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Even A Watered-Down Version of HB 2016 Should Outrage Oregonians

Today, House Bill 2016 or “the union wish-list” passed out of the Senate. HB-2016 serves as a thinly veiled shot at the Freedom Foundation’s highly successful work following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus vs. AFSCME decision, under which public employees can no longer be forced to make payments to a union.

Since its first legislative reading on Feb. 21, it’s been clear HB-2016 has three overarching goals:

  • making it more difficult for union members to opt out of their union membership;
  • protecting union interests by reducing the amount of liability for unlawfully extracted membership dues; and,
  • controlling and influencing union members by restricting their exposure to information regarding their Janus HB-2016 even guarantees the union the right to conduct meetings without undue interference with all newly hired public employees; at these meetings, the union may define “reasonable conduct.”

Simply put, the unions may now, legally, deem it “unreasonable” for public employees to be made aware of their own rights at privately held, union-led meetings.

The Freedom Foundation vehemently disagrees with this proposition and will continue the fight to ensure Oregon public employees are made fully aware of their rights. The passage of HB-2016 has, indeed, brought some success for the unions, but even the most corrupt union leaders couldn’t get everything they wanted.

An earlier version of HB-2016 attempted to restrict the Freedom Foundation’s ability to reach out and educate union members on their Janus rights. This version would have prevented public employers from disclosing employee email addresses and other useful contact information to anyone except union officials.

In addition, the Freedom Foundation would have been barred from sharing any information that might have discouraged public employees to remain union members. Even though unions have contributed to the campaigns of more than 66 percent of Oregon lawmakers, they still couldn’t pass HB-2016 in its full form.

Frustration expressed by union leaders at HB-2016’s second hearing, including AFSCME 75’s executive director and the president of the Oregon Education Association, reveals the driving motive for this legislation was to block the Freedom Foundation’s highly effective outreach tactics.

Thankfully, further amendments to HB-2016 saw these stipulations written out of the bill.

As it stands, HB2016 represents the unions’ best effort at damage control. To stanch the flow of thousands of public employees choosing to opt out of union membership, this bill attempts to manipulate, and censor information known by hard-working Oregonians.

SEIU 503, in particular, has seen dramatic fallout since the U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Janus v. AFSCME. Public records show losses of 26 percent: https://www.freedomfoundation.com/labor/seiu-503s-sinking-ship-might-be-sinking-faster-than-we-thought/

Aaron Withe, the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon Director comments “This bill is nothing more than an attempt from government unions to undermine the rights of workers. They know that when workers are given a choice about whether to financially support the union’s agenda or keep money in their pockets for their family, most will leave. We will continue to support the rights of workers by challenging this bill in litigation.”

Contact: Aaron Withe

Oregon Director

503-951-6208

awithe@freedomfoundation.com