During Oregon’s 2019 legislative session, the democratic supermajority introduced House Bill 2016 at the behest of public sector unions. H.B. 2016, dubbed the “union wish list bill”, aimed to prohibit the Freedom Foundation from conducting outreach to public employees, as well as preventing anyone besides the union from obtaining employee information.
Surprisingly, the bill’s union proponents didn’t get everything they wanted in the legislation. Despite pleas from union leaders, the Senate Committee on Workforce removed sections from the bill which would have prohibited the Freedom Foundation from contacting public employees.
This was a blow the unions, nor their bought politicians were going to take lying down. Oregon government unions have friends in high places. Enter Kate Brown . At the request of her union pals, Governor Brown recently submitted a letter to the Oregon Sunshine Committee regarding House Bill 2016’s amended sections, including the part prohibiting the Freedom Foundation from contacting government employees.
The Governor is requesting the Sunshine Committee revisit legislation involving identifiable employee information collected by public entities.
Essentially, Governor Brown is asking the committee to propose legislation for the short session which would mirror House Bill 2016’s original intent, regarding the disclosure of certain employee information.
Oregon has often been criticized, and rightly so, for its lack of government transparency due to public record exemptions.
Despite opposition from open government organizations, the Governor is pushing Oregon towards less transparency in the hope of preventing the unions from losing members.
Make no mistake. This is in direct response to the outreach efforts of the Freedom Foundation. Since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, the Freedom Foundation has helped more than 16,000 Oregon employees leave their union.
Politicians such as Governor Brown receive copious amounts of financial support from government unions. When unions lose members, they lose money, and in turn those politicians receive less in union campaign contributions.
While Governor Brown is promoting less transparency in Oregon’s government, her motives for doing so couldn’t be more transparent.