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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Group Challenges Public Employee Unions With Lawsuit

Oregon DOT

An Olympia-based libertarian group called the Freedom Foundation is laying down stakes in Oregon by filing a lawsuit against the state’s largest public employee union.

“Unfortunately, attacking workers’ rights does not stop at the Washington border,” Freedom Foundation attorney David Dewhirst said. “It happens in all 50 states and so our mission is to protect workers’ rights where the workers may be.”

Dewhirst said the Freedom Foundation filed a class action lawsuit against Service Employees International Union Local 503 and Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Wednesday.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed in Washington this year. It challenges whether unions should be able to bargain for workers exclusively and demands refunds for workers they say were forced to pay dues.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that public employees could not be forced to pay union dues.

SEIU members contacted public radio to say they felt patronized by the lawsuit and that they chose to be in the union.