Working Families, Teamsters, Steelworkers and SEIU deliver petition and testimony to Oregon Investment Council Meeting

January 24th, 2013 by salloy

Teamsters, Steelworkers, SEIU members, and WFP supporters packed the Oregon Investment Board hearing, calling on the board to divest from KKR if KKR closes the North Portland Sealy factory.

We had a really remarkable day today at the Oregon Investment Council (OIC) meeting.  As you may know, the Steelworkers, Teamsters, SEIU, and WFP offered testimony to the OIC aimed at protecting the 128 family wage manufacturing jobs at the North Portland Sealy plant.  We challenged the state’s $3 Billion of investments in Kohlberg Kravis and Robert–the very same private equity firm that owns, and is trying to close, the Oregon Sealy plant that has been in operation since the 1940s.  Working Families also delivered a petition signed by 770 WFP supporters calling on the OIC to divest from KKR if the plant is closed.

Even though her legislative duites prevented her from being there, House Speaker Tina Kotek (D / WFP) also submitted testimony in support of the workers.  In part she said:

“I am writing to express my strong support for the actions taken by Treasurer Wheeler to reach out to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP (KKR) and Sealy Corporation to seek an alternative solution to the planned closure of a Sealy manufacturing plant in my district in North Portland….I apologize that I cannot be there with you in person today, but please do not mistake my absence as acquiescence to Sealy’s decision to move Oregon jobs to Washington.”

By far, the most powerful moment of the day came when Daren, an employee from the plant, told the OIC members about his 22 years of service at Sealy.  He dropped out of college to work at Sealy so that he could support his son.  Daren’s hope was that one day his son could go to college.  Now that his job might be shipped out of state, he isn’t sure if his kids will be able to get the college education he has worked so hard to ensure for them.

Teamsters and Steelworkers whose jobs will be affected by the plant closure gave powerful testimony at the hearing

Daren–and quite a number of people in the room–were in tears.

We don’t know yet what impact our efforts will have on the effort to save the jobs at the Sealy plant, but we have to keep fighting.  Stay tuned for the next steps.

For all of you who have supported this effort so far, thank you.  And thank you to all the members of the Steelworkers, Teamsters and SEIU who came out today to speak out on this incredibly important issue.

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