Just because TriMet’s union has agreed to begin bargaining on the next labor contract, don’t expect the talks to go smoothly. In fact, the two sides don’t even agree on the number of changes TriMet is proposing to make.

When Amalgamated Transit Union 757 recently announced it was willing to being negotiations, it said the talks will be lengthy because TriMet is proposing around 400 changes to the contract. Not so, TriMet responded, saying the agency is only proposing 29 substantive changes. The rest of its proposals are housekeeping and other minor, noncontroversial revisions, it said.

Not so yourself, ATU 757 now says. It has released an 11-page analysis of TriMet’s proposal noting each and every word change.

“As anyone familiar with labor agreements and contracts understands, revisions made by an employer to the sentences in a single paragraph can mean sweeping changes to a number of employee rights and working conditions,” according to a union news release.

Fluoride backers pad fundraising lead

Aided by big contributions from health care organizations, the campaign in support of fluoridating Portland’s water is widening its fundraising lead over the opponents.

By early this week, Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland had reported raising more than $150,000 in support of Measure 26-151, which will appear on the May 21 special election ballot. Recent major contributions include $50,000 from CareOregon, $25,000 from Kaiser Permanente and $5,000 from the Children’s Clinic PC.

Meanwhile, the opponents only have reported raising a little more than $73,000, so far. The biggest contribution to Clean Water Portland is $10,000 from Daniel Deutsch, president of DAO Enterprises of Portland.

Political arguments link CRC opponents

Portland opponents of the Columbia River Crossing have long said it will only benefit Washington residents who work in Oregon. Now these opponents are hoping Washington residents don’t believe the Interstate 5 bridge replacement project will actually help them.

Gov. John Kitzhaber and the 2013 Legislature brushed aside the opposition and approved $450 million in state financing for the project, estimated at a little more than $3 billion. Now some of the Oregon opponents are working to prevent the Washington Legislature from making the same financial commitment, which is necessary to keep the project on track.

Even the project’s supporters admit it has problems that still need to be resolved. But at least they have consistently argued it will help residents and businesses on both sides of the river.

North of the border, the latest attack on the bridge came April 5, when Washington state Rep. Liz Pike, a Camas Republican, introduced a measure that would force her state to go back to the drawing board on the new bridge’s design.

Pike’s House Bill 2025, which picked up a dozen co-sponsors, requires the Washington Department of Transportation to prepare a new design alternative for the CRC that leaves out light rail and pushes the new bridge’s higher.

“The intent of this bill is that no further funds be spent on the current design,” Pike says.

One big requirement: Pike’s bill calls for study of a third bridge across the Columbia to ease traffic on the I-5 and Interstate 205 bridges.

Pike’s HB 2025 has been referred to House Transportation Committee. It would take effect once it was adopted.

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