public employees. On January 4, 2013, the ERB ruled that they were public employees and ordered an election. In response to the argument raised by the University’s attorney that collective bargaining between the University and the petitioned-for graduate assistants would be difficult or impossible, the ERB wrote this: “… there is nothing in the record to indicate that what is working at the University of Oregon would not work at OSU. Collective Bargaining is a dynamic process that is suitable to a wide range of work environments.” “It feels empowering to see the system work for the people,” said Bèatrice Moissinac, RA, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “This shows that with enough determination, a small group can work to make a better community for everyone.”
PHOTO ABOVE: Local 6069 (CGE) members and AFTOregon staff, From Left: Matt Loewen, Rob Hess, Bèatrice Moissinac, Wren Keturi, Mindy Crandall, John Osborne, Sarah Burke, Danny Ritter, Ashley Bromley. (All photos by Matt Loewen, Local 6069, CGE)
Wren Keturi, Local 6069 (CGE) President was all smiles after an Employment Relations Board vote tally determined that OSU Research Assistants chose CGE as their union representative.
COVER and PHOTO ABOVE: In Celebration, CGE members and supporters burst into a chorus of “Solidarity Forever” in the ERB parking lot.
2013 AFT Legislative Education Day Members share effects of continued budget cuts “My introduction classes at the U. of O. are so full, it’s standing room only for many students,” Jane Cramer, a professor in the University of Oregon Political Science Department told Sen. Lee Beyer (District 6) in a meeting during AFT Legislative Education Day on March 4, 2013, in Salem. Cramer was attending AFT Legislative Education Day for the first time as a member of AFT-Oregon’s newest Local, United Academics at the U. of O. Jeff Ewing, a Graduate Teaching Fellow (Sociology) at the U. of O. and VP Political Education, Local 3544 (GTFF), echoed Cramer’s frustration over funding shortages and the effect on members and the public education community. “Lack of funding, and rising tuition is used against us. The administration may agree to lower our graduate fees, but then argues that the decrease should count as a salary increase,” he shared with Senator Beyer. Ewing and Cramer were among the 200 participants who spent the day at Oregon’s state capitol. Falling on the same day as the Budget Committee Co-Chairs’ release of their proposed budget, the event gave members much to discuss with our elected officials. Members from both AFT-Oregon and OSEA traveled from all corners of the state, to lobby legislators on the importance of stable education funding, and show their concern for the legislature’s controversial proposal to cap PERS cost-of-living raises in order to increase funding for public education. First time attendee, Sue Miller, Local 4671 (HCU) said the experience was less intimidating than she expected. “Representative Gallegos was nice during our meeting and welcomed our ideas,” she said. “The meetings helped you to see legislators as real people,” she said.
From Left: Sen. Lee Beyer listens to concerns of AFT-Oregon members Jeff Ewing, Local 3544 VP Political Education (GTFF), and Jane Cramer, United Academics at U. of O.
From Left: Local 4671 (HCU) members Carol Conner, President, and Linden Becker with Rep. Ben Unger and members of OSEA, Local 6732.
Oregon’s Legislature is in full-swing AFT-Oregon has again teamed with AFT Local 6732 (OSEA) under the Political and Legislative Action Network to develop a list of priorities for the 2013 Legislature. The following is a summary of where members stand on issues important to members. To download a copy, visit: www.aftoregon.org.
Where We Stand
K-12 Budget: In November, Governor Kitzhaber released his proposed budget calling for $6.15 billion for K-12 education. Additionally he proposed that potential PERS savings would result in $253 million additional dollars for K-12. Then in early March we saw the release of the 2013-2015 Co-Chairs Budget from Ways and Means that called for a K-12 funding level of $6.75 billion - $6.55 billion from the General Fund and $200 million in PERS savings and adjustments. However, when you take a closer look two things become clear – one, after inflation, these proposals are less that the crisis budget that school districts currently face; two the PERS reforms are not actually savings, but instead a cut in current and future benefits for our retirees. We must fight for the funding that our K-12 schools need, an increase above the $6.55 billion the cochairs proposed. Community College Funding: The Governor’s proposed budget for the community college support fund includes $428 million for the 2013-15 biennium. The Co-Chairs Budget left this number stagnant, however Senator Devlin and Representative Buckley gave us some room to move the number higher when they mentioned that the $428 million was a starting point. While AFTOregon realizes that this is an increase over the community colleges’ 2011-13 funding level of $395 million, it is still below the 2007-09 budget and well below the $510 million that AFT-Oregon believes we need to fund our community colleges. Higher Education Funding: State General and Lottery funds for OUS are proposed to be $737.1 million, a six percent increase over the 2011-2013 biennium. Additionally, as outlined in the Co-Chairs Budget, the Governor’s number is a minimum, a place to start. Both the Governor and the Co-Chairs Budget does not propose enough funding to counter the amount of state support that has been cut over the years. Over the last five years at the University of Oregon, in-state tuition has increased from $5,526 to $7,277 per year, about a 32% increase. Out-of-state tuition has gone up about twice as fast. PERS Reform: The latest of many attacks on the
Public Employees Retirement System would limit recipients cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) paid to retirees. There are, of course, many other threats to a secure retirement, making PERS one of the main priorities for AFT-Oregon this legislative cycle Tuition Equity: More commonly known as the Dream Act, Tuition Equity took its first step towards passage with a hearing in the House in February and now heads to the Oregon Senate. AFT-Oregon believes that Tuition Equity is the right thing to do for the youth of Oregon. We must expand educational opportunities to our youth who have grown up in Oregon and attended Oregon Public Schools. Without Tuition Equity these students would be forced to pay out-of-state tuition at a rate three times higher than that of other Oregonians. University Governance: February 7th marked the first Senate hearing of the session on institutional boards. There are a lot of details to come on institutional boards as the process moves to include PSU, University of Oregon and now Oregon State. The process is open to amendments, and it is expected that we will see a wide variety of proposals from locally elected boards to poison pills to the bill. AFT-Oregon is advocating for a strong statewide system of universities. Achievement Compacts: There has been a lack of opportunities for involvement of faculty, educators, and staff in the development of higher education achievement compacts and their goals. In order for Oregon to focus its education system on increasing student success and completion, educators have to be involved in the design and implementation of changes to the system. Like they are in the K-12 compacts, we need faculty and staff from community colleges and universities to be engaged in the achievement compact process if we intend a positive, ongoing transformation of our system of education. Revenue Reform: Oregon will struggle with our budget until we solve the problem by having a serious conversation around revenue reform. In order to fully fund our priorities, we must bring more money into the state. One piece of this conversation is corporate tax breaks. The State of Oregon currently gives away $32 billion in tax breaks every two years—that’s an increase of $3.4 billion (12%) in just the past few years.
Members speak out against funding schools on backs of PERS retirees AFT-Oregon members are speaking out after state budget committee co-chairs Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, and Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, released a budget proposal that increases much needed funding for K-12 schools for the first time in years. The co-chairs called for “…Oregonians from all walks of life to join in the effort required to revitalize our schools and give our kids and our teachers the resources they need to thrive.” But, to acquire additional funding, the proposal robs those who serve our kids and provide public services, as $455-million would come from limiting cost-of-living raises for PERS retirees and “recalculating” PERS benefits. Public employees and retirees have suffered the brunt of budget cuts due to the economic downturn. Meanwhile, other corporations are lining up to receive the same tax break
deal given to Nike during an emergency legislative session in December. President Rives told KGW News, “I was first excited to see the co-chairs understand that they really need the funding, and then it turned to disappointment...because they’re doing it on the backs of hard-working retired Oregonians,” he said. “This is an outrage. The state is taking this guaranteed benefit away from the very people who take care of Oregon’s children in our schools -- teach them, feed them, protect them and keep their school clean -- and individuals who keep our state
running,” said Val Jack, AFTOregon Retirees President, and former President and member of Local 111 (PFSP). The proposal increases the cap on cost-of-living raises to $36,000 in income, over Governor Kitzhaber’s idea of $24,000. Legal counsel has said the plan may be illegal, which means after costly tax-payer funded litigation, the cap would be declared
unconstitutional and schools wouldn’t see a dime of the promised monies. Coinciding with the release of the cochairs’ proposed budget, members were in Salem to recommend to legislators ways in which to “find” money to increase funding for schools and services. They suggested ideas promoted by Our Oregon, who worked with 10 organizations to identify $700-million in funding the state could use to preserve Oregon’s public education and other vital services. These ideas range from restructuring taxes and deductions in a fair and equitable way; to reducing middle management, enforcing tougher standards on outside contractors, and going after unpaid taxes; to tapping half of the available “rainy day” funds. For more information, visit: www.ouroregon.org.
staff to accommodate the growing federation. Under his watch in the last two decades, six new locals were added, and others expanded. He also worked closely with staff and leadership in both AFT-Oregon and the Oregon Education Association to end Bill Sizemore’s abuse of Oregon’s initiative process and attacks on public employees with a successful jury verdict in 2002 which found Sizemore and his entity, Oregon Taxpayers United guilty of Fraud and Racketeering. The suit led to reform of the ballot initiative process in the state. Schwarz lamented that a lot had changed since his first day on the job with AFT.
“We’ve gone from an age where employers provided benefits and pensions to their workers, to corporations and states raiding employee pensions. This has created an atmosphere that forces onto individuals things that have traditionally been part of the “social contract.” And, this behavior has greatly eroded the concept of fair dealing, and relations between employer and employee.” As for the future, he said, “I’m going to reintroduce myself to my wife Judy. I may get back into writing, and get my golf game back on track. And, I’d like to explore opportunities to serve as a trainer or arbitrator.”
SCHWARZ RETIRES: Continued from Page 2 worked together on the strike campaign, and she asked if I would consider applying for the position of OFT’s first Executive Director,” said Schwarz. Schwarz began as OFT Executive Director in February, 1989 and quickly learned he had his work cut out for him in helping to grow the state federation. “OFT was having financial difficulties, generated by an unfunded staff assistance program,” he said. “My first priority was to restore financial stability, and I’m proud to say I accomplished that in the first two years.” He began to develop programs, so staff could
be hired to fulfill state federation objectives. “In the early years, there was myself, one secretary, and a field representative working at .6 time. In those days, it wasn’t unusual for me to be bargaining as many as eight or nine contracts at one time,” he noted. By the mid-1990’s, OFT had undergone two name changes, strategic planning and staff growth to represent today’s AFT-Oregon structure. Schwarz hired additional field representatives and program staff in the areas of communications, member benefits, political and legislative affairs. He also increased the administrative
National Federation of Nurses Affiliates with AFT AFT influence in Oregon has taken another giant step forward with affiliation of the National Federation of Nurses (NFN). The agreement expands AFT ranks in the state to over 40,000 members. “The NFN decision is a vote of confidence in the AFT as a voice for professionals,” said AFT President Randy Weingarten. “The NFN is the largest independent union of nurses, and we are delighted they have chosen to become part of our family of shared interests and professional values. Over the last few years, our union has been through the crucible of recession-squeezed budgets and political attacks. But we have emerged stronger, and this partnership only adds to our capacity to work with the communities we serve.” The growth adds to the AFT status within the Oregon AFL-CIO as the largest affiliate. AFT overall ranks as the third largest union in the state. The NFN is currently comprised of 34,000 members in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Ohio. The affiliation agreement maintains the organization’s autonomy and structure, and provides substantial resources for growth and development of the NFN’s membership. NFN’s constituents will continue membership in their state and national organizations, as well as in the American Nurses Association.
Kitzhaber proclaims Classified Employees Week Governor Kitzhaber proclaimed March 4-8, 2013, Classified Employees Week in Oregon. Members kicked off the event by attending AFT Legislative Education Day at the capitol on Monday, March 4. The event recognizes classified employees and their dedication to serving Oregon’s kids in Oregon’s public schools. “I’m just ecstatic that Governor Kitzhaber, the state of Oregon and the institutions we work in publicly acknowledged classified employees during this week,” said Deborah Hall, President of Local 3922 (PCCFCE). “It sure is a good feeling knowing that the hard work, long hours, and years of dedicated service to our students, schools and communities is noticed, acknowledged, and respected. Classified - show YOUR pride!”
“Teacher for a Day” gives Rives opportunity to connect with members “Teacher for a Day” in Portland Public Schools provided AFT-Oregon President David Rives with the opportunity to meet Local 111 (PFSP) members at Roosevelt High School, and observe their daily routine at a K-12 school. Public leaders were invited to spend time in a classroom with teachers and educational assistants. “The goal of the program is to give public leaders a better understanding of the daily challenges our schools face, including the continued decline in classified positions in the schools and its effect on students,” said Rives, who holds a position on the Oregon Education Investment Board. “It’s important for those serving in Salem to see the “human aspect” of public education when deciding on student assessment measures, or determining funding levels for our schools.” Caton Lyles, a Special Education Assistant was one member who Rives observed would work with students in the class as needed, but was not assigned AFT-Oregon David Rives visits with to work solely with a specific teacher or Leina’ala Slaughter, Vice Principal classroom. “My job is to work with kids Secretary, Roosevelt High School. who can be disruptive in class,” said Lyles. Slaughter is a member of Local 111 “I assist in all classrooms, and go where I (PFSP), and one of the members Rives encountered while volunteering in the am called.” 2013 “Teacher for a Day” event. “In addition to teachers, it was great to see the prominent role that classified members play in providing a quality educational experience for students,” said Rives. “Lyles and other education assistants help to maintain a peaceful classroom environment for the teacher and students. They are also there to help when a student needs extra help with a lesson, without disruption for others in the class.” Roosevelt High School, which had struggled for decades in graduation rates, received a bump in assistance in recent years. In 2010, the school was awarded a $7.7-million federal grant under an Obama administration package to help reverse chronic low achievement through federally mandated strategies. The school is also one of three area high schools that will undergo an extensive renovation, thanks to the generous $482-million bond measure approved by Portland voters in November 2012.
Federation News AFT-Oregon aft, afl-cio Find the link to become a fan of AFT-Oregon’s fanpage on facebook: www. aft-oregon.org
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Mark your calendar March 21-24 AFT PSRP Conference, Minneapolis, MN March 25-29 Spring Break April 12, 14 AFT-Oregon Executive Council Meeting April 12-14 AFT-Oregon Convention, Sunriver April 28 Worker Memorial Day May 27 Memorial Day (office closed) July 4 Fourth of July (office closed)
AFT Mortgage Program now with Wells Fargo 5 Reasons to use AFT+ Mortgage
1. Our union Mortgage Program has helped 200,000 members, providing over $38 billion in mortgages to help members buy or refinance their homes. 2. Unique union-member-only mortgage assistance to help members make their mortgage payments when unemployed, recently disabled, on strike or on lock out through interest free loans and grants. Our union mortgage program has provided over $9.3 million to help members keep their loans current and stay in their homes. 3. $500 gift card given to each member who buys a new home or refinances through our program. 4. Help for first-time home buyers who maybe unable to be approved under conventional mortgage programs. Plus, members who are first-time buyers can apply for an additional $500 Welcome To Your First Home Award. 5. Your children and parents are also eligible to use your unique union mortgage program. Visit: UnionPlus.org/Mortgage1 or call 1-800-848-6466 to speak to a mortgage counselor.
Why AT&T… Since CREDO Mobile has launched advertising campaigns attacking AT&T, many union activists have raised questions about why we offer union member discounts on wireless service with AT&T instead of CREDO.
Three reasons to choose AT&T: 1. AT&T is the one and only nationwide unionized wireless carrier, with some 45,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) working as technicians, customer service representatives and retail store personnel. And union members receive a 15% Union Plus discount off regular AT&T wireless plans. 2. AT&T remains neutral during organizing campaigns 3. CWA President Larry Cohen says, “For progressives who care about workers’ rights, AT&T is the clear choice for wireless service.”
Three reasons why CREDO isn’t all it claims to be: While CREDO does promote itself as the politically progressive alternative for wireless service, you should be aware that: 1. CREDO is a non-union company that repackages and resells Sprint wireless service -- a nonunion competitor of AT&T. 2. According to CWA, Sprint aggressively opposes union organizing and has a long record of outsourcing significant parts of the work it performs, which has led to lower pay and worse benefits for its workers. 3. CREDO does not financially support any workers’ rights or labor organizations.