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Towers v. Rosenblum

Supreme Court of Oregon, En Banc

September 12, 2013

Arthur TOWERS, Gail Rasmussen, and Bethanne Darby, Petitioners,
v.
Ellen ROSENBLUM, Attorney General, State of Oregon, Respondent.

On Petitions to Review Ballot Title Filed May 7, 2013.

Considered and Under Advisement Aug. 6, 2013.

Steven C. Berman of Stoll Stoll Berne Lokting & Shlacher, P.C., Portland, filed the petition and response for petitioner Towers.

Margaret S. Olney of Bennett, Hartman, Morris & Kaplan LLP, Portland, filed the petition and response for petitioners Rasmussen and Darby.

Page 1137

Douglas F. Zier, Assistant Attorney General, Salem, filed the answering memorandum for respondent. With him on the answering memorandum were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General.

Jill Gibson Odell, Beaverton, filed the amicus curiae memorandum for herself.

Paul Gamson, Portland, filed the memorandum for amici curiae Tom Chamberlain and Patrick Green.

LANDAU, J.

[354 Or. 127] Petitioners seek review of the Attorney General's certified ballot title for Initiative Petition 9 (2014), arguing that the ballot title does not satisfy the requirements of ORS 250.035(2). We review a certified ballot title to determine whether it substantially complies with those statutory requirements. See ORS 250.085(5) (stating standard of review). For the reasons that follow, we refer the ballot title to the Attorney General for modification.

Initiative Petition 9, if adopted by the voters, would amend several provisions of the Oregon Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA). PECBA currently allows public employers and unions to enter into " fair-share" union security agreements. ORS 243.666(1); ORS 243.672(1)(c). Under those agreements, public employees choosing not to join a union are nevertheless responsible for a proportional share of the representation costs incurred by the union, collected as " payment-in-lieu-of-dues" sums. ORS 243.650(10); Dale v. Kulongoski, 321 Or. 108, 111-12, 894 P.2d 462 (1995).

Initiative Petition 9 declares that " [a] person shall have the individual freedom of choice in the pursuit of public employment" and that no one may be required either to join or not join a labor organization as a condition of public employment. It further provides that, " [i]f an employee does not choose to join and participate in a labor organization, such employee shall not pay an amount of money in-lieu-of-dues to a labor organization, another organization, or third party as a condition of employment." That type of legislation is often referred to by its popular political slogan, " right to work."

The Attorney General certified the following ballot title for Initiative Petition 9:

" BALLOT TITLE: Prohibits compulsory payment of union representation costs by public employees choosing not to join union
" Result of ‘ Yes' Vote: ‘ Yes' vote prohibits requiring represented public employees who choose not to join union to make compulsory ‘ payment in ...

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