May 14: Gladstone Burgerville votes to unionize
One month after a southeast Portland Burgerville voted to establish the Burgerville Worker’s Union—one of the only federally-recognized fast food unions in the country—Gladstone Burgerville employees voted 17-5 to join. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, union demands include a $5 per hour raise, more consistent scheduling practices and affordable healthcare. BWU members from the Southeast Portland location will begin bargaining May 22.
May 15: Lowest vote turnout in 20 years determines Oregon primaries
Just over one third—33.9 percent—of Oregon voters turned in their primary ballots on Tuesday, May 15, the lowest turnout of primary voters since 1998. However, according to The Oregonian, overall participation numbers rose this year, two years after Oregon’s Motor Voter Law, which automatically registers individuals to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license, first went into effect.
At the state level, incumbent Governor Kate Brown will face Republican Knute Buehler in November, while activist Jo Ann Hardesty and Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith will face off for a Portland City Council seat. Either city council winner will be historic for Portland, as a woman of color has never been elected to the council.
May 16: City Council approves $5.1 billion budget
City Council approved Mayor Ted Wheeler’s proposed budget on Wednesday, May 16, to the dismay of protesters who have opposed the budget’s $5 million increase to the Portland Police Bureau to hire 49 new officers. However, an additional $31 million will go to the Portland–Multnomah County joint Office of Homeless Services, and $500,000 will be allocated to legal defense for Portland immigrants facing deportation. To help pay for the budget increase, the local business tax will increase from 2.2 to 2.6 percent to rake in an additional $15 million per year.
May 18: Farm Bill fails in the House
The Farm Bill—an $868 billion legislative package that would have subsidized agriculture and funded food assistance programs—failed in the House in a 198-213 vote amid partisan fights about immigration and strict work requirements the bill imposed on individuals receiving food assistance. According to Vox, Republicans tried to gain more support for the bill by pushing for a simultaneous floor vote on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which House Speaker Paul Ryan opposed.