Anti-union measures won't be on November ballot

SALEM - Oregon's ballot measure line-up will not only be shorter this year, it will be a lot more friendly to working families, according to the Oregon AFL-CIO.

For the first time in eight years, organized labor will face no direct attack on working families - no "paycheck deception" schemes, no attacks on workers' pensions, no further attempts to gut funding for public services - thanks to the efforts of the Voter Education Project.

And, thanks to the efforts of the labor movement, voters will have an opportunity to raise the minimum wage and clean up the fraud inherent in the paid signature-gathering businesses run by Bill Sizemore and his anti-worker cohorts.�

Measure 25 will raise the minimum wage from $6.50 to $6.90 per hour in January 2003 and provide annual cost-of-living adjustments thereafter.� Its chief petitioners are State Legislator Diane Rosenbaum of Communications Workers Local 7901, labor commissioner-elect Dan Gardner of Electrical Workers Local 48, and Gene Pronovost, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555.���

Measure 26 will prohibit the buying and selling of signatures on initiative petitions, eliminate the incentives for fraud and forgery that are corrupting the initiative process and return the process to people who believe in a cause. Its chief petitioners are Tim Nesbitt, president of the Oregon AFL-CIO, human services advocate Ellen Lowe and Gresham real estate agent Bob Davis.�

Both measures qualified for the ballot with the highest validity rates of all initiatives filed this year � and neither campaign paid for signatures on a per-signature basis, Nesbitt said.

Other measures that will appear on the November general election ballot, and the state labor federation's recommendations on those measures include the following:

* Five referrals from the Legislature (Measures 14-18) that will eliminate racial references in the Constitution, expand the state's bonding authority for the rehabilitation of schools and emergency services buildings, lower the minimum age to serve in the Legislature from 21 to 18, and update local districts' ability to divvy up property tax revenues � all of which the Oregon AFL-CIO supports.

* Two constitutional amendments (Measures 21 and 22) that would change the manner in which judges are appointed and elected - which the AFL-CIO opposes as unnecessary and unwise attempts to politicize the judiciary in Oregon.

* A universal health care proposal (Measure 23) that shifts a large portion of the costs for its state-sponsored health care system to working families � which led the state labor federation to oppose what it otherwise described as a well-intended proposal.

* The AFL-CIO took no action on proposals (Measures 24 and 27) to allow denturists to install partial dentures and to require the labeling of all genetically-engineered foods.�

What is not on the ballot this year is just as significant as what is, Nesbitt said. Sizemore, director of the anti-union Oregon Taxpayers United, spent more than $200,000 on three initiatives to silence the voice of union members in the political process and to cut state and local taxes, but failed to qualify even one of them.

And supporters of term limits spent $198,000 on signature-gathering (including those conducted by Sizemore's signature-gathering firm) in an unsuccessful attempt to qualify their initiative.

August 16, 2002 issue

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