Freedom Foundation Vows Suit if DOC Contract Substitutes Union Loyalty for Seniority

By Freedom Foundation —

AFSCME 75’s plan to reward union loyalty rather than workplace seniority for Oregon State Corrections workers is both illegal and unconstitutional, and the Freedom Foundation is poised to take legal action if union officials sign a collective bargaining agreement with these provisions.

Earlier this year, AFSCME 75 began circulating a “survey” to its members in which one of the questions asked whether they would be in favor of these perks being handed out not according to actual seniority but instead to those most demonstrably supportive of the union.

Specifically, every employee who is also a union member would be entitled to first pick of benefits such as holidays and vacation time before the first nonmember — irrespective of either’s years of service.

Last week, AFSCME 75 representatives put these new “seniority-based-on-membership” provisions into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement it is negotiating with the Department of Corrections.

The Freedom Foundation, a West Coast-based nonprofit policy organization, responded on April 24 with a letter notifying DOC officials its attorneys plan to file a lawsuit if a CBA including such provisions is passed.

“This sort of favoritism is a brazen violation of state law and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” said Freedom Foundation attorney Rebekah Millard. “Under Oregon law, an employer cannot discriminate against its employees based on union membership, and attempts to tie work benefits to membership status constitute an Unfair Labor Practice.”

The state is also on thin ice, she noted, when it discriminates against a worker because of his or her exercise of the First Amendment right to not pay moneyto a union.

“If the state puts stock in taking care of its employees, in abiding by state and federal law or even in its own bottom line in avoiding litigation,” Millard said, “it would do well to reject these Oregon AFSCME 75 shenanigans.”