(SALEM, Ore.) — On March 4, a critical barrier was overcome when an Appeals Court judge concluded an Oregon lawmaker and her aide had proper standing to challenge the ongoing effort to make Oregon the first U.S. state in which legislative staffers can be unionized.
The Freedom Foundation filed a lawsuit on August 5, 2021, challenging the constitutionality of the unionization of the Oregon Legislature. Out of the gate, the State defendants filed motions to delay the legal challenge from moving forward, including a motion to dismiss the case entirely on grounds that legislative staff opposed to unionization lack standing to bring a challenge in the first place.
“The court’s ruling on our clients’ standing is an important victory for legislative staff who do not want their paychecks used to fund political activity that very often stands in direct opposition to their personal values and the agenda they and their employers fight every day to advance,” said Jason Dudash, Oregon state director at the Freedom Foundation.
The Freedom Foundation filed the legal challenge on behalf of Oregon state Representative Kimberly Wallan (R-Medford) and her legislative assistant, Sarah Daley.
“As the court recognized,” Dudash continued, “unions are political entities and their ability to engage in politics and political campaigns could impact the outcome of legislative races, and the legislative staffers’ very livelihoods if their employers lose their elections.”
In its March 4 ruling, the court wrote, “unions are, themselves, a political issue, as they are capable of participating in politics. Petitioners – a political representative and her delegee – have a substantial interest in ensuring that all who work in Wallan’s office share the political views that will advance Wallan’s political agenda, including political views on unions themselves, and a union’s ability to represent certain employees on certain employment issues.”
“It’s simple common sense that no American should ever be compelled to financially support an agenda that openly conflicts with his or her own best interests,” Dudash said. “The court’s determination is all the more important now that we are seeing similar efforts to organize legislative staffers in neighboring Washington state and on Capitol Hill.”
Dudash concluded, “We look forward to finally be able to argue this important case on its merits and articulate the litany of reasons this has never been allowed in the history of our country.”