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Published in the City Club of Portland Bulletin, Vol. 99, No. 1, Aug. 17, 2016

Petitioners filed the proposed IP 62 in September of 2015, with the goal of passing what would be referred to as the “No Politics from My Pay, Without My Say” Act. As of June 2016, the Oregon Supreme Court had not yet approved a final caption, and the measure will almost certainly fail to qualify for the 2016 ballot.

Currently, Oregon allows public employees who are part of a collective bargaining unit to refuse membership in the union that represents that unit. Because the union is still required to negotiate on their behalf, these nonmembers must contribute “fair-share” costs, but are not required to pay for the union’s political activities (so-called “nonchargeable” activities).

Supporters of IP 62 argue that the present system infringes on public employees’ free speech rights by making it too difficult to opt out of paying nonchargeable expenses, and that Oregon public-sector unions are not honest about sorting chargeable versus nonchargeable expenses.

The primary result of IP 62 would be to prevent Oregon public unions from spending member dues or nonmember fair-share fees on items that are not “germane to collective bargaining” unless the employee has actively given written permission.

The measure also makes several additional changes to existing Oregon law. Jurisdiction over related claims would be removed from the Employment Relations Board (ERB) and placed in state circuit courts, where prevailing employees would be awarded attorney fees in addition to other sums. Finally, the measure would forbid the state legislature from changing the definition of seven core labor-law terms unless the change itself were to be approved by ballot measure.

Your committee believes that IP 62 goes far beyond what is necessary to protect the First Amendment speech rights of Oregon public sector employees. The initiative would turn an “opt-out” system into an “opt-in” system without justification, would create free-rider problems, and would make several other unnecessary and damaging changes to existing Oregon labor law. Your committee believes a few small changes in the law would have been sufficient to address the concerns of IP 62 supporters, while avoiding substantial unwarranted harm to public unions.

Recommendation: The committee unanimously recommends a “No” vote.



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