Members of Laborers’ Local 483 say that budget cuts throughout the city have already been detrimental to their job numbers: They want the city to stop outsourcing jobs to inmate work crews to prevent further losses. A grievance was originally filed in 2011, but has recently resurfaced in the public eye after an inmate work crew was brought in to clean up after homeless protesters at city hall.
Employing inmate work crews costs the city a fraction of what paying union employees does, but union members say cost shouldn’t be the focus. They want the city to support workers who have jobs skills and benefits to maintain, not inmates working for minimal pay.
We’ll talk to a union member who has filed a grievance against his employer for using inmate labor for street cleaning.
Do you think union workers should be given preference over inmate work crews?
- Farrell Richartz: Member of Laborer’s Local 483, maintenance employee at Portland Bureau of Transportation