PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of workers employed by the City of Portland are picketing across the city for the second day in a row.
When the city and the workers’ union failed to reach an agreement late Wednesday night, city employees went on strike at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. According to the city, the failed negotiations came after 19 meetings with the Portland City Laborers.
Around 600 total employees are currently on strike, with a long line of workers formed outside the Portland Bureau of Transportation site in North Portland Friday morning.
As of Friday morning, James O’Laughlen from the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 483, said they haven’t heard anything new.
“The last I heard is we scheduled mediation for Saturday. No word other than that,” O’Laughlen said.
The city is claiming that there have been reports of “illegal” and “violent” activity from laborers.
According to a statement released by Mayor Ted Wheeler Friday morning, there have been multiple reports of the illegal activities, which wheeler calls “absolutely unacceptable.”
“While I support the rights of employees to exercise their right to strike, legally, aggressive behavior and intimidation of any form is absolutely unacceptable,” Wheeler said.
KOIN 6 reached out for comment, and was given this statement by a city spokesperson:
The city received numerous credible reports and firsthand accounts from city employees that detailed aggressive behavior such as throwing rocks, hitting vehicles with sticks and reports of physical harm during the first night. More incidents last night.
When O’Laughlen was asked about the accusations, he said that he hadn’t heard about any reports of things like that happening.
“I’ve not seen any substantiated reports to that effect,” O’Laughlen said. “What I have seen first hand and heard multiple witness accounts of is vehicles driving at unsafe speeds through our pickets, striking our members.”
O’Laughlen said that just after the picketing began Wednesday night, a worker was bumped by a Jeep and knocked over.
The city proposed a retroactive cost of living increase of 5%, plus a 1% raise for every union worker. They would give another cost of living adjustment of 5% this coming summer, along with another 1% pay raise.
The 5% cost of living adjustment is the maximum allowed by the previous contract, but the union says it’s not enough. They’re asking for a 6.5% cost of living adjustment to apply since last summer and a 3.5% raise.
During the strike, the city says transportation services will be prioritized, while several services will be on hold. City-wide street sweeping and cleaning, routine sign maintenance, bike lane repairs and pavement maintenance are some of the services on hold.
Park services are currently operating per normal, but gaps in services could include delayed trash collection, emergency response to tree issues and maintenance to lawns, flower beds and golf courses.
Sewer and stormwater services are also operating as normal.