Oregon AFL-CIO to fight 'right-to-work'

SALEM - The Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board voted unanimously June 18 to carry a resolution to its September convention in North Bend calling for a special per capita assessment to fight "right-to-work" ballot measures in 2000.

"It's not a question of if - a right-to-work ballot measure is absolutely going to happen in Oregon," said David Gregory, the national AFL-CIO's project manager for the Western Region.

Organized labor helped to narrowly defeat Ballot Measure 59 last year, a right-to-work initiative put on the ballot by Oregon Taxpayers United (OTU). Since that defeat, Bill Sizemore, executive director of OTU, has filed numerous initiative petitions that go after public employee unions, union dues checkoff, and union shop clauses in union contracts.

The Republican-controlled Oregon Legislature also is considering a joint resolution that would automatically send a right-to-work measure to the ballot in November 2000.

Senate Joint Resolution 43 would amend the Oregon Constitution by prohibiting dues checkoff for public employees if any part of the funds collected is used for political purposes. The joint resolution is the continuation of a bill (SB 714) introduced earlier in the session by Senate Majority Leader Gene Derfler, R-Salem, which was described as a much harsher version of Measure 59.

SJR 43 would prohibit unions from collecting dues via payroll deduction if any part of the union dues is used for political purposes. Political purposes are described as "supporting or opposing a candidate for public office, supporting or opposing a ballot measure, collecting signatures for an initiative, referendum or recall petition, and discouraging electors from signing an initiative, referendum or recall petition." Because it is a joint resolution, if SJR 43 passes both the House and Senate the governor cannot veto it.

The Oregon AFL-CIO special assessment resolution calls for 30 cents a member a month for 14 months, which would raise more than $500,000 for the AFL-CIO's internal campaign to fight right-to-work ballot measures.

If any of the right-to-work measures fail to qualify to the 2000 ballot the assessment would stop in July 2000 - the deadline for turning in signatures.

"Because Measure 59 was so close, the National Right-to-Work Committee will pour millions of dollars into Oregon next time," Gregory said. "The education process has to start now. I can't tell you how important this is."

July 2, 1999 issue

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