Freedom Foundation

Hearing on HB 2016 Characterized by Union Lies, Political Indifference

Recently, the Freedom Foundation published a blog about on House Bill 2016, which is quite literally the unions’ scheme for returning to their pre-Janus status in a post-Janus Oregon.

If passed, the legislation would nullify key components of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling banning mandatory union dues and fees in the public sector by:

  • making it easier for government unions to deduct dues while simultaneously making it harder for public employees to cancel dues deductions;
  • requiring the state to periodically turn over to the union personal employee information currently exempt from public disclosure;
  • allowing the union to define what’s considered “reasonable” conduct for employees attending union-related meetings; and,
  • making it an unfair labor practice for an employer to allow any entity to use its electronic mail system to discourage union membership or dues authorizations.  This would even apply to one employee emailing a co-worker to inform them of their rights under Janus.

On March 11, Oregon’s House Committee on Business and Labor held a public hearing on HB-2016.  Not surprisingly, government unions came out in full force to support the bill, including legal staff from SEIU 503 and AFSCME Council 75.

Even SEIU 503’s beleaguered president was there for the occasion.

In a nutshell, their position was, “We already do some of these things, so pass this bill and just sign it into law.”  However, their bland assurances neglected address how onerous the bill language is, or how it’s an open invitation for unions to abuse public employees’ rights.

Fortunately, some members on the House Committee on Business and Labor were unconvinced.  Prior to questioning the unions, for example, Rep. Greg Barreto (R-Cove) made clear his distaste for government unions and decried their influence in politics.

He asked whether, assuming the bill passes, unions would have total control over what public employees hear regarding their union membership and their options regarding joining a union.

Not surprisingly, the question was completely ignored:

Later, several attorneys representing the League of Oregon Cities testified in opposition to the bill.  As representatives of different school districts in collective bargaining with unions, their message was straightforward: The state doesn’t need this bill.

Further, the group noted that it violates the First Amendment and sends the message that if the union doesn’t get what it wants in collective bargaining, the Legislature will intervene on its behalf.

Freedom Foundation Policy Analyst Boaz Dillon offered the legislation’s most spirited testimony, highlighting how truly insidious the bill is.

It states, for example, that if a union does not specify how an employee might revoke dues authorizations in the collective bargaining agreement, he or she must deliver an original signed, written statement to the headquarters of the labor organization. But it doesn’t make clear whether this must be accomplished in person or by mail.

Applied literally, the bill could require workers to drive clear across the state in order to opt out.

Dillon also criticized the bill for shielding government unions from liability damages when it is found to have illegally withheld dues from an employee’s paycheck.  If this kind of legislation passed, what would prevent a union from skimming money from the wages of an employee who hadn’t authorized it if there were no penalty for doing so?

You can watch Dillon’s full testimony below: