By Thomas Triplett

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The Supreme Court held that public employees who object to paying fair share or agency dues have a constitutional right not to pay them in the Janus case. This overruled its prior decision. Since it is based upon an interpretation of the First Amendment to our Constitution, it is binding throughout the nation, including Oregon.

Unfortunately, Gov. Brown stated she stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the public employee unions in resistance to the constitutional rights of public employees.

And, she has enlisted our attorney general to put holy water over this approach.

One might fairly ask, why is an employer forming common cause with a union? This would never happen in the private sector.

Alas the political reality is that these unions take monies from public employees invest it into the governor’s political campaign.

When this resistance is successfully challenged under the 1866 Civil Rights Act, there will be staggering liability. Indeed the suit has already been filed in the federal court in Portland against the unions.

Because of the 11th Amendment, it was not filed against the state. It is predicable that once the federal court rules, a companion suit for damages will be filed in state court against the state.

Refunds for the years of improperly extracted dues will be owing, and there is the potential for punitive or other damages. Guess who will be on the hook, we the taxpayers.

It only gets worse. Oregon has a shady history of supporting compulsory dues. The leader of the Oregon State Employee Association, Mort Shapiro, was indicted and convicted of mail fraud.

Why?

Because the government proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he and others within the association conspired to fraudulently pad the ballot to assure that public employees had to pay dues to that union. Business agents testified that they had roamed the state casting phony ballots.

Oregon’s present law permits a public employee the choice to be a “fair share” as opposed to a regular member. The primary difference is that a fair share member may not be disciplined under the union constitution.

Given that many constitutions permit a person to be fined for crossing a picket line or “engaging in conduct not in the best interest of the union,” it is natural for some, despite the opprobrium from the union, to make that choice.

The dues are the same as those required of regular members, except those objecting on religious grounds must pay an equivalent amount to charity. There is no explicit reduction of dues to account for political activities of the union.

The United States Supreme Court held that there are two forms of membership, financial and regular, in the General Motors case.

Second, it held that financial members may not be compelled to pay that portion of dues supporting union political activities, in the Beck decision. These cases pertained to private employees.

Then in Janus, the Supreme Court held that the very nature of public unions is political, and thus an objecting employee need pay no dues, and could not be fired for failing to do so.

An important part of Janus is its forward glance. The opinion recognizes that public employees were misled into believing they must contribute or be fired.

The court stated that employees may waive their constitutional right not to pay dues. However, the waiver “cannot be presumed,” must be “freely given” and be shown by “clear and compelling evidence.”

Unfortunately our governor ignores this unambiguous statement of the law. Why? Presumably, to continue to fill her political coffers with tainted dollars, to the detriment of public employees, the public and the electoral process.

— Thomas Triplett lives in Tumalo.

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