Over 40 women from several
different Oregon AFSCME local unions participated recently in "Women in Public
Safety" workshop at the Portland office. Sponsored by the Council 75 Women's
Committee, the event was held in conjunction with the annual Oregon-Washington
Public Safety Conference.
The workshop focused on
issues faced by women in public safety positions dominated by males.
Coordinated by the Women's Committee and longtime Oregon AFSCME public safety
lobbyist Mary Botkin, the event was highlighted by a four-person panel:
- Donna Hammond, a journeyman electrician and member of IBEW
Local 48 who works for the City of Portland;
- Diane Lovell, a longtime Oregon AFSCME staff representative
who filed the grievance in the late 1970s that led to female corrections
officers being given equal access for employment and promotions within all
Oregon state prisons;
- Joan Palmateer, a retired Oregon Department of Corrections
manager who current consults with the FBI on its national prison audit
- Colette Peters, the newly appointed Director of the Oregon
Department of Corrections.
"It was a really diversified
panel that had very interesting stories about their ascent through
male-dominated work institutions," said Annette Skillman, a Women's Committee
member and Local 2376 (Corrections Security Plus) officer at Eastern Oregon
Correctional Institution in Pendleton.
"They relayed some of the
issues they had to deal with and just kind of walked us through what it was
like for them. Joan and Donna had been through it before, whereas Colette has a
newer perspective, being just recently appointed to head up the DOC. So I
thought it was very good, and I heard nothing but positive feedback from others
Skillman says she also
gleaned much information and enjoyment from the other workshop participants.
"While most of us were from
the DOC, there were people there from the OLCC, group homes, City of Portland
parking patrol and others," said Skillman. "Exchanging perspectives with them
was very enlightening."
As a Corrections employee,
Skillman was particularly appreciative of Peters' participation.
"Colette said she'd be
willing to do something similar that is DOC-specific on both the east and west
side, and she really emphasized that she wants all of us within the DOC to
think together as a team, rather than represented vs. management," said
Skillman. "She seems to recognize our importance in the bigger picture. We all
need to work together to keep our institutions safe, both for staff and the
The larger Public Safety
Conference, co-sponsored by Oregon AFSCME Council 75 and Washington AFSCME
Council 28, ran April 13-14.