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After decades of struggle, City recreation staff to receive fair wages
(Portland, OR) –
After years of accepting wages lower than other City workers, recreation staff working for the City of Portland have a reason to celebrate. The Portland City Council will vote this Wednesday (February 17, 2016) on an agreement between Portland Parks & Recreation and LiUNA Local 483 to bring into the union and provide fair pay and benefits to many recreation employees who perform work as “casual”, part-time, or seasonal employees.
“I’ve seen too many Parks employees struggle with low wages, unable to afford their own housing or transportation. These staff members kept our community centers running even if it meant they couldn’t afford to see a doctor or had to go on food stamps,” said Will Ziegler, a staff member at Mt. Scott Community Center. “It’s time that everyone who works for the City receives a living wage.”
Under this agreement, the City will only use union-represented employees to perform a large body of work now often done by casual employees. It also creates clear lines between staff positions. The bureau has requested in their FY2016-17 budget to fund these positions on an ongoing basis, to ensure recreation service levels aren’t reduced.
The City will also recognize the rights of many of the recreation staff currently classified as “casual” employees to form a union. Once a majority show support for joining a union, an additional classification of Recreation Support Staff will have the ability to collectively bargain their wages, rights, and working conditions.
“Cities should be in the business of uplifting residents, and building a community and economy that works for everyone,” said Mayor Charlie Hales. “I am proud that we’ve shown that the City of Portland is committed to fair labor practices with this Laborers’ Local 483 agreement. It will bring $15 an hour wages and job security to around 130 of previously unrepresented low-wage staff in our community centers.”
“This is a significant achievement by parks management and our labor partners, collaborating to settle a longstanding dispute. It provides great opportunities for more equitable and fair wages for our workers. I look forward to the City Council supporting this agreement,” says Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz, a longtime supporter of increased wages for City employees.
“I want to thank our labor partners, management team and our Parks employees for coming together on this defining agreement,” says Mike Abbaté, Parks Director. “This shows that by working together, we can be an employer of choice while better serving our community.”
The ordinance will come before the City Council at 10:30am on Wednesday, February 17th. Once approved, Council will consider ongoing funding for around 130 positions through the City’s budget process. If ongoing funding is approved through that process, this will ensure more Parks employees receive living wages and will create additional opportunities for fulltime work.
“We’re looking to the Council’s leadership in the coming budget process to ensure funding for this agreement. All City workers deserve a living wage,” said Wesley Buchholz, President of Laborer’s Local 483.
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