Letter To Council re: Layoffs.

Members, The below letter was submitted to the Mayor and City Council members on Monday, November 27, 2023.

Mayor Wheeler and Commissioners,

Three weeks ago, the Bureau of Development Services’ outgoing Director, Rebecca Esau, announced layoffs at the bureau after more than a year of well-observed macroeconomic forces driving down the permit revenue upon which the bureau depends for its operations.

On November 1, CPPW requested to meet with City Human Resources and BDS officials to bargain to help mitigate the effects of the revenue shortfalls not just on our members but on all staff who might be affected.

We finally met with officials of the City’s Labor Relations and HR on November 21. In that meeting Labor Relations presented us with information on the nine CPPW members that BDS planned to lay off, beginning the notification process the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. In that meeting Labor Relations was unable or unwilling to answer any questions of substance regarding how the layoffs were determined and whether any managers were being laid off. Labor Relations claimed that BDS had made all of the decisions. Labor Relations was unwilling or unable to provide us with additional information on whether contractors or temporary employees were released first, or whether any attempts had been made to protect seniority, all items required under HRAR 7.06 Layoffs & Recall.

The CPPW consists of over 700 Analysts, Financial Analysts, Coordinators, Administrative Specialists, Technology Business Representatives and Multimedia Specialists. These people have years of deep, expert knowledge of how our bureaus and programs work. The City of Portland is about to go through some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and challenges, and CPPW members are eager and excited to contribute collaboratively in helping the City be successful. We think our members, and the members of the rest of the City’s organized workforce have a lot to offer in helping BDS through this period of uncertainty.

At this time we are writing to remind you that PECBA makes layoffs a mandatory subject of bargaining under the post-election, pre contract status quo. Our City colleagues in other unions have contracts requiring bargaining in this situation and have informed you of their insistence to bargain about these matters. We strongly encourage our elected representatives to direct BDS and City HR to come to the table with CPPW and the other unions to work collaboratively on a path forward that minimizes the impact on our most precious resource, our people.

Our members have a number of ideas that can be used in combination in order to reduce the impact of the financial shortfalls. Frankly, we are incredulous that these do not seem to have been discussed in any of the communications from BDS management to date.

  • Voluntary retirement incentive programs.
  • Redeployment analysis and assistance for affected employees.
  • Reductions in services in alignment with reduced building and permitting activities.
  • Management span-of-control analysis that shares the burden of layoffs with management and staff.
  • Reductions in hours and voluntary furloughs.

If layoffs become absolutely necessary:

  • A COBRA safety net program to help employees retain their health insurance.
  • Enhanced wellness and mental health services.
  • Job placement assistance with other public entities.

Of course, any work we do now, specifically around BDS, can set the stage for healthy, collaborative work that we all may need to do in other bureaus as the City works through the challenges of the 2024-25 budget.

We look forward to meeting with you and discussing these matters in early December, 2023.


Constitution & Bylaws: Membership Review & Vote

CPPW members:

The Constitution & Bylaws Committee has completed work on drafting our formation documents for the CPPW.  This step is the precursor to elections for our officers and board members.

The Organizing Committee has received the draft Constitution & Bylaws from the Committee and approved it for review and voting by the members.

Voting will take place electronically on November 28, 29, & 30th.  You will only be permitted to vote once and a link to vote will be sent to members in good standing on November 27th after 5 PM.

To ensure you’re a member in good standing, sign a membership card electronically [ HERE ].

• Click here to review the CPPW Constitution & Bylaws in PDF format.

Comments and suggestions can be provided on the Google Docs document [ HERE ].  We will close editing on Friday, November 17.

Elections will be announced once the Constitution is adopted and the Elections Committee is formed.

Become A Member!

Join The Union

Membership is the only thing that makes a union a Union!

By law, the City of Portland Professional Workers Union must represent and advocate all persons in our bargaining unit. However, only members in good standing receive all the benefits of the union. To become a member in good standing you must complete the form confirming your membership in the union.

Membership rights and duties include:

  • Contributing dues at an amount agreed upon by the membership.
  • Having a voice through participation in union decision making, voting on the contract and officers.
  • Representing the union as an officer, steward, serving on committees.

Most importantly, membership matters. The more people who become members, the stronger our union is and the more likely we will be to win a powerful contract with fair wages, working conditions, and strong protections for all of us.

Didn’t I Already Sign A Card?

Many of  us signed cards before our May election. Those were the petition to have an election to establish the CPPW as your union, which we of course, won overwhelmingly. Those petition cards do not count as a membership card, so we are back to starting from the beginning and signing you all up as members.

Note that signing the cards will obligate one to pay dues once those are established. By becoming a member you will have input on the decision on how much those dues will be. (Currently there are no dues.)

Join the Constitution & Bylaws Committee


We need to draft a constitution & bylaws before we can conduct our elections this fall.  We want a document that has many voices of input and is patterned after known, successful constitutions of other labor organizations.  We have scheduled meetings each WED at noon.

Most of the work of this committee will be completed offline and by use of Google docs to comment and edit our working draft(s).  So the good news is that you will not always need to attend the weekly meeting.

If you can offer your help, please email the treasurer with your information so we can include you as part of the committee.

UPDATE:  The draft constitution is complete and has been submitted to the Organizing Committee for review and then a vote by the members.

Join our Discord! (No, not an argument.)

Email sucks, we all hate it. As a way of fostering better communication and collaboration, CPPW has established a Discord server for the members to use to engage in a more relaxed and chat-like way. Discord is a collaboration platform that was developed to support the gaming community. It has a more whimsical feel tha, say, Microsoft Teams, but it has all the same features, text, voice and video chat, file sharing, public and private channels.

If you feel comfortable diving right in, just go straight to The Water Cooler Channel and sign up. More info on getting started and how to Discord is available on the CPPW Discord Page.