Out of State Billionaires Are Attacking Oregon Workers

Working families in Oregon won major victories last year — and that means out-of-state billionaires are taking aim at our state. Find out what they're planning — and how you can stand up and fight back.

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As the 2016 election approaches, the Keep Oregon Working team is keeping close tabs on threats to unions and working families — on the ballots, in the courts, and on the streets. This year’s election is shaping up to be a busy one, and that means it’s more important than ever that we stick together. Here’s some of what the bad guys have in the works for Oregon:

Initiatives

The state’s largest timber companies are continuing their legacy of attacking Oregon’s working families. This year, they’ve filed several initiatives to game the system and receive a ballot title they find favorable. The problem? They’re all seriously anti-worker. Their latest attempt — IP 69 — received a draft ballot title on December 1st. This initiative requires that employers pay union and non-union workers differently. It creates two classes of workers, and will likely lead to the same result as most anti-union legislation: lower pay, less benefits, and less workplace safety for Oregonians.

Meanwhile, Loren Parks really is back, this time with IP 62, which received a certified ballot title on December 1st. Parks, as you may remember, was the chief funder of Bill Sizemore’s shenanigans and is the largest donor in Oregon political history. Six and seven figure checks are of no consequence to Parks, and he continues to fund a series of conservative anti-worker, anti-voter, anti-immigrant — basically anti-everything — measures. In a sign of things to come, Loren Parks made his biggest move yet this cycle by dropping $85,000 on two initiatives designed to limit the amount of information voters can receive about elections and limiting the Legislature’s ability to respond to emergencies. Parks is back, and that’s likely a bad thing for Oregon’s 2016 ballot.

The Freedom Foundation

This election isn’t just more of the same, though — there’s a new face on the anti-worker circuit. An extremist group intent on dismantling unions opened up shop in Oregon back in August  — they call themselves the Freedom Foundation. They’re funded by billionaires and big corporate interests, and they’re going to great lengths to spin a negative narrative about the work that unions do for working families. Since coming to Oregon, they’ve run TV, radio, and print ads to target union members; filed a couple of lawsuits; and started knocking on union member doors to intimidate members to drop their union support.

While the group has had limited effect, the attack is well funded and significant. The Freedom Foundation is funded by the secretive donor collective called the Donor Network, which is supported by the Koch Brothers, among others.

The Northwest Accountability Project, an organization dedicated to educating the public on issues that affect middle-class families and workers, is working hard to make sure that Freedom Foundation doesn’t push their agenda on Oregonians.

What can you do?

You are our eyes and ears on the ground! Reach out to us to let us know what you’re hearing. In particular, if you see petitioners on the street, let us know! The easiest way to make sure we’re as informed as possible is to fill out this petition report. Feel free to politely interact with petitioners, hear what they are saying, and let us know when and where you see them. This will be tremendously helpful for us to get a better sense of what we’re up against.

Our campaign continues to collect and share real stories from Oregon’s union members. It’s important that we show what being a union member really means and why unions matter — if you have a story to share, we’d love to hear it!

Please remember, you don’t need to wait for us to keep you posted: If you see something, read something, or hear something that makes you nervous or sparks a question, reach out. We’ll do everything we can to give you the information and tools you need to feel confident and prepared.