LCDCC Labor Report for Sep. 2017 by Eric Sherman
Lincoln County Democratic Central Committee
Ad Hoc Committee on Labor
Monthly Report for September 2017
This report is intended to serve as a “digest” of sorts for news, events, and activities pertinent to
working people throughout Oregon and the United States in general. Activities & Events
• Earlier this month, the biennial Oregon AFL-CIO Convention was held in Bend. The labor
federation represents most Unions throughout Oregon and the convention was held to establish
policy positions, endorse candidates, and handle other business.
• Machinists Union wins opportunity for union election at Precision Castparts, one of Oregon’s
largest companies. It has historically been a largely nonunion workplace.
• IBEW Local 48 (with jurisdiction in Portland Metro area, SW Washington, Northern Oregon Coast,
Columbia Gorge) rank-and-file members rejected their negotiated contract proposal by a wide
margin. It goes back to the negotiating table and, if not modified and approved by membership, to
arbitration at the Council of Industrial Relations. Construction unions are currently in a strong
bargaining position in the Northwest.
• IBEW Local 932 (right here on the Oregon Coast) enters contract negotiations next month. Wish
Legislation to Watch (both favorable and unfavorable legislation may be listed here)
• The Oregon Legislature is out of session for the year. The main focus was on the significant
budget shortfall due in no small part to the failure of Measure 97. That aside, the big-ticket
transportation spending package (HB 2017) was the most noteworthy accomplishment of this
session and will help secure work for construction trades in the future. Following are some
legislative items that died this session but may need to be addressed again in future sessions:
• HB 3335 – Community College Degree for Apprenticeship
◦ Introduced by Rep. Jodi Hack. Would allow apprentices in training to simultaneously earn
community college credits which could be applied toward a degree. Died in Joint Ways &
Means Committee, will likely be revived in 2018 or 2019 legislative sessions.
• HB 2710 – Energy Efficient Building Codes
◦ Dead in Legislature – not the right venue for it. Executive Branch will set forth Building Code
policy (as it always has) for energy efficiency through BCD and Governor Brown’s Workgroup
on the subject.
• HB 2681 – Residential Energy Tax Credits
◦ This tax credit program fell victim to the Budget deficit and was not renewed, despite its
massive and widespread success. It will sunset in 2018 unless revived in the next Legislative
News & Editorials
• The Davis-Bacon Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation for Union construction
workers, as it mandates (among other things), a prevailing wage which is generally based on the
Union wage in a particular area. This allows Union contractor bids to remain competitive on
publicly funded projects, and also ensures that non-union contractors have to pay their employees a
fair wage if they win a bid. However, as indicated in the following article, Union membership does
not stop with wages and benefits: it is also crucial for combating unscrupulous management tactics.
• Freedom Foundation lobbyist running his mouth in the Statesman Journal:
“As has been exhaustively chronicled, the Freedom Foundation – a
nonprofit policy organization with offices in Oregon – has been battling for
three years to obtain the contact information for taxpayer-compensated
government employees. Our objective is to inform these workers of their legal
rights to opt out of union participation either partially or altogether.”
Seriously? Get the f**k out of town, Freedom Foundation. No one in their right mind would give
out personal contact information so they can get phone-spammed by dolts from anti-union
• “The U.S. Might Not Have Enough Construction Workers to Rebuild Houston After Harvey.”
◦ Two things: 1) As a construction worker, this headline translates to, “Construction Workers
Unwilling to Travel to Houston for Low-Paying Work.” 2) If we can collectively encourage our
kids to pursue careers in skilled trades – construction or otherwise – this wouldn’t be an issue.
We have a nation full of retiring pencil pushers and burgeoning video game experts.
• “After Decades of Pushing Bachelor’s Degrees, U.S. Needs More Tradespeople”
• More Union gutting introduced in Congress - “Employee Rights Act”
Eric’s Personal Comments – September 16, 2017
I am a member in good standing of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local
Union 932. I currently serve as an elected Officer on our Local’s Executive Board, as Chair of our
Northern unit Membership Development (aka organizing) Committee, as a Committee member and
Trustee of our Apprenticeship Training Program, and as a long-time apprenticeship and continuing
education classroom instructor. I am loyal to my Local Union and often disagree with the direction our
I.O. (International Office – basically the IBEW’s headquarters) wants to take us. Local 932 is small but
scrappy and we pride ourselves on that. Over the summer, we participated in handbilling activities
simultaneously at all of the Charter/Spectrum Communications offices in our jurisdiction in solidarity
with our Brothers and Sisters in IBEW Local 3 (New York City) striking for months on end due to stalled
contract negotiations. We regularly make a lot of noise in State and Regional politics. We aggressively
pursue work for our members and continually lobby public officials to push projects toward the Oregon
Coast that would benefit not only us, but union construction workers in general, and especially the
regional economy at large. NOAA’s Pacific Fleet Headquarters, Newport Hospital, Lincoln City Hospital,
a couple of massive upcoming OSU Marine Science Center projects, and others could very well be nonunion
projects without our, and other construction trades, constant pestering. On the South Coast, we
have been involved with the Jordan Cove LNG project for many years and have secured a Project Labor
Agreement (PLA) guaranteeing Union construction employment and a set of defined benefits for the
project. Obviously the project itself is highly controversial, and we are not insensitive to the
environmental concerns, but in the end there is no denying that it would be a massive influx of investment
to an otherwise severely depressed region of the State.
I won’t apologize for any of that.
What I will apologize for, however, is the behavior of some IBEW members. What on Earth am I
talking about? Well, I will link a news article at the end of this diatribe. IBEW member Johnny
Ramondetta of Local 6 (San Francisco), aka Johnny Monoxide, is a piece of shit Nazi asshole who hosts a
podcast extolling alt-right values. He was scheduled to speak in Charlottesville, Virginia prior to the
escalation of violence at that rally a while back. As Union members, it gives us a bit of an existential
crisis: do we support a member’s free speech? Or do we ostracize and boot out Nazis? Personally I don’t
think hate speech is free speech and I wouldn’t mind seeing Johnny Ramondetta on the receiving end of
some old-fashioned off-the-record Union street justice. But I’m not in that sort of position and I probably
shouldn’t advocate violence. Local 6’s Business Manager issued a statement disavowing Mr.
Ramondetta’s words and actions but failing to bring him in front of their Executive Board on charges.
At any rate, Johnny has been fired from his job and will likely be blacklisted by most of the
contractors in that jurisdiction. He’s too toxic. Unfortunately, there are many uninformed and misguided
souls in the construction trades – many of our members tend to be quite conservative. We don’t pry into
the personal political beliefs of our members, nor should we. But in my opinion, there is no room in the
IBEW, or any Union, or any Country, for hate speech, Nazis, fascists, and the like. A friend of mine
recently said, “If you’re not anti-fascist, you’re passively fascist.” I can’t help but agree.
On the bright side of things, the ILWU (Longshoremen’s Union) has long been one of the most
provocative trade unions in the country. They are participating in activities that other Unions, including
ours, need to get their act together and follow. This is no time for supplicancy. ILWU Local 10 (San
Francisco) did what IBEW Local 6 should have done and went on strike to go confront Nazis at their own
I’ll finish this off with the Declaration of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers:
Our cause is the cause of human justice, human rights, human security.
We refuse, and will always refuse, to condone or tolerate dictatorship or oppression of any kind.
We will find and expel from our midst any who might attempt to destroy, by subversion, all that we stand for.
This Brotherhood will continue to oppose communism, Nazism, and any other subversive “ism.”
We will support our God, our Nations, our Union.