OR-GOV: Oregon AFL-CIO Remains Neutral

Jesse Cornett

According to the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes, Oregon AFL-CIO's political committee met today and while they decided to take a position in some down ballot races, postponed making a decision on the Governor's race until March 2010. From Mapes:

The unions have two Democrats with a strong pro-labor record in former Gov. John Kitzhaber and former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. The delay does give Bradbury more time to try to persuade union officials. Kitzhaber has already been endorsed by one key union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and is generally regarded as the favorite to eventually win the AFL-CIO endorsement.

Let's read into this: interest groups, including labor and many other good causes, like backing friends and winners. According to my understanding after a phone call this afternoon with Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain if you are in incumbent with an over 90% voting record with the AFL, you were likely endorsed today while all others have to wait.

While the AFL-CIO understandingly tried to play this one as no big deal, they endorsed now US Senator Jeff Merkley and Governor Ted Kulongoski early in their primary races according to Mapes. So one could assume they don't think the apparent front-runner, Governor John Kitzhaber, is friendly enough to working families or he's too vulnerable to back early. I wonder which it is.

The Bradbury campaign is pleased that the Oregon AFL-CIO declined to get involved early in this race. Citing Bradbury's 97% life time AFL-CIO voting record, campaign manager Jeremy Wright said they "look forward to earning the endorsement in the spring." 

  • Just Wondering (unverified)

    So who did they endorse in the down ballot races?

  • Old Labour (unverified)

    if you are in incumbent with an over 90% voting record with the AFL, you were likely endorsed today while all others have to wait.

    Citing Bradbury's 97% life time AFL-CIO voting record, campaign manager Jeremy Wright said they "look forward to earning the endorsement in the spring.

    Why require that he be running for the same office he's held? A voting record is a voting record. I say it's a snub to Bradbury, a sign they want to go Kitz.

    Sounds like a boring one coming. If it's a Kitz-fest, then progressives need to come together and make sure he hears loud and clear what we expect of a progressive governor. No doubt he thinks that way. He just needs to feel the groundswell. Groundswell is to pols what strong drink is to an Irishman's courage!

  • John English (unverified)

    Kitzhaber has also been endorsed by the UFCW which organzied a lot of Fred Myers, Safewways ALbertsons, and some other retail. Thye are probbaly the largest private sector union in OR.

    IBEW is a major win for Kitz because the building trades are big and they are less likely than most other unions to automatically endorse Democrats, who many trades folks consider anti growth. (Think Metolius, for example.)

    The AFL-CIO endorsement is not what is used to be. FOr one thing, the Woodworkers and paper unions lost most of their membership in the 80s /early 90s with first high intrest rates and then the spotted owl issue which shut down huge tracts of federal forest land. Other industrial unions have seen sharp declines with the contuinued outsourcing of manufacturing jobs (thanks to Reagan-Bush-Billy Bob CLinton trade policies.)

    The AFl took another hit when SEIU, UFCW, Teamsters, Laborers, Carpernters, and Unite HERE left to form CHange to WIn. In reality, Change to WIn is nothing, or it is SEIU. Most of those unions now want to have nothing to do with ANdy Stern for his apparent direct dealing with emplyers like Wal Mart, putting a huge CA health care local in tusteeship, and putting himself in the middle of the ugly Unite-Here split. Most of Unite left to go a am SEIU sponsored affiliate. What is left of Unite-Here (mainly HERE) went back to AFL, I beleive.

    The big givers among OR unions are cleary the public employee unions. OEA probably is still the leader with SEIU a close second. AFSCME is a player, and AFT grew when OSEA affilaited with them.

    Kitz and BB have similarly good labor records. The question is, who is deemed better on PERS. Kitz left office right before the major PERS changes in '03 that unions still haven't forgotten, as we saw by thie bankrolling John Kroger against Greg McPherson in the '08 AG race. That was all about PERS.

    Ironically, the unionized emplyees in Kroger's Dept. of Justice despise their boss, who they see as an arrogant aloof bully.

  • Nick P. (unverified)

    The AFL-CIO doesn't serve the interests of workers. It serves the interests of itself. For the last 30 years union assets have risen while membership has plummeted. The AFL-CIO bureaucracy is much more tied to the market than to the needs of the working class.

    This isn't rhetoric. It's objective fact. Look at union official salaries, asset holdings, membership levels, and man hours lost due to strikes over the last 30 years... to say nothing of concession contract after concession contract and the now ubiquitous no strike clause.

  • LT (unverified)

    I'm not sure the AFL-CIO is as bad as Nick P. says--and I say that as someone who was once active in a campaign where labor strongly endorsed the opponent.

    I'm glad they did not endorse yet--makes for a more open primary process.

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    Nick P: this post was about the Oregon Governor's race and the decision of an influential group that works to improve the lives of tens of thousands of Oregonians. I'm sorry you misinterpreted my post as the appropriate venue to break out Lars' anti-union talking points.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Or maybe it is because neither candidate has yet to clearly communicate anything of value regarding exactly what they would do as governor of Oregon?

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    It's sort of like the birthers, you actually have to open your eyes to see it, it won't just come to you in a dream. I know that Bill has articulated as many positions on issues as possible. Kitzhaber has a pretty long record so one wouldn't have to do a lot of guessing about how he might approach issues.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Jesse, I respectfully say that you are full of it. Just because we 'guess' what Kitz might say or do doesn't cut it. The lad has to come out and communicate. So far he is running one of the biggest stealth campaigns ever. If Oregonians vote him in based on what they 'think' he will do they have only themselves to blame.

    Bradbury so far has only spoken in platitudes he has yet to actually engage. I've read his website - nada. I listened to his presentation on OB to the Eugene Downtown club or some other group - zilch. I'm waiting to hear some substantive positions rather than the same old political pablum. I may not get anything other than this and then will sit out and vote for neither.

    Oregon voters deserve, and should demand, better. the campaign is young and I remain hopeful.

  • Becky (unverified)

    All of you need to get over yourselves.

    The AFL is nothing but an old boys club and the next time you look around at the workforce you will see LOTS OF WOMEN. Who do they turn to Tom chamberlain who is such a boys boy that he barely notices (respects) women anyway. Not likely they depend on Tommy boy to help - the women who work for a living and there are lots of then are looking for a leader outside of the AFL.

    <h2>BB and Kitz served and worked well together - they are both well respected and it will just be about who runs the best campaign - Oregon can't lose.</h2>

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