The Far Left, which dominates Oregon’s Democrats, at the urging of their chief financial contributors, are once again demonstrating that they are committed to “free speech.” But only if that “speech” agrees with their political philosophy — or more directly with the political philosophy of their chief financial contributors — the unions. There is a consistent and remarkable lack of tolerance on the left for dissent coupled with an unrelenting attempt to use government to silence that opposition.
Senate Bill 519 has been introduced at the request of the AFL-CIO and is designed to inhibit communications between employers and their employees regarding political and religious issues — and more importantly “union issues.” That’s right, the Democrats at the request of the unions want to make sure that Oregon’s workers hear only one side of the debate — the union’s side, or the Democrats’ side — in Oregon they’re interchangeable.
This is a clever piece of drafting by the unions. Buried in the definition section (Section 1.5) is the following language:
(5) “Political matters” includes political party affiliation, campaigns for legislation or candidates for political office and the decision to join, not join, support or not support any lawful political or constituent group or activity. [Emphasis supplied]
That all sounds pretty benign until you also include Section 1.1 which reads as follows:
(1) “Constituent group” includes, but is not limited to, civic associations, community groups, social clubs and mutual benefit alliances, including labor organizations. [Emphasis supplied]
In other words, for purposes of inhibiting employer communications, “political matters” now includes a union’s organizational activities and collective bargaining activities as well as it’s true political views. This is as Orwellian as it gets — “all pigs are equal but some pigs are more equal than others.”
So let’s understand some of the matters to which this legislation would apply.
1. During an union organizing effort, the unions would be permitted unfettered access to employees, while the employers would be inhibited — particularly with regard to an employer’s arguments as to why a union is neither needed nor desirable.
2. During collective bargaining negotiations, the unions would be permitted unfettered access to employees, while the employers would be inhibited — particularly with regard to how union demands would effect the financial viability of the employer.
3. Assume that there is pending legislation imposing a carbon credits system (there is) that would adversely effect the viability of an employer — the employer would be inhibited while the unions would be free to communicate the position of their environmental allies.
4. Assume that there is a significant tax increase to business pending (there is) — the employer would be inhibited while the unions would be free to communicate the “benefits” to their brothers and sisters in the public employee unions.
5. Assume that there is federal legislation pending that would supercede state law and impose abortion on demand and prohibit medical professionals (doctors and nurses) from refusing to perform abortions even though their religious or moral beliefs are to the contrary (there is) — the employer would be inhibited while the unions would be free to communicate the position of their allies in the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).
These are but a few instances. The legislation effectively limits political speech, religious speech, and employer speech while leaving the field clear for the unions and their allies. And if that were not enough, there is also a “kicker” for another Democrat ally — the trial lawyers association. Contained in the penalty section (Section 2.2) there is the ever popular trial lawyers demand:
“(2) . . . The court shall award a prevailing employee treble damages, together with reasonable attorney fees and costs.”
Please note that such an award only goes one way. There is no comparable provision for a prevailing employer. In other words if an employer wins, it gets nothing.
But the most frightening thing about bills such as SB 519 is that they are merely “the nose of the camel in the tent.” There seems to be a move afoot by liberals — and aided and abetted by their allies in the unions, the trial lawyers, and the pro-abortion advocates — to silence debate. It is much akin to the national efforts to deny employees a secret ballot during organizing efforts, to deny medical personnel the right to decline abortions for religious or moral beliefs, to impose the so-called “fairness doctrine” on talk radio, and to silence critics of gay marriage through the politics of personal destruction.
In a state where nude dancing and live sex acts are determined to be constitutionally protected forms of free speech and expression, it is hard to understand why Oregon’s legislature would tolerate anyone’s (and particularly the union’s self-serving) attempt to limit speech under SB 519.