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Union shouldn't get classroom dollars

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus decision changed how public-sector unions can operate, those unions and their allies have been working to change laws to their advantage.

House Bill 2016 is one example in the Oregon Legislature. It basically hands Oregon’s public-sector unions a direct subsidy from the state and should be rejected.

The bill allows union members to work for the union while they are at work for their government job. In Oregon schools for example, it could divert money that could go to the classroom to pay people to work for unions during the school day. Why is that OK?

Under the bill, the state would collect fees for the unions. Why should the state perform that task? It should be up to the unions to figure out how to get their fees. The bill allows unions to use the government’s electronic mail system for its own purposes. Why should the state allow its system to be used by anyone else?

The bill also gives unions access to employee information that state may have without the employee’s consent — including an employee’s home and cellphone numbers, personal email address and home address. That is not right.

HB 2016 would do all those things and more.

Public-sector unions are entitled to represent state employees who want the union’s representation. That’s the law. But the state should not subsidize the unions. And it should not provide the unions with information that is otherwise exempt from public disclosure.

The Janus decision did arguably hurt the ability of such unions to collect fees, but it was for good reason. The court said public-sector unions must stop forcing nonmembers to pay fees in lieu of dues without their consent. The First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them, the court said.

That decision does not justify HB 2016.