May 6, 2009
May 6, 2009
By J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon industries
Oregon’s largest business lobby
SB 519 Would Undermine Employer Ability to Talk to Employees. On a party-line vote, the Senate Commerce Committee approved SB 519 and sent the bill to the Senate floor, where the bill is expected to narrowly pass. In its current form, SB 519 undermines an employer from requiring attendance at an organization’s meeting concerning the employer’s opinions on “religious or political matters.” This also extends to the employer’s use of mandatory meetings to inform workers of the organization’s perspective on union organization; an employer right allowed under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) for more than seventy years.
The restrictions imposed on employers by this legislation would not only interfere with necessary and productive workplace communications, but also would restrict an organization’s ability to require employee attendance at certain meetings – even if such meetings were held during the workday and if employees were paid for their attendance.
Oregon employers already must comply with federal guidelines on how they can communicate with their employees regarding unionization. Such guidelines address when and how an employer can communicate its opinions, as well as what can and cannot be discussed in such meetings. Federal law is well-established and has provided balanced parameters on workplace communication that aptly addresses the interests of employers, unions and employees.
If SB 519 becomes law, it would severely inhibit an employer’s ability to communicate with its workers and, most importantly, would diminish the competitiveness of Oregon employers.
AOI will be urging Senators to vote ‘no’ on SB 519. A vote is expected next week (May 4-8).