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Oregon City reverses fee-scandal demotion

By mutual consent between the city and AFSCME, Samantha Vandagriff this month went back to being Oregon City’s senior plans examiner, thereby reversing her demotion on March 25. After her participation in the recent fee-collection scandal, Vandagriff will remain Oregon City’s highest-paid AFSCME employee with her $79,056 annual salary.

As part of the agreement, Oregon City’s employees union withdrew its formal complaint to the state from April. AFSCME had railed against the city’s unfair labor practices in Vandagriff’s demotion and threatened firing that came in the aftermath of a failure to collect development fees, which cost taxpayers nearly $1 million. Co-signed by the Oregon Employee Relations Board on Aug. 8, the agreement also stipulates that Oregon City “shall cease and desist from interfering with the administration of the union” where Vandagriff is an active member.

“The issue with Samantha has been resolved, and we’re glad that the city has stopped acting under the bad legal advice that they had,” union spokeswoman Stacy Chamberlain said. “They heard her concerns, and they began to work together to address the underlying issues.”

AFSCME had argued that Oregon City was using Vandagriff as a scapegoat when none of her supervisors were left working full-time for the city (“AFSCME, OC stare down over demotion,” April 15). Oregon City officials, meanwhile, had argued that Vandagriff should have taken a higher responsibility for the error, given her seniority.

Chamberlain and Oregon City’s new labor attorney continue to refine the draft settlement between Vandagriff and the city. Jim Loeffler, Oregon City’s human resources director, said because the final settlement is a personnel related matter, he would require the city attorney’s advice prior to any disclosure.

“The only settlement that is final is the union’s consent to withdraw the unfair labor practice against the city,” he said.