Vaunted AFSCME unity breaks-down

The Oregon Council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has endorsed Barack Obama for president. The union represents employees in many Oregon jurisdictions including Benton County and the cities of Albany, Corvallis, Lebanon, Philomath and Sweet Home. Its executive board took the endorsement action Saturday in Portland.

“The union took action prior to the upcoming Oregon primary because Obama has a history of standing up and fighting for working people,” Oregon AFSCME Executive Director Ken Allen said in a statement. “In Illinois, Sen. Obama fought alongside AFSCME to keep vital public services open, including mental hospitals and prisons. He also worked to help organize thousands of workers at Resurrection Hospital, and supported card check recognition for other workers seeking to unionize in their workplace.”

He added: “He is a candidate organized labor can proudly stand behind and support.”

“I believe Obama has a proven track record of fighting for our members,” said Jack Tucker, president of AFSCME Local 2067, which represents City of Salem workers. “I also believe Obama has a much better chance of winning in November against John McCain.”

Tina Turner-Morfitt of Salem is a corrections counselor and president of a statewide local that represents corrections employees in the state prison system.

“I believe Obama can unite Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, which is what our membership within Corrections looks like,” she said. “This endorsement best reflects the thinking of our members and leaders.”

With the Obama endorsement, Oregon AFSCME joins the other biggest unions in Oregon supporting Obama in the Oregon primary, including the Oregon Education Association, the Teamsters, Service Employees International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers and others.

Allen said AFSCME plans to mail to its members and participate in other get-out-the-vote activities both for Obama and for Oregon Hosue Speaker Jeff Merkley, seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.


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