Ballot measure fight coming this November

By Tom Chamberlain, Oregon AFL-CIO President

As expected, the pro-corporate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Janus in the Janus v AFSCME case, creating national “Right to Work” for the public-sector. Immediately, the Freedom Foundation implemented their program to have workers drop union membership. The report I’ve received from the field is that Freedom Foundation strategy is backfiring due to years of internal organizing. Public-sector workers know who the Freedom Foundation is: Their mission is to destroy the American union movement. Their well-funded corporate backers such as the Koch brothers pump millions into the Freedom Foundation, hoping to destroy our political programs. Just look at the initiatives that will likely qualify for the November ballot.

While the verification of submitted initiative petitions has not been completed, we have a good idea as to what will be on November’s ballot. News organizations across the state have reported on serious fraud allegations by signature gatherers. The Portland Tribune reported: “A whistleblower is alleging elections and labor law violations against Ballot Access LLC of Bend, which has been paid to gather signatures for Initiative Petitions 22, 31 and 37. Street Roots reports: “For weeks, signature gatherers working for Ballot Access LLC have been reportedly lying to Portland voters, telling them an initiative to repeal Oregon’s sanctuary-state status would do the opposite.”

Here is what we may be up against:

  • Initiative Petition 1  IP 1 would amend Oregon’s constitution to prohibit spending public funds on abortion. It would have a disproportionate impact on teachers, nurses, firefighters and thousands of other public-sector workers, who would no longer be eligible for abortion coverage through their health plans. The measure also impacts approximately 250,000 women from receiving reproductive benefits through the Oregon Health Plan.
  • Initiative Petition 22  IP 22 would throw out Oregon’s sanctuary law, which has been protecting Oregonians from unfair racial profiling for more than 30 years. Daily, we hear increasing stories of long-time U.S. residents deported to a country they don’t even know, families torn apart, ICE raids, and children detained in immigration camps. Throwing out this law could turn local police into another arm of Trump’s deportation force. If this ballot measure passes, local police could be asked to use personnel, funds, equipment and facilities to locate and arrest people suspected of violating federation immigration law.  Immigrants, including those who may be undocumented, shouldn’t live in fear of harassment or their families being torn apart.
  • Initiative Petition 31  IP 31 amends the Oregon constitution by expanding the 3/5ths majority requirement in the legislature currently needed to create or raise taxes to include all bills that raise revenue. This initiative is funded by Priority Oregon, a dark-money corporate group pushing an obstructionist, anti-worker agenda. The measure would make it harder for the legislature to close tax loopholes and hold corporations accountable for paying their fair share in taxes. This is a big business effort to gridlock the legislature and block funding for schools and vital services.
  • Initiative Petition 37  IP 37, which has already qualified by submitting ample signatures, would amend the Oregon Constitution by prohibiting taxes based on transactions for “groceries.” Legal analysis shows it’s misleading and the measure would apply to far more than just conventional grocery retailers – it would include food processors, trucking companies, slaughterhouses, restaurants and fast food chains. The measure is so broad that it applies to transactions such as the Oregon bottle deposit fee, fuel tax, and restaurant meals. The measure is retroactive to September 2017 to repeal parts of Measure 101 to fund Medicaid for low-income families and seniors. IP 37 is funded by big, out-of-state grocers including Albertsons, Safeway, Kroger and Costco.

These initiative petitions reflect a far-right, corporatist agenda. These groups believe Janus will weaken Oregon’s union movement, allowing them to change Oregon to be in line with their beliefs. They have miscalculated. Our union movement stands ready to repeal these out-of-state invaders. 

1 Comment on Ballot measure fight coming this November

  1. Signature gatherers for 37 have definitely been making not only misleading statements but false ones as they solicited in front of stores.
    The initiative process, like so much else, was hijacked decades ago by moneyed interests.

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