Read In Focus, a question-and-answer series to learn about the people who are members of the Service Employees International Union Local 085.
Questions by Aaron Montoya, editor
Please introduce yourself and explain your job.
I’m Louie Vidmar, the web developer for the School of Journalism and Communication.
I work to various degrees with more than two dozen websites—from the SOJC website, to faculty research projects, to hosting student group sites. The workload can really add up at times.
Aside from working with great people in the SOJC tech office, a work group I really enjoy is the Friday morning WebDevs group. Every Friday from 10 a.m.—noon, web developers get together in the Thompson building (the group used to meet in the HR conference room), to discuss best practices, show off recent accomplishments, and collaborate on any troubling problems we’re working with.
What does the union mean to you? How did you become involved with 085?
I graduated from UO during 2009, did some freelancing, and got a job as a technology specialist with the 4J school district during 2010. There I was a member of Oregon School Employees Association, but I had a mixed view of the union. Shortly after I was hired I got a letter of intent to lay-off, since the union was trying to get furlough days restored. They ended up negotiating for some of the furlough days and keeping all the employees. I only had one interaction with a steward there, and the discussion didn’t really go anywhere.
In 2014 I came back to UO to my current role and worked in the same building as our then-President Carla McNelly. She held meetings to inform us of bargaining updates and such. When Carla moved on, there was nobody in the building following these issues. So I got involved as a “CAT” or work-area-contact, and from there as a General Council delegate and a steward.
It’s been said that “democracy works best for those who show up,” so I am trying to be involved as much as I can. I was hurt when SEIU (international) endorsed Clinton in the primary this year, when Sanders seemed to stand for labor and environmental issues much more strongly than she has. General membership were not given a choice, and as a local, 085 nor 503 could take a stand against a decision made by the International. Reform is possible, but it needs to start from the grass-roots upward.
Beyond the UO and the union, what is Louie all about?
Lately, I’ve become increasingly involved in politics, particularly labor and environmental issues. I volunteered with the Sanders campaign in the primary, and the Measure 97 campaign in the general election. I’ve been appointed as a PCP in the DPLC, elected to the ESSN board, and elected to the Our Revolution Lane County board.
I also like to have fun adventures! I compete in alpine ski racing, 3-event waterskiing and Scottish highland games. I also enjoy mountain biking, ski touring, snow shoeing, rock climbing, hiking, photography, road trips, spending time with my German Shepherd, Buddy, and working on my house.