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Oregon AFL-CIO Kicks Off Convention In Bend

Union members from around the state are in Bend this weekend for the Oregon AFL-CIO’s biennial convention.  Scheduled speakers include Governor John Kitzhaber and Senator Jeff Merkley. 

Event organizers say one of the big themes this year is how unions can more effectively partner with local organizations that share common goals.

Jeff Klatke is the President of Oregon chapter of the American Federation Of State County and Municipal Employees.  He says another big topic will be Initiative Petition 9. 

That’s a yet-to-be-named proposed ballot measure that would allow public sector workers to opt out of the union as well as the obligation to pay membership dues. 

While that initiative would only affect public sector unions, Klatke says it’s essentially an attack on entire labor movement.

“Everybody’s in this together,” said Klatke. “All of the private sector unions are standing with all of the public sector unions on this.  We’re not going to let them play divide and conquer on this.”

Petitioners say paying dues should be a worker’s choice.  The signature gathering is now on hold due to legal challenges to the ballot title.  

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