Oregon's scheme to defy Janus, prop up unions and rob workers

Here’s a case you’ll want to keep an eye on in the months ahead. Since the decision was handed down in Janus v AFSCME, public sector unions, in particular, have been on the ropes. No longer able to extract union dues (or “agency fees”) from workers and use them for political speech the employee may disagree with, the cash cow has largely ceased giving milk. But unions in Oregon clearly aren’t ready to go down without a fight. Legislators in the Beaver State are now moving forward with a bill clearly designed to subvert the Supreme Court decision and keep money flowing into the union coffers.

The method they are using is blatantly obvious. As the Freedom Foundation reports this week, this new scheme would see the state reducing the pay of state government employees and then transferring that money directly to the unions. How is this legal? It certainly doesn’t sound like it is, but we’ll see when the state is taken to court, assuming the legislation is signed into law.

Oregon lawmakers are hopeful their state will pioneer legislation that would exempt it from the effects of a landmark right-to-work ruling this past summer by the U.S. Supreme Court.

House Bill 2643, authored by Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) and scheduled to be introduced during the legislative session beginning later this month, is a shot across the bow of Janus v. AFSCME, which banned so-called “agency” fees charged by government employee unions to workers who’ve opted out of full membership and dues.

The bill — a wolf in sheep’s clothing — first recognizes the newly affirmed rights given to workers in the Janus decision. Later, however, it creates a slush fund from which the state would pay the unions directly rather than deducting dues from workers’ paychecks.

I understand that the unions support the Democratic Party virtually without exception and Oregon’s state government is run by the Democrats. But couldn’t they at least try to be a little more subtle about it? This is nothing short of robbery and the only ones benefitting from the theft are the public sector unions.

Keep in mind that unions, at least in theory, are supposed to be protecting and empowering the workers. But if this scheme somehow makes it into law, they will be fighting to reduce the pay of the public sector workers so the money can be redirected into their coffers. And since when can the state unilaterally slash everyone’s pay? Don’t they have some sort of standardized pay scale enshrined in law?

This also flies in the face of the Janus decision in terms of political speech. If you reduce the pay of the workers without their consent, give it to the unions and they turn around and engage in political speech, isn’t that precisely what the Supreme Court said they couldn’t do? All that’s changing in the proposed scenario is which bank account the money is being drawn from.

That money is entirely the property of the taxpayers. Having it used in this fashion is a classic case of the state robbing its own citizens to prop up one political party over the other. And it should not be tolerated.

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Jazz Shaw 7:31 PM on October 02, 2022
David Strom 8:31 AM on October 02, 2022