August 4, 2006  Volume 107 Number 16

Sizemore files anti-union initiatives for 2008 ballot

Labor foe and convicted racketeer Bill Sizemore has filed initiative petitions with the Oregon secretary of state’s office calling for the repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law and making Oregon a so-called right-to-work state in which the union shop is banned.

They are just two of 29 initiatives Sizemore has filed for the 2008 election cycle. Most of the initiatives attack public employee unions and teachers.

One of Sizemore’s initiatives will appear on the November 2006 ballot. He had filed nearly a dozen.

Sizemore still owes the Oregon Education Association and the Oregon Federation of Teachers-Oregon nearly $2.5 million after they successfully sued him and his organization, Oregon Taxpayers United (OTU), in December 2000, charging a pattern of fraud and racketeering activities that caused the unions to have to spend heavily to defeat them. The jury agreed that: Sizemore’s organizations submitted forged signatures on the initial statements of sponsorship for the future ballot measures; they submitted forged signatures on initiative petitions used to qualify measures for the ballot; and they lied on state and federal tax returns and state Contribution & Expenditure (C&E) reports.

He was ordered to pay $842,000 in damages to the two teachers unions. Under state anti-racketeering statutes, that amount was tripled by the judge to $2.52 million. Sizemore has filed appeals and has refused to pay the fine. In 2004, a Multnomah County judge held him in contempt of court.

Sizemore’s initiatives for 2008 include more measures that would prohibit unions from collecting dues from members’ checks; an initiative that would prevent public employee unions from making campaign contributions to elected public officials that would make decisions at the workplace. Unions caught contributing would be “guilty of bribery or attempting to bribe an elected official,” the initiative reads. Another initiative would subject teacher pay raises and job security to classroom performance.

Some of Sizemore initiatives on file don’t attack unions, but they would affect the initiative process. One would repeal 2002’s Ballot Measure 26, the union-backed initiative banning the buying and selling of signatures. Signature-gatherers now must be paid by the hour. A co-sponsor of the newly-filed initiative is Tim Trickey, who owns a signature-gathering business.

Another Sizemore initiative would allow initiatives to contain a provision stating that the courts cannot overturn a ballot measure if passed by voters. Still another initiative would require the secretary of state to “scrutinize every signature” that is turned in on a petition.

None of the 38 initiatives on file at the secretary of state’s office as of July 31 had been approved for circulation.