SALEM — A veteran anti-union activist filed a pair of proposed ballot measures Friday to alter requirements governing public employee union contributions and to further regulate union political expenditures.
“The initiatives are meant to give government employees the right to choose whether they have to join a union and how their union dues are going to be spent,” said Jill Gibson, a Portland attorney who is the point person for both initiatives.
Initiative petition 34 would convert Oregon government into a “right to work” state for public employees. Under the so-called “Your Paycheck, Your Choice Act,” government employees in unionized positions who choose not to become union members would no longer be compelled to pay fees in the place of union dues, as they are now.
Initiative petition 33, dubbed the “Oregon Sunshine Act,” would require government unions to report how much and where union dues are spent and require unions to report spending on lobbying and other political activities.
The list of proposed 2018 ballot measures stands at 36, including 23 statutory initiatives to create new laws, 11 constitutional amendments and two referendums on bills passed during the 2017 legislative session.
Gibson had worked in 2016 with a group that tried to qualify an initiative for a “right to work” law for government workers.
The effort received a ballot title, but did not gather enough signatures to qualify it to go to voters and was withdrawn a week before the July 8 deadline.
Because the two proposed initiatives would change state law rather than the state constitution, supporters will need to gather only 88,184 signatures to qualify them for the November 2018 ballot. Veterans of the ballot process usually aim to turn in 30 to 40 percent more signatures than necessary to have a buffer for names that are disqualified because the information is incorrect, unverifiable or the person is ineligible to vote in Oregon.
Gibson declined to give the names of groups or individuals who support the initiatives. Each will have its own campaign committee, which will allow supporters to raise and spend money. The Oregonian reported in 2016 that Gibson’s group raised $26,000, with the largest contributions coming from Freres Lumber Co. in Lyons and Seneca Jones Timber Company.
Opposition to the initiatives was led by the Service Employees International Union, the largest union representing state workers. Opponents said the legislation would allow “free riders,” who would enjoy the benefits of union-negotiated contracts without having to pay dues or fees.
An SEIU representative was not available on Friday to respond to requests for comment on the 2018 initiatives.
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Editor’s note: This article has been corrected. The original version misstated the numbers for initiative petitions 33 and 34. The Bulletin regrets the error.