Suit over Oregon’s legislative employee union finally gets under way

Suit over Oregon’s legislative employee union finally gets under way
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Suit over Oregon’s legislative employee union finally gets under way

(SALEM, Ore.) — After more than a year of procedural delays, a lawsuit filed by Oregon State Rep. Kim Wallan (R-Medford) and a member of her staff challenging the unionization of Oregon legislative employees is finally under way.

The Freedom Foundation filed opening briefs on behalf of Wallan and her aide, Sarah Daley, after the Oregon Employment Relations Board’s (ERB) decision to certify a bargaining unit consisting of Oregon legislative assistants, to be represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 89.  

Now, 28 Oregon lawmakers and staffers are supporting the Freedom Foundation’s legal action in an amicus brief to the court.

“Unionizing legislative staff under the umbrella of an executive bureaucracy destroys the balance of power in Oregon,” said Freedom Foundation Oregon director Jason Dudash. “This is nothing but a brazen power grab by the union, and I am thrilled to see so many legislators willing to get involved and fight for the very real constitutional issues at play here”.

The brief argues that IBEW’s scheme violates the doctrine of separation of powers guaranteed by the Oregon Constitution by subjecting the Legislature to the authority of the Employment Relations Board, which functions under the executive branch in addition to violating individual’s First Amendment rights.

“The Supreme Court already decided that government employee unions are political organizations. IBEW is no exception,” said Freedom Foundation attorney Rebekah Millard. “Imagine being a Legislator in the minority political party, and your personal assistants are now represented by an organization that openly supports your political opponents. Do you think that might give you pause?”

“There are countless reasons why unionizing legislative staff is a terrible idea, both for constituent services and the general workings of state business,” concluded Dudash. “The ERB’s decision needs to be reversed. It represents yet another overreach by an executive agency to the detriment of individual freedoms and our form of government.”