Oregon Dems play ball; Washington Dems lack ‘em

The Oregon Senate passed SB 519 yesterday, by a 16-14 margin, a bill that prohibits employers from holding mandatory meetings to discuss religion, politics or union organizing. Sound familiar? It was a similar bill that got Washington Democratic leaders so flustered last session that they actually called the cops on the unions in the cynical, insulting and cowardly ploy they used to justify tabling the controversial measure.

It’s not clear what prospects the bill faces in the Oregon House; more than a few Democratic senators only voted for it reluctantly, and Oregon Democrats don’t hold nearly the majority their counterparts enjoy in the Washington legislature. But at least they let it come to the floor for a vote instead of fucking over one of their core constituencies.

Over the past few weeks one house or the other of the Oregon legislature has voted to increase taxes, close corporate tax loopholes, and protect worker privacy… all agenda items that were strictly off the table in Olympia during our recently ended session? Why? Well, I can only assume that, metaphorically speaking, Oregon’s Democratic leadership has balls, and ours doesn’t?

Or perhaps Frank is waiting for Gov. Rob McKenna before attempting to enact a progressive agenda?


  1. 1

    Piper Scott spews:

    The fact that the measure is of dubious Constitutionality and subject to the doctrine of federal pre-emption renders the Oregon exercise moot. cf Chamber of Commerce v. Brown that overturned a similar California law.

    Why do you people constantly hang your hat on patently improbable pegs of tenuous and dubious legality?

    The Piper

  2. 2

    ArtFart spews:

    Hmmmm…I worked as a contractor for a company that wasn’t unionized, that merged with another with about half of their employees belonging to a union. They held mandatory meetings (I didn’t have to go, because I was a contractor) in which, among other things, they informed the regular employees that management was perfectly cool with the union, and everyone had the option of joining or not.

    How would Oregon’s law apply, moot or otherwise?

  3. 3

    LaborGoon spews:

    If Oregon’s legislation is similar to the proposal Democratic leaders killed in Washington, employers could still conduct such meetings and talk until they are blue in the face about how much they hate (or love) unions, churches, candidates, charities, etc.

    However, if an employee opted not to attend such a meeting — about matters of individual conscience that have nothing to do with the job — and the employer fired or punished said employee for refusing to attend, the employee could pursue legal action against the employer just as if he or she had been discriminated against for other reasons.

    As for Chamber v. Brown, in that case the Supreme Court ruled that the State of California couldn’t stop employers who receive public subsidies (state tax breaks) from conducting anti-union meetings. It was considered an illegal infringement on the employers’ First Amendment rights.

    The Oregon and Washington legislation is different. Employers are free to conduct such meetings and say whatever they want. It is the act of disciplining or firing an employee exercising his or her First Amendment rights (the right not to listen) that is restricted.

    This is America. People can say (almost) anything they want. But if we don’t want to listen, we necessarily have the right to walk away, change the channel, or read something else. Why should our freedom and rights be checked at our employers’ doorsteps? They are paying us to do a job, not to be indoctrinated into their way of thinking.

  4. 4

    Piper Scott spews:


    You don’t mention federal pre-emption, which, in this case, is NLRA and appropriate case law governing mandatory employee meetings.

    Or, for that matter, the annoyance factor when an employee claims a meeting is one he needn’t attend because in his opinion it covers a proscribed subject. So much hogwash.

    Mandatory meetings are on company time. Sit down, shut up, and be thankful you have a job.

    The Piper

  5. 5

    ArtFart spews:

    4 Right. If my employer wants to pay me to sit and listen to him bloviate about whatever he wants to, fine. If agreeing with him becomes a condition for continued employment….that’s another matter.

  6. 6

    tiresias spews:

    Well said Piper and ArtFart. If you don’t like what your employer is doing, find a different job.

  7. 7

    The Pooping Viking spews:

    Employers have a habit of keeping black books on employees, particularly ones they fear will make waves for them. A potential labor organizer or member is rarely fired for the actual reason they are being fired.

    The reason given for the firing is a pretense. You have to find a way to get into the ‘other’ file that they keep on employees to document that you are being treated illegally.

    Former employers (even large ones) are amazingly docile once they know you have proof of their criminality.

    They will even pay you large summs of money to drop your suit.

  8. 8

    Piper Scott spews:



    Conspiracy theories!!! Hidden files, black books, phony firings!

    Your home life growing up must have been a real terror.

    Here’s a better premise: If you don’t like what you hear on company time – time for which you are compensated – then quit.

    If you don’t like a company holding such meetings, then form your own company and don’t hold them.

    How mountainous are these mole hills…

    The Piper

  9. 9

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    In Washington, the “Democratic Party” is run by Republicans calling themselves by a different name, and the people calling themselves “Republicans” are escaped inmates from Western State.

  10. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Only Big Business can afford to buy politicians at today’s prices, and consequently Big Business is the only constituency represented in Olympia. The rest of us don’t count for squat.

  11. 11

    tpn spews:

    #7 is correct. Read all of the labor relations textbook literature on “union avoidance”. No conspiracy in the dark–they are fairly open about it. Try “union awareness for Borders managers” and “labor relations in hospitals”.

  12. 12

    The Pooping Viking spews:

    re 8: It’s not a ‘theory’. It’s happened to me exactly as I described.

    And I won. You are the nutcase for being so in favor of public morality — as long as it has to do with sexual mores and other such nonsense.

    I still have the legal papers. I can quote you enough from them to prove that I am not lieing.

  13. 13

    proud leftist spews:

    8 and 12
    Pretextual firings (coming up with some legitimate sounding reason for terminating an employee when illegal reasons are the true motivation) are so common that they have become a form of art among corporate human resources personnel. I think I know what I’m talking about, having litigated many such cases. You have a tough argument here, Piper.

  14. 14

    seabos84 spews:

    @9 and @10 – I’m going to the 36th District Dems on thursday night JUST to ask people…

    WHY are we voting for these people?

    the main career accomplishments of kohl-wells and dickerson seem to be whining that lying thieves are lying so they can steal.

    funny how ‘populism’ is frequently associated with the pitchfork pat crowd, when in fact we NEED non fascist populism, AND I believe it would sell quite well.

    of course, it would disrupt the lock on power of the college ‘educated’ whiner class.


  15. 15

    Michael spews:

    So, if your a pharmacist and you don’t want to give out Plan B pills do to your religion that’s cool. But, that same pharmacist can get canned for not wanting to hear about his boss’s religion?


  16. 16

    The Pooping Viking spews:

    re 15: It’s all about control.

    What do you suppose they are all afraid of?

    I know a few middle management types who got canned because I was smarter and hipper than they thought.

    Someone like the ‘Piper’ would go down easy — since he apparently isn’t even aware of reality. Reality is a ‘conspiracy theory’ to him.

  17. 17

    The Pooping Viking spews:

    You know how to spot a chump? It’s someone who thinks you can ‘change things from the inside.”

    The Statue of Liberty is a gift from a people who discovered otherwise.

  18. 18

    Piper Scott spews:


    Poor boy…How little you know of me.

    I spent three years as a business agent/organizer for a local of the SEIU, so I’ve seen a lot of what you allege, which is what much of it is…and merely that.

    Have trouble finding and holding jobs do you?

    The Piper

  19. 19

    proud leftist spews:

    Scott @18
    Hey, man, I really don’t think you’re drinking from the reality cup lately. The sense of humor remains, but otherwise I’m not so sure. Doing okay?

  20. 20

    Piper Scott spews:


    Doing fine. Living in Oly now (actually Lacey). Have my oldest son, SFC Mark with me until he leaves for another tour in Kuwait in two weeks.

    As to the reality cup? I’ve seen the so-called “constructive discharge” thing scammed too many times to give it more credance than it deserves. And the Oregon measure at issue? It’s a total crock and effectively a way for disgruntled types to poke a sharp stick in the boss’ eye just for the hey of it.

    As long as the employee is getting paid for his time, what’s the big deal?

    BTW…I envied your fishing illustration. Smooth!

    The Piper

  21. 21

    proud leftist spews:

    Nothing like catching hogs on a dry. Makes a guy feel better about almost everything.

    As you know, I’m both an employer and someone who represents employees. I had to fire someone a couple weeks ago. Tore my heart out, though she thoroughly deserved it. Her boyfriend was on unemployment at the time. She said, when told of her fate, that she didn’t know where they’d live. Ultimately, that is, of course, not my problem. I don’t want to pay someone for cruising the web. I suspect you would agree.

  22. 22

    Piper Scott spews:


    Gawd…I better not ever go to work for you!

    But, as the employer who pays the wages, you have a right to set performance expectations and insist that they be met. Unfortunately, these days too many people haven’t got a clue in that regard.

    My experience is that most employers don’t want to waste time dinking with their employees. It’s simply a stupid exercise since they’re in business to make money, and they need the crew to get the job done.

    Had a CEO tell me once (I stole the line and use it often) that the most important employee in the company was the machine operator – everyone else was overhead. He saw to it that the machine operator was paid and treated well and given all the support necessary.

    The company never had even anything close to a successful union organizing campaign.

    Are there crappy employers? Sure…just like there are crappy employees. But it’s tough enough in today’s business climate to make a go of it without adding another set of silly government rules that simply invite mischief.

    I’m convinced based upon what I’ve seen and heard that this proposed law, just like the one in Washington state that was pulled, wasn’t proposed because of a demonstrable problem, but because it could be used as a club to whack the boss. Let’s call BS for what it is.

    One of these days I’ll have to get a fishing license and wet a line again. It’s been a long time.

    The Piper

  23. 23

    Broadway Joe spews:

    Piper, I’ll have to side with you on this issue, even though in this economy workers have a hard enough time just holding on to what they’ve got, and really shouldn’t have to put up with such things just to hold on to that job. And I’ll agree with you that there are a whole lot of employers that have no clue how to be a boss. But I figure that I could endure most any boss’ encouragements and discouragements and mouth his his party line if need be, so long as there was no better opportunity to move to. At least I’d try. I myself have held several jobs where I was frequently ‘encouraged’ to attend various churches (and always of the extremely conservative Pentecostal variety) by my employers. Fortunately my past employers were generally gullible enough to buy my carefully worded and entirely plausible excuses.

    In the end, I guess that’s why I love being a professional musician and courier as much as I do. As much as I may be hamstringing myself in terms of earning potential, I find it to be a fair enough trade in order to be able to earn a living largely independent of any traditional workplace hierarchy. At one job, I am my own boss, and when I’m working the other I never see my boss until it’s payday.

  24. 24

    The Pooping Viking spews:

    Well, we all are old enough to know what a Good German is. I guess in hard times, you follow the boss’s orders — or at least pretend to.

    You’d better be a good pretender though. I’m sure Piper can teach us a lot about that.