Union-backed Oregon group files anti-antiunion initiatives


In answer to a proposed anti-union ballot initiative, the union-backed coalition Our Oregon filed two counter-initiatives Nov. 12.

Initiative Petition 9 — the anti-union initiative — would remove any obligation for union-represented public employees to pay dues or their equivalent. Labeled the Public Employee Choice Act, it’s aimed at the November 2014 ballot, but the campaign isn’t actually gathering signatures yet. Chief petitioner Jill Odell didn’t like the ballot description the Oregon Attorney General’s office wrote, and appealed the wording to the Oregon Supreme Court.

OurOregonThe Our Oregon counter-initiatives would contradict IP 9. Under Oregon law, if two ballot measures contradict each other and both pass, the one that gets the most votes prevails. The idea behind the counter-initiatives is that they might garner more votes than the anti-union measure.

Initiative Petition 35, “Employee Rights At Work,” names Oregon AFSCME political director Joe Baessler as chief petitioner. Under IP 35, any initiative that alters laws on minimum wage, family leave, payroll deduction, or collective bargaining would be required to describe current law and specify whether the initiative enhances or restricts employee rights, a determination that would by made by the Oregon labor commissioner.

Initiative Petition 36, “Protect Workers Right to Contribute” names SEIU Local 503 political director Arthur Towers as chief petitioner. IP 36 says that “no law shall restrict the ability of employers and their employees (either individually or through their bargaining representative) to negotiate and agree upon terms governing payroll deductions.”

Both initiatives are in the process of getting official ballot titles, and thus aren’t yet approved to circulate. Our Oregon has filed 10 other prospective measures aimed at the November 2014 ballot, all of which are different versions of proposals to raise taxes on big corporations and the wealthy. None of those has been approved to circulate yet either.

Our Oregon spokesperson Scott Moore said the group has not yet decided which if any of the initiatives to pursue. As for IP 35 and 36, Moore said Our Oregon would pursue one or the other, but not both.

The initiatives would need to gather 87,213 valid signatures from registered voters by July 3, 2014, in order to appear on the November 2014 ballot.


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