GREGORY A. HARTMAN
When I began practicing law, I initially focused on trying cases ranging from antitrust cases to will contests, and everything in between. I found, and still find, that litigation, particularly trying jury cases, presents complex and interesting challenges.
In 1979, a West Coast pulp and paper strike immediately refocused my practice, as our small firm handled the numerous issues that arose from the strike activity. I discovered that representing labor unions and their members brought an entirely new dimension to my practice. I consider myself fortunate that my practice has gravitated toward representing labor unions and their members in significant litigation.
In the early 1980s, I represented the Salem police and firefighters on issues regarding Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System. This led to representing a coalition of unions (the PERS Coalition) and handling issues related to Oregon’s PERS system. We support lobbyists on legislative issues, represent members’ interests before the PERS Board and, perhaps most importantly, have handled several lawsuits to preserve and protect the benefits of members. These cases, which have ultimately been resolved in the Oregon Supreme Court, resulted in saving billions of dollars for members that otherwise would have been lost through legislative or initiative action. We continue to represent members’ interests in all three forums—the courts, the legislature and the PERS Board.
In the mid-1990s, the Executive Director of the Oregon Education Association slid a box of documents across the table and asked if I could make some sense of the various reports that had been filed by Bill Sizemore and his organizations. At that point, Mr. Sizemore’s organizations had already unsuccessfully sponsored a number of anti-union initiatives which had cost Oregon’s labor unions millions of dollars to defeat. That simple gesture led to almost two decades of still-unfinished litigation against Mr. Sizemore, his organizations and his funders. We have been successful in getting substantial jury verdicts and settlements, injunctions and contempt actions against Mr. Sizemore and his organizations. These racketeering cases not only focused on the misconduct of Mr. Sizemore’s organizations but also revealed the realities of paid signature gathering and the substantial fraud that had engulfed our initiative system, opening the door to legislative reforms to address those problems. These cases also revealed a pattern of misuse of charitable organizations for political purposes, an issue which has now gained national notoriety.
In addition to handling these high-profile cases, I continue to consult with and advise clients, particularly labor unions, on a daily basis on the many issues that arise in protecting members’ rights. I plan to continue to handle concerns of labor unions and their members both in the courts and before the Legislature in areas that have a substantial impact on the rights of members.
My wife and I enjoy spending time at Black Butte, particularly our summer week with our five grandkids. I have also been known to hit a golf ball a time or two during the summer months.
- B.A. Mathematics, University of Chicago (1971); J.D.
- University of Oregon School of Law (1974).