State Rep. Greg Matthews (D-Gresham) says that Mayor Charlie Hales' fight against his pro-union bill is "laughable."

As WW reported this week, the city is lobbying senators to stop House Bill 2418, arguing that the bill would allow even police and fire chiefs into a union. The bill, sponsored by Matthews, has already passed the house.

A letter, signed by the entire City Council, says the bill—which allows anyone who cannot impose economic discipline on employees— would damage the city's efforts to implement the police reforms required by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"HB2418 proposes to define 'supervisory employees' for purposes of public employee collective bargaining law as those who can impose economic discipline," it reads. "Under our form of government only the Mayor or the Commissioner in Charge has actual authority to authorize economic discipline."

But Matthews, a Gresham firefighter, says that interpretation is "flat ridiculous." He got back to WW about the bill after our press deadline.

Matthews says that police and fire chiefs aren't included in the language of the bill, and it's not the intent to include police and fire chiefs in unions. Chiefs certainly have the ability to impose economic discipline, he argues, through hiring, firing and promotions.

"Nobody can hire or fire except the police commissioner," Matthews says. "Is the mayor hiring new police officers? No. It's the chief who is extending his hand, welcoming them to the bureau. It's just laughable, to pretend they have no authority at the chief level."

Matthews points out Hales is trying to break up the Police Commanders Union, and says the city's stance opposing his bill that would extend union coverage to more public workers is no coincidence. 

"I absolutely think that's their goal," Matthews says. "It's very apparent."