WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?
by Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett 2/11/11
The most audacious bill yet introduced
in the current Legislative session may
well be Senate Bill 666. The aptly
numbered bill was introduced in the
committee on General Government and
Small Business Protection late last
week. It seeks to establish foster
parents as public employees for purposes
of labor activities.
Notwithstanding the fact that by the
provisions of Oregon law, foster parents
are not public employees, the bill
provides that foster parents are public
employees for the sole purpose of
including them in public employee
The Oregon Constitution limits the
number of public employees to no more
than one and one half percent of the
state population. This calculates to no
more than about 57,000 state employees.
For that reason, SB 666 makes it clear
that foster parents are not, for any
other purpose, considered to be public
employees of the state of Oregon, or any
other public body.
Only those foster parents who maintain a
state certification to provide foster
care in their own homes would be
included in the public employee union
bargaining unit. The labor contracts for
these foster parents would be negotiated
by the Department of Administrative
Services representing the state and by
an appropriate bargaining unit of foster
parents. That appropriate bargaining
unit would almost certainly be the
Service Employees International Union
If passed, SB 666 would provide that the
parents in as many as 4,400 Oregon
foster homes could be added to the rolls
of the public employee union. This would
serve to swell the membership of the
SEIU by yet another six to seven
thousand dues paying members.
Two landmark bills opened the floodgates
for this kind of unrestricted public
employee union expansion in Oregon.
HB 2891, the 2007 “card check” bill,
eliminated the opportunity for a secret
ballot to decide whether workers wished
to join a union. The act provides that a
union must be joined when one more than
fifty percent of the eligible workers
have signed an intent card.
A union spokesman states that “With
card-check, you have to have a true
majority whereas in an election just
those who choose to vote get to decide”.
With card check you get a union without
the extra step of holding an actual
No restrictions appear to exist
regarding how much, and what kind, of
pressure may be applied to help a worker
decide to sign the intent card. The card
check legislation passed with only one
Republican vote in the entire
legislature. The most recent example of
card check unionization occurred at
Klamath Community College where 70
employees were included in the union
without a secret ballot vote.
HB 3279 was enacted in 2009 and provided
that adult foster home providers could
be considered public employees only for
the purpose of joining the union. These
home care providers are not public
employees for any purpose other than
being subjected to unionization.
According to the Northwest Labor Press,
at least 43,000 Oregon state employees
are union represented while only a few
thousand are not union members. If the
public employee unions are to continue
to grow, and continue to expand their
political influence, they must enlarge
the pool of potential union members.
During the past two years, the SEIU used
the card check process to become the
bargaining agent for more than 7,500
Oregon foster care union dues paying
members. The 2009 legislative gift of
adult foster care providers afforded the
opportunity to increase their union
membership by about 7,500 workers who
are legally not public employees.
SB 666 would potentially add yet another
gift of 6,500 workers to their union
membership who are also not legally
public employees. This bill has little
chance of being enacted because the
Republican Party should have enough
votes to stop it movement. However, the
progress toward total control of our
state government that the public
employment unions have achieved in the
past four years is something that all
voters should consider.
Please remember, if you do not stand up
for rural Oregon no one will.