House Bill 2016 is now the law in Oregon, signed by Gov. Kate Brown on June 20. It is the Legislature’s workaround of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision.
Then, the court ruled that public-sector unions must stop forcing nonmembers to pay fees without their consent. The “First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them,” the court said.
Among other things, the new law requires school districts, the state and other public employers to give union representatives paid time away from the job for their union duties. No benefits, including seniority, are lost and the employer cannot cut working hours in an attempt to avoid overtime.
And there’s much more. The law does not limit how many “designated representatives” are entitled to paid excused time nor require them to give prior notice when they take time off for union work. The bottom line is that could create big problems for governments trying to plan staffing and to control budgets.
There are other problems, as well. The union must be given space at work to meet with union members, both individually and in groups. And, it also has a right to employees’ personal contact information, including home and cell telephone numbers.
Worst, however, might be this: While the Janus ruling says an employee must “clearly and affirmatively” consent to the deduction of union dues from a paycheck, Oregon’s new law allows consent by telephone, email and in writing. But the law leaves it to the unions to tell employers who has authorized deductions, and employers may not verify the information.
The law, in other words, is good for public employee unions, but not necessarily good for anyone else.