AFSCME Members Lobby In Salem
By: Matt Hilton
Bright and early at 7:15 am Thursday, March 17th several members of the political action committee (Dave Raahahn, Linda Johnson, Jaimie Sorensen, and Claire Tranchese) and myself embarked to Salem for a day of working with the legislature in Salem concerning the cuts to OHSU’s budget.
Our first meeting took place at 9am. Several members of the legislature attended such as representative Arnie Roblan, and representative Jackie Dingfelder. Several legislative assistants also attended. (Including the chief of staff to local 328’s own adopted candidate Laurie Monnes-Anderson)
The meeting consisted of presentations by AFSCME lobbyist Ralph Groener and OHSU
provost Lesley Hallick. Their discussion focused around the impact what the Governor's
budget would have on OHSU as well as the state. One of my favorite parts of the meeting
was when Ralph started focusing on economic development for the state of Oregon thru
OHSU. For every dollar that the state invests in OHSU it's returned 27 times! (Thru grants,
contracts, etc.) OHSU fuels 2.7 billion into regional economic activity each year. OHSU is
also projected to create over 4500 stable family wage jobs over the next ten years. We
provide a huge tax base for state revenues as well. Ralph clearly showed that results like
this should be rewarded and funded, NOT CUT! Lesley did a wonderful job looking at the
negative effect the cuts would have our schools, our state's medical needs, and the future
needs of Oregonians. Claire also spoke about CDRC and the impacts to title 5 funding. It
was a great meeting!
Shortly after the meeting ended, Ralph took us up to the area where the republican
members of the house have their offices. We spoke with a quite of a few of the
representatives. Representative Donna Nelson was very impressed with Ralph's message
about economic development and wanted him to speak to a committee about it. We also
had a great time speaking with the representative Billy Dalto. He was very interested and
After meeting with the republican representatives we headed to the house to watch the
session convene. After spending some time there, we left to catch a quick lunch across the
street at Willamette University's impressive cafeteria. On the way back from lunch Ralph
introduced us to Representative Bill Garrard.
After that we had some time to kill before our next meeting at 3:00 PM. Several PAC
members headed to the lobby to see the presentations put on for OHSU day. Ralph was
kind enough to take me to Senator Frank Shields office. I was able to see my friend Tim
Smith who was during an internship there. (Tim is also a brother-in law to one of our
AFSCME members) We had a good conversation about OHSU, the governor's budget cuts,
and AFSCME. After we finished talked, I returned to the lobby to find the rest of the PAC.
After everyone met up, we ended up in basement café/coffee house of the legislature to
talk about our strategy. It had became clear in our first meeting that the talking point
about economic development was a very big deal to a lot of the people that we had talked
to. As we were discussing our plan Republican party chairman Kevin Mannix stopped by
our table to say hello. After a few minutes of talking Ralph invited him to attended our
As 3pm arrived many people showed up including Representative Greg Smith,
Representative Chuck Riley (whose wife is Professor Katherine Riley in public health),
Representative Mary Nolan, Representative Larry Galizio, and other legislative aides for
representatives, and senators unable to make the meeting. (My friend Tim was there to for
Senator Shields) The meeting went extremely well. Representative Smith was so
impressed that he requested Lesley and Ralph testify before his committee that he chairs
about OHSU in terms of economic development. Kevin Mannix also decided to take Ralph
up on his offer and attended the entire meeting and remarked that he felt it was very
important that people got our message.
Ralph and Lesley in addition to their being invited to speak to some committees, it was
also decided that it would be beneficial to have them speak with all 4 caucus of the
legislature as well.
After the meeting we made our way over to the Mission Mill Museum. This was an event
Hosted by AFSCME Council 75 for all members of the Oregon Legislature to meet AFSCME
members. We had a fantastic turn out! Several of our members came. Our other local
AFSCME staff (Frank Vehafric and Diane Lovell) were able to attend, as well as staff and
members of other locals, and some AFSCME organizers.
I was able to meet AFSCME council 75 President Gary Gillespie, and the Executive Director
for Council 75 Ken Allen.
A really cool thing that happened to me at the reception was that I was able to meet
representative Riley's legislative assistant. We had meet before some time ago when our
political action committee was interviewing candidates to decide whom to adopt for the
legislative race last election. (She was his campaign manager back then) While the local
decided to adopt Laurie Monnes-Anderson, obviously representative Riley still ran a
successful campaign and was elected as well. We recognized each other and had a great
talk! I congratulated her doing a great job on Riley's successful campaign, and she was
impressed with our local's PAC.
Some other people great people that I got to see that night included: Dan Gardner
(Oregon Labor Commissioner), Representative Deborah Boone, Representative Billy Dalto,
Representative Mitch Greenlick, Representative Chuck Riley, Representative Arnie Roblan,
Representative Diane Rosenbaum, Representative Brad Witt, Senator Richard Devlin, and
Senator Kurt Schrader.
It was a great evening spent mingling, and talking with people about OHSU and AFSCME.
The food served was delicious, and they even had green beer for St. Patrick's Day! After a
few hours, we headed back to Portland ready for bed after a long day of hard work. (But it
was REALLY fun hard work)