Union leaders file several draft initiatives for 2002 election ballot

SALEM - Draft initiatives to establish a prescription drug cost reduction program for consumers and health care plans; to prohibit the use of state funds to promote or oppose union organizing; and to require petitioners of initiatives to collect more signatures before receiving a ballot title have been filed with the secretary of state.

One initiative calls for formation of the Oregon Prescription Drug Cost Reduction Program, which would negotiate prices for prescription drugs with pharmaceutical manufacturers and pass on the savings to consumers enrolled in the program.

Chief petitioners are Alice Dale, executive director of Service Employees Local 503, Oregon Public Employees Union, and Gene Pronovost, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555. If the initiative is approved, 66,786 signature s will need to be collected by July 2002 to qualify for the November ballot.

Another proposed initiative would prohibit the use of public funds and limit the use of public buildings to promote or deter union organizing campaigns.

Chief petitioners for the State Government Neutrality Act are Ken Allen, executive director of Oregon Council 75 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and Brad Witt, secretary-treasurer of the Oregon AFL-CIO.

Another initiative filed would require petitioners to collect at least half of the required signatures before their initiative would be given a ballot title. Initiatives currently need only 25 signatures before sponsors can apply for a ballot title. Petitioners such as Bill Sizemore of Oregon Taxpayers United often file multiple versions of the same proposals before going forward with the title they think is the most appealing.

Chief petitioner of the signature-requirement initiative is James Sager, former president of the Oregon Education Association. The initiative would amend the Oregon Constitution, therefore, 89,048 signatures would be required to qualify for the November ballot.

Sixty-seven initiative proposals have been filed so far for next year's general election. Sizemore leads the pack with 11 anti-union initiative petitions.

Included in Sizemore's proposals are three new versions of "paycheck deception" to eliminate payroll deductions for public employees (two previous versions have been defeated by voters); two new versions of prevailing wage exemptions for construction workers; several constitutional amendments creating" right-to-work (for less)" laws; and an initiative to alter how public employee collective bargaining contracts are negotiated.

July 6, 2001 issue

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