Northwest labor press. (Portland , Ore.) 1987-current, June 16, 2006, Page 8, Image 8

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    Signature deadline nears
17 initiative petitions being circulated
Once again in Oregon, voters will be
asked to make the law, with initiatives
crowding the November 2006 ballot.
Seventeen measures are actively cir-
culating this year. Oregon initiative peti-
tions campaigns have until July 7 to turn
in signatures. Not all of them will make
it. But the Oregon AFL-CIO is hoping
to get the jump on political season, and
has started to educate political coordina-
tors at affiliated unions about some of
the measures likely to be on the ballot.
The labor federation’s Committee on
Political Education (COPE) has taken
positions on several initiatives. It will re-
visit those initiatives to decide a plan of
action when it meets in mid-July.
Unions will likely oppose:
• A state spending limit - i.e., limiting
spending on schools, roads, prisons,
seniors. The measure creating the most
anxiety is an amendment to the Oregon
Constitution that would set a state
spending limit. It’s modeled after a
measure passed in Colorado in 1992. If
voters approve it, state government
spending will not be allowed to increase
at a greater rate than population growth,
plus inflation. That might sound reason-
able, particularly to those who think
state spending is growing at too great a
rate. But the measure’s critics say the
limit puts a straightjacket on the elected
Legislature, preventing it from respond-
ing to crises — like a spate of crum-
bling bridges, an increase in crime, or
high unemployment. Plus they say,
“population plus inflation” ignores fis-
cal realities that are a little more com-
plex. For example, seniors require more
public services than the average citizen,
and as the baby boomers age, there will
be more seniors. A population could
stay the same, and yet get older and be
more expensive to serve. Plus, a big part
of the state budget is health care, and the
cost of health care is rising faster than
inflation, which is calculated based on
the cost of a standard bread basket of
consumer items. Colorado saw its state
services dwindle dramatically as the
spending limit took its toll year after
year. Last year, Coloradans voted to sus-
pend the limit.
• A complicated tax limitation — i.e.,
Bill Sizemore’s long shadow. Union foe
Bill Sizemore is hampered in his politi-
cal work by a court order, after a jury
found systematic use of fraud pervaded
his ballot measure machine. But Russ
Walker and former Sizemore disciple
Carol Bobo are carrying on his legacy.
Their current proposal, which was writ-
ten by Sizemore, would allow an “in-
come tax deduction equal to the federal
exemptions deduction to substitute for
the state exemption credit.” Confused?
There will be plenty of time to study it
before ballots are due. But basically it’s
a way to rewrite the state tax code and
cut taxes (and therefore state revenue,
and therefore spending, ie. schools,
roads, prisons, seniors, the mentally ill.)
• A revision of campaign finance
laws. Year after year, activists Dan
Meek and Harry Lonsdale have pushed
tougher campaign spending limits. As
they’ve written them, the limits would
apply to campaign contributions and in-
dependent political expenditures by
unions as well as corporations. The Ore-
gon AFL-CIO opposes them on the
grounds that working people have a hard
enough time getting heard without fur-
ther restrictions on their unions’ politi-
cal activity.
A handful of measures are expected
to get union support, including several
that are being actively led by unions:
• Beefing up staffing at nursing
homes. Expect to hear a lot about bad
conditions in nursing homes. Unions
that represent nursing homes are hoping
this will be a no-brainer: require nursing
homes to meet an acceptable minimal
level of staffing.
• Declaring health care a fundamen-
tal right. If state legislator Mitch Green-
lick is right, putting health care in the
Oregon Constitution (alongside educa-
tion) will make the Legislature do some-
thing to make sure every Oregonian has
access to health care.
• Allowing any Oregonian without
prescription drug coverage to join a
state Prescription Drug Bulk-Purchas-
ing Pool. Last year, the Legislature was
too timid or too bought-out to expand
Oregon’s fledgling prescription drug
purchasing pool in a way that made the
program big enough to be most effec-
tive. So, true to the original intent of the
Oregon ballot initiative process, the pro-
posal is being taken to the people, by the
people (unlike a couple of the union-op-
posed measures, which are backed al-
most entirely by out-of-state money.)
Local Motion
May 2006
Union election activity in Oregon and Vancouver,
according to the National Labor Relations Board
and the Oregon Employee Relations Board
Elections held
CBS Radio Stations/KINK-FM (decertification)
Umpqua Community College (classified)
Oregon Education Assoc.
Armadillo Underground
CWA Local 7906
Oregon State Lottery
SEIU Local 503
City of Forest Grove (decertification)
AFSCME Council 75
Forest Grove
# of employees
Twin Oaks Rehab & Specialty Care
Service Employees International Union Local 503
7911 SE 82nd Ave.
Portland, Oregon
Sweet Home
Sherms Thunderbird (decertification)
Bakers Local 114
Southgate Mobile & RV Park
Elections requested
Washington Demilitarization (decertification)
Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 290
127 165
Broadway Floral
for the BEST flowers call
Spaces Available up to 35’
1638 NE Broadway, Portland
JUNE 16, 2006