Join a Union or Pay? Not So Fast, Say Oregonians

CascadeNewLogoA public opinion poll released this week reveals that 84% of Oregonians agree that employees should have the right to decide, without force or penalty, whether to join or leave a labor union.

The poll of 500 Oregon adults was conducted for National Employee Freedom Week, a grassroots campaign of 77 organizations in 44 states dedicated to helping union employees learn about their right to leave their unions.

The Oregon results are slightly higher than the national average. Nationwide, 82.9% of respondents support allowing union employees to leave their union without force or penalty, a concept known as Right to Work.

Currently, 24 states have passed Right to Work laws. Because of a deal struck by Governor John Kitzhaber in March, Oregonians won’t have the opportunity to end forced union dues in the public sector this year.

Unions often do as little as is required by law to inform their employees that they have the right to opt out. But as previous polling illustrates, over 33 percent of those in union households want to leave. Therefore, educational efforts like National Employee Freedom Week are needed to inform and educate union members about their workplace rights and empower them to make the decision about union membership that’s best for them.

You can learn more at Cascade Policy Institute’s new Oregon Employee Choice website,

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute.

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  • Sally

    Right to work is for sissies. I am a paying union member and my dues go to negotiations for better pay and benefits. Why should some loser who won’t chip in his or her fair share get those same raises and benefits for nothing? I say pay up or shut up. And pay up they all will, as Oregon will NEVER become a right to work state, whatever that means!

    • Gardenhomeboy

      You realize, sally, people aren’t allowed to opt out of benefiting from union negotiations? If I don’t want my contract to be negotiated by a union or with their hired help, I have no alternative. This is because unions use existing labor laws to force other employees to be part of the ‘collective bargaining unit’. You complain about free riders, but unions create the free rider problem and then use it a way to get fair share dues by force.

  • oregongrown

    It is wrong that government unions even exist. They are not skill based unions. Taxpayers do not get a better result with govt unions, we just pay more. And to be FORCED to join a government union in order to obtain a government job is wrong. It is the opposite of democracy.

    The people that want to join a union should join a union and those that don’t want to join to should get and retain their jobs based on job performance and skills. No one in government work should be forced to pay union dues to a union they do not want to belong to.

  • kernals

    Awesome double speak: over 33 percent of those in union households want to leave. A normal person would interpret that as 67% are happy with their unions.

    • guest

      D’oh yes, indeed, especially public employee unions causing real fiscal responsibility to be ripped to shreds. FDR was right-on with his concerns attending collective bargaining, folks.

    • Unions aren’t the enemy

      That 33% figure comes from Cascade Policy so take it for what it’s worth. This is a democracy and last time I checked 33% isn’t going to win an election. “Oregongrown’s”comment of not “skilled” shows a total lack of thought. The amount of education and training required to become a teacher, law enforcement officer or fireman is much greater than the average private sector worker. I’ve worked on both sides of this issue (union/non-union) so I feel somewhat qualified to comment. Usually the most ridiculous (best PC word I could think of) comments come from people who actually know very little about how a union works or what a union does. They just regurgitate political dribble they heard from some no-nothing radio hack.

      • kernals

        I gotta say, what happens when we start applying that logic everywhere? How about the 42% of Americans who wanted Walter Mondale to replace Ronald Reagan?

      • guest

        Your last sentence appears a discredit to your diatribe.

        • Proud union member

          Really? Have you read Larry H. post today? The r-t-w movement is all about political money and nothing else. Get rid of public employees unions and get rid of the money for Democrates. Are there any t.v., radio or print conservatives out there supporting unions? No, there are not.

          • guest

            Silly ploy! Paid dues for decades to a union closed shop that shirt tailed a larger union in terms of collective bargaining – yet today, pales in comparison to the practically unimaginable power exuded by Public Employee collective bargaining unionization.

            The nearest private sector entity is the ILWU, still a comparative panty waist compared to the SEIU, AFSCME and public teacher affiliations, etc.
            Hey proud one, if you’re public sector, plucky you, take a look at what you got and what the rest of US have not. Nice deal if you really earn it, yet like as not, all Joe Plumber sees is your butt sitting on more pie chart filling than cost effective common sense has meringue for.
            FDR was quite right to be wary of public unionization. The fox not only controls the henhouse, but darn near the entire animal farm.

  • Eric Blair

    I think the question asked can be interpreted in various ways. I wonder what the numbers would like if they had actually asked about fair share dues: people, believe it or not, might not consider that a penalty.

    • Sally

      The best way to find out is to end fair share and see how many of these people mail in their dues….guess what, it would not even be half….