Oregon Grassroots Working on 2002 Ballot Initiative

At least one initiative petition that would restrict the use of payroll deduction of union dues may be on the Nov. 2002 general election ballot in Oregon.  Since early Aug., supporters of Initiative Petition 18 have been gathering signatures, said Bill Sizemore, executive director of Oregon Taxpayers United. The initiative would apply to both public and private sector employees. It would prohibit payroll deductions by unions if any portion of the money is used for a political purpose without the employee’s annual written authorization.

Another measure, Initiative Petition 19, received a modified ballot title from the Oregon Supreme Court Aug. 24 . The measure applies only to public sector unions. It would prohibit the use of the payroll deduction process in collecting money by a union to be used for political purposes.

Under both measures, “political purposes” is defined to include making contributions to political candidates, parties, and committees. It does not including ordinary lobbying activities.

OTU will make a decision in a few weeks on whether or not to begin gathering signatures for the Initiative Petition 19. He said he was not happy with the wording changes the court made to the ballot title. The group plans to conduct some polling before deciding whether or not to proceed with the court-modified ballot title, he said.  Petitioners have until July 1, 2002, to gather 89,048 signatures for each of the proposed constitutional amendments. If the signatures are approved by the secretary of state’s office, the initiatives will be placed on the Nov. 2002 general election ballot.

The petitions come less than year after voters defeated two similar ballot initiatives, Measure 92 and Measure 98, in the Nov. 2000 election. Labor groups raised $ 5 million in their effort to defeat the measures. Supporters of the initiatives spent $5,000, Sizemore said.  Two years earlier, in 1998, yet another similar initiative, Measure 59, was defeated by Oregon voters. In that battle, unions spent $4 million. [BNA 9/13/01]