Oregon Legislature Bans ACCE Model Policy on Local Right to Work
In 2014, The American City County Exchange (ACCE) produced the only model policy on local right to work in the country. Recently, the Oregon legislature banned ACCE’s model policy and chose to take away any local authority that may have existed on the issue, while reaffirming the right of workplaces to require union security agreements and mandatory membership as employment conditions.
Jon Russell, the National Director for ACCE, is critical of the law, commenting that although the state legislature has the right to grant to remove powers from local governments, the may move may have more to do with protecting the interests of Big Labor. Despite union numbers dropping to an all-time low in 2016, large labor organizations have demonstrated the ability to sway legislators to protect their now-outsized influence. It is also notable that this move comes within a ground swell of public support for right-to-work on the state level, with four states passing legislation in the last year alone, highlighting the growing trend that Oregon legislators seem determined to be on the wrong side of.
Widely seen as a new battleground in states where right to work would not pass, local right to work policy can drive municipal level support, which can grow into state level support. This approach has already yielded significant results. Since 2014, 12 Kentucky counties and one city in Illinois, Lincolnshire, have passed local right to work. Kentucky followed up by passing right to work statewide in January of 2017. In 2016, local right to work won a major victory when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled local right to work is legal as long as the state grants permission. However, by passing a state ordinance, Oregon rules out any possibility of local right to work in the state. Local right to work in Illinois has also seen challenges from adversaries, as earlier this year a lawsuit spearheaded by local unions led to the striking down of local right to work in Lincolnshire. However, the mayor has stated they will appeal to the higher court, setting the stage for the issue to once again be ruled on by the U.S. Court of Appeals, where a favorable judgment could result in a decisive victory for right to work.
Local right to work is a groundbreaking issue that ACCE is at the forefront of. It has been praised by Kentucky Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell for allowing counties to “remain competitive” in the face of rising labor costs often controlled by union influence. ACCE is dismayed by the blocking of local governments to implement right to work, and will continue to strive to limit Big Labor’s influence in state governments. ACCE’s model policy on local right to work, the only such model policy in the country, can be found here and represents ACCE’s commitment to federalism and free markets.