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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Big Labor protection at core of new laws

You'd better get used to it
"It's been a great session. Any other questions?"

It's being called the best legislative session in more than a decade for Oregon's government labor unions. Lawmakers came down hard on individual rights, union elections, economic growth and property rights.

"This has been a landmark session for Big Labor," said Acting Gov. Randy Leonard, who has signed a host of bills over the past two days - including shortage-producing price controls on loans and disaster relief - that give the government unions huge leverage over Oregon's ordinary citizens.

"These are bills that have been backlogged for 16 years" - the amount of time Republicans have controlled at least one chamber, said Patty Wentz, spokeswoman for Our Oregon, the government union political group regarded by Salem insiders as the 800-lb. gorilla of state politics. "It's been a great session."

Leonard, a Democrat, said the political shakeup at the Legislature made the difference this year. "Everyone knows that when you get this change in the majority, you have this pent-up promise to do these things that should have been done a long time ago," the former Firefighters union boss said.

"Far too often, those who can least afford it, wind up paying the highest price by working in a government job," Leonard said. "Union protection - at its core - is about the principle of fairness. Any other questions?"

While labor groups celebrated; a business lobbyist said it's too soon to assess the overall impact of the bills on the sustainability of Oregon's economy.

The Oregonian, June 20, By HARRY ESTEVE and BILL GRAVES

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