Pro-Union Bill Passes Senate Despite Concerns Of Overreach

A bill designed to empower the role of public employee unions passed the Senate on Thursday, June 6, in a party line vote, 17-11. House Bill 2016 has a number of provisions, from new requirements for union representatives’ pay, to the way employees are able to opt into and out of union membership.  

Democrats supporting the bill, like Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Milwaukie), say “the bill clarifies how unions can serve their memberships… [and] how union officials can help their bargaining unit members make certain workers are treated fairly.” Among its many provisions are requirements to give union representatives “reasonable paid time” for union work done during the workday, and rule changes making it easier to opt into union by email or phone, but possibly more difficult to opt out. 

Although the bill passed along party lines, concerns about the changes in HB 2016 were not limited to Republican legislators. Earlier on in the bill’s development, it contained a provision that would have made the act of employers sharing employees’ personal information with anyone but unions an unfair labor practice. This piece was removed after it drew the attention of media and public interest groups. 

Union pay and membership are in turmoil nationwide after a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last year in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees [AFSCME] (2018). The court decided that employees who opted out of union membership could not be compelled to pay dues, a significant blow to unions’ ability to fund collective bargaining efforts.  

By Ian MacRonald