PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Portland City Council voted on Wednesday to resolve an unfair labor practice lawsuit brought against the City of Portland by the Portland Police Association and the Police Command Officers’ Association in response to the city’s approval for an independent community police oversight board.
The pending lawsuit, which was sent to the employment relations board on Nov.19, 2020, was filed shortly after 82% of Portland voters agreed to amend Portland’s charter and create a new oversight board with the power to review complaints brought against PPB and discipline its officers. According to the suit, the oversight board violated Oregon labor laws by refusing to “bargain collectively in good faith” with the Portland police union and its labor bargaining association.
The unfair labor practice claim was mostly resolved in April of 2021, when Oregon lawmakers passed Senate Bill 621. The bill amended the state’s labor laws, allowing for voter-approved community oversight boards to discipline law enforcement officers without a collective bargaining process.
Portland’s Chief Deputy City Attorney Heidi Brown explained at the council meeting that the Portland Police Association and the Police Command Officers’ Association have both agreed to drop the case, if the city council signs a letter of agreement stating that the city will follow collective bargaining laws.
“This agreement simply requires the city to follow the law regarding collective bargaining,” Brown said. “In exchange for us agreeing to follow the law regarding collective bargaining and acknowledging that that law exists, and providing notice to the union of when we intend to implement the oversight board, they will dismiss an unfair labor practice complaint.”
City Commissioners Carmen Rubio, Rene Gonzalez, Mingus Mapps and Dan Ryan unanimously approved the agreement. Mayor Ted Wheeler was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.