Monday, August 18, 2008

I Won't Have My Voice Silenced!

Here in Oregon, we loves us some citizen initiative process for the expression of the "peoples" voices. Got an issue? Gather some signatures on a petition, get that issue on the ballot, and let the people have a say! No more tyranny from the fat cats in Salem! Democracy!!!

Of course, this is not how it works. Rich men with a political ax to grind pay young people to gather signatures on initiatives that everybody agrees to -- "Sign my petition to save kittens, sir?" -- and then they copy names and addresses on to completely unrelated petitions. Then millions are spent convincing the Oregon voter to vote in the interest of a very few rich men and/or corporations. Or for God. The Oregon voter loves having God's back when it comes to abortion, gays, or (Heaven forbid) marriage between gay abortionists.

This year the Oregon voter faces a bevy of ballot choices. The one most near and dear is Measure 64, which would cripple Oregon's unions. The initiative would prevent public employers from using payroll deduction for collecting union dues that could be used for political purposes.

As it works now, a public employee union member signs a dues deduction card, the employer deducts the union dues from the employee's paycheck and sends that money to the union. The union uses the money in any way it legally sees fit. If this measure were to pass, then a member would still sign a dues deduction card, the employer would deduct dues and send it to the union, but the union could not use that money for political purposes. If the union wanted to be involved in politics, then they would have to collect all that money on their own.

The measure basically seeks to fuck with Oregon's public employee unions.

As the days approach, I imagine that I will be writing frequently about this campaign. We have been getting better about forming coalitions to fend off these attacks from the right. Unfortunately, these coalitions tend to run to the center and at times advance tropes that are troubling for those of us on the left. (Perhaps Lips could favor us with a few remarks about "progressive nativism"). I imagine that I will find places to critique my own coalition as well as alerting you and all to the scurrilous propaganda of our enemies.

For instance, the powers that be have decided on the slogan "Don't Silence Our Voice." Not much different than the "Oregon Families Need a Voice" that Lips and I came up with, which is kind of scary given the state we were in when we thought up that slogan (hint: It wasn't Idaho). I'm not in love with the fact that they have chosen to make the main web address for this campaign which is hardly intuitive. seems available, so I am not sure why they went with the more-complicated-to-remember address. (Although redirects to And I know that Google magic will eventually happen, but right now searching for "no on 64" or "no on measure 64" on Google doesn't get you anywhere near this website, even if you add the word Oregon.

Anyway, first of many, I suppose. Since one of our authors is a ballot initiative expert, one is a local politics expert, and one of us deals with state legislatures for a living, we should be able to have a nice little discussion, no?


Lips Dexter said...

check out the CITIZEN JURY REVIEW Process spoken of in the above link. some non-profit is sponsoring what may turn out to be an 'electoral-politics' take on the Workers' Rights Board... i wonder if Sizemore is going to be at this event?

i am interested to see what new members enter into the "coalition" known as Defend Oregon. i think they are working mostly on that kind of "outreach" at the moment. it'd be good if they got the United Way on board, par example. or the Freemasons.

you've noticed the EFCA/MERKLEY crossover ad, yet? or the SEIU hit piece on Gordon Smith? it's weird, the anti-union nexus of the electoral and initiative campaigns.

dave3544 said...

The SEIU ad is pretty good. I have seen the EFCA hit piece on Merkley. I am still, as you know, very undecided if EFCA is worth it. Maybe I should talk it over with the 503 ladies.