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Local 328 purchases office building in SW Portland
Updated On: Feb 27, 2013
(Above) An exterior view of the new Local 328 building. (Below) Staff rep Frank Vehafric in his new SW Portland office.

President Matt Hilton says the new location offers better service to Local 328 members

Rapidly growing Oregon AFSCME Local 328, which represents a wide variety of employees at the Oregon Health & Science University

Rapidly growing Oregon AFSCME Local 328, which represents a wide variety of employees at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, has purchased its own office building. Member-leaders and staff say that once they decided to make the plunge, they found it was a good decision.


Obviously, this is not something in the future of every Council 75 local union. Local 328 represents about 5,500 members — more than one-fifth of the Oregon AFSCME total that hovers somewhere over 24,000. More and more of those Local 328 members work somewhere other than "Pill Hill" — OHSU has extensive and growing facilities in Portland's SW waterfront area and in other buildings downtown.


"We had some rented space at the bottom of Marquam Hill, but we were paying about $1,000 a month for that, it was too small and then the landlord needed it for something else, so we had to move," recalls veteran Oregon AFSCME Staff Representative Frank Vehafric, who has been one of the Local 328 staff reps for many years. "As we looked at it, we saw that we had a pretty decent amount of money in our strike fund that was only drawing 1-2 percent interest, and we soon understood that we could get a better return on that money, in addition to significantly upgrading our office space, by investing in a piece of real estate."


The Local 328 building sits at 4006 SW Barbur Blvd., about two blocks south of where the OHSU tram passes Barbur overhead. The local has about 1,200 square feet of office space. It's also now the landlord for a small, adjacent Farmers Insurance office (about 800 square feet). Additionally, the building has a basement that is being remodeled into a 2,000 square foot, three-bedroom apartment.


"When the apartment is finished and rented out, what we receive each month from Farmers and the apartment tenant will pay our monthly mortgage bill," said Vehafric. "So the financial part is working out very well."


The new Local 328 digs are four blocks from OHSU's human resources office, and about five minutes from "The Hill" and five minutes from the SW waterfront area.


"It's more accessible to our members," says Local 328 President Matt Hilton. "That's point No. 1. It also reduces our staff commute time, so they are able to provide more efficient services to our members. We're simply trying to provide the best service we can, and this was the way to do it."


Vehafric and fellow staff reps Diane Lovell and Val Andreas have moved their offices out of AFSCME's Portland E. Burnside location to the Local 328 building. Kate Baker, Local 328's fourth rep, lives in Gresham and continues her primary office at the Portland AFSCME office.


"For Diane, Val and myself, this cuts 20 to 30 minutes of commute time from home to work, so that's better, and it's cutting hours of wasted time getting from the Burnside office up the hill and back, dealing with traffic, bridge lifts and whatnot," said Vehafric. "We still have a joint office on Burnside and Kate is there, so it's all working out great."


Telephone and Internet lines have all been tied to the Portland office, so it's a seamless transition if you call or e-mail. The staff transitioned less than a month ago, so Vehafric says a limited number of members have actually utilized the new facility.


"But the response so far has been great," he says. "It's a good, central location for us, and it's helping us better serve our members' needs."


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