Freedom Foundation Argues Against Unionizing Oregon Legislative Staff

Freedom Foundation Argues Against Unionizing Oregon Legislative Staff
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Freedom Foundation Argues Against Unionizing Oregon Legislative Staff

(SALEM, Ore.) – On Tuesday, the Oregon Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on the Oregon Employment Relation’s Board’s (ERB’s) decision to create a single labor union for all legislative assistants. The union ERB certified is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 89. Attorneys for the Freedom Foundation argued that ERB’s decision violates the separation of powers guaranteed by the Oregon Constitution because the executive branch, in the form of ERB, will insert itself between the legislators and their employees, thus imposing on a separate, coequal branch of government. 

Under ERB’s decision, the agency now has the power to adjudicate the propriety of actions that lawmakers take toward their staffers on matters related to collective bargaining. In doing so, the executive branch has made itself superior to the legislative branch.

“Staffers now have a protected right to engage in union activity – including making paying union dues that will be used for political campaign purposes,” explained Freedom Foundation attorney Rebekah Schultheiss. “The legislator cannot discipline a staffer for choosing to participate in the union – even if the union were to directly fund a political opponent.”

“Today’s oral arguments allowed the Freedom Foundation to explain to the court that our clients have a very real concern about the impact of creating a union for legislative staff,” continued Schultheiss.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand where the unions are going to spend their money in political races, and both Rep. Kimberly Wallan – a Republican who often opposes public sector union initiatives – and her aide, Sarah Daley, are directly and adversely impacted by union activities,” concluded Schultheiss.

“If one loses her seat, both lose their jobs. More importantly, the collective bargaining process overseen by an executive agency disrupts the essential working relationship between the staffer and legislator, severely burdening the legislative function.”