Two members of Oregon public employee unions Jan. 28 filed petitions seeking to place a measure on the November ballot that would remove lawmakers from office if they skip the legislative session for 10 days or more.
The ballot initiative—accompanied by another that would fine AWOL lawmakers $500 a day, dock their salary and prevent them from recouping the losses through political donations—is aimed at blocking tactics like the 2019 walkout by Republican senators that derailed a bill capping carbon emissions.
"Last year, senators walked off the job twice while still collecting a paycheck and fundraising off not showing up to work," said chief petitioners Andrea Kennedy-Smith (a member of Service Employees International Union) and Reed Scott-Schwalbach (a member of the Oregon Education Association) in a statement provided by Service Employees International Union Local 503. "Now, some are already making threats about another walkout this session. Regardless of their political party, if a legislator doesn't like a bill, it's their job to work to make it better and to vote their conscience. They should make their voices heard instead of shutting down our government."
WW first reported last week that public-employee unions had commissioned polling showing most state voters favor compelling lawmakers to attend sessions.
Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr. (R-Grants Pass) was not impressed.
"Do the union members get fired when they go on strike?" he asks. "Anyway, it's not constitutional. Anybody with half a brain knows that, except for the unions."
Baertschiger said his caucus—dismayed by an ambitious slate of Democratic legislation—was considering skipping the February legislative session altogether.
"The Democrats have came off the rail," he tells WW. "The Democrats have gone nuts. I'm thinking my caucus doesn't even show up and we get national attention for how crazy the Democrats are."