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Friday, June 15, 2007

New Oregon law bans supervisors, management

"Fair Choice Act" replaces extreme, artificial Taft-Hartley limits

Although Oregon is already #1 in the nation in government unions, for 60 years an obscure federal law known as the "Taft-Hartley Act" has banned unionization among so-called supervisors and management.

Oregon's "Fair Choice Act" - passed with an emergency clause and with bipartisan support - will now open those categories of employees to organizing campaigns, allowing thousands of workers the chance to participate in, rather than frustrate, the trend toward collectively bargaining over terms and conditions of employment and having a representative to arbitrate grievances.

Oregonians have a rich tradition of acting locally and thinking globally - and are often in the forefront of statewide movements to solve the nation's most intractable problems. Whether it's the bottle bill, universal health care, global warming, or auto pollution standards, GOP neglect at the federal level has been effectively answered by legislative action by Democrats in Salem and other state capitals.

Now, that model is being used to reform an antiquated federal labor law that has been stagnant and unchanged since 1947, in a first-in-the-nation modernization that will update the community roles and responsibilities of management and labor in Oregon.

Acting Gov. and ex-Firefighter Union boss Randy Leonard, declaring victory for the working families of Oregon, dismissed GOP and business critics, saying only "Mark them absent."

The new Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, ex AFL-CIO boss Tim Nesbitt, dismissed legal critics questioning the constitutionality of the Fair Choice Act, saying "It's a done deal. You'd better get used to it."

Officials from Our Oregon, SEIU Local 503, the Oregon Education Association, and AFSCME Local 75 were unavailable for comment.

The Oregonian, June 15 by EDWARD WALSH

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