Freedom Foundation

Even Unions Can’t Always Get What They Want

A little over a month after its last hearing in the Oregon State Senate’s Committee on Workforce, House Bill 2016, the so-called union “wish-list,” this week received a work session.

Work sessions are designed so that amendments can be brought forward to address and fix any issues with the proposed legislation.

As highlighted in a previous blog post, union leaders were out in full force to encourage the Legislature to pass House Bill 2016.

One of their main points of emphasis was stopping the Freedom Foundation.

When the bill received a work session in the House Committee on Business and Labor, it was amended to make it an unfair labor practice for a public employer to “knowingly” permit use of its electronic mail system by an entity seeking to discourage union membership or discourage dues authorizations.

The purpose of the amendment was obvious. Following the Supreme Court’s 2018 landmark ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which put an end to compulsory payments to public sector unions, the Freedom Foundation has emailed thousands of public employees to notify them of their rights.

The amendment adopted by the House Committee on Business and Labor was directly targeted at the Freedom Foundation, the only organization in the Beaver State doing outreach to public employees about their rights regarding union membership.

During HB 2016’s last hearing, multiple union leaders opined that the most important part of the bill was the section prohibiting the Freedom Foundation from contacting its members.  In fact, Oregon Education Association President John Laron’s entire testimony followed this theme.

But these testimonies appeared to have fallen on deaf ears, seeing that the Senate Committee on Workforce not only adopted, but also originally requested the -A13 amendment.

The amendment is simple and straightforward.  It deletes not only the section prohibiting the Freedom Foundation from emailing public employees, but also the areas that would prohibit a public employer from disclosing emails the union sends out to public employees.

This area of the bill not only restricted public employees’ free speech, but also protected the unions from having their propaganda be disclosable via public records.

Although the amendment improves the bill, it still contains very poor legislation. However, it was still a victory to see the Senate Committee on Workforce not just ignore but go directly against the pleas of Oregon union leaders.

Despite their kicking and screaming, apparently unions can’t always get what they want in the Legislature.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor to await a final vote before potentially heading to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Who knows? Maybe the union “wish list” will really just remain just that.