NFIB joins lawsuit against Oregon Employer Gag Law

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Small Business Challenges Oregon’s ‘Gag’ Law Favoring Unions
Law prohibits employers from educating their employees on the consequences of unionization
National Federation of Independent Business

Washington, D.C. March 31, 2010 — The National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center joined the legal fight today against Oregon’s law, SB 519, that directly prohibits employers from holding mandatory workplace meetings in private businesses to discuss the effects of unionization on their business.

NFIB filed a friend-of-the-court brief in federal court supporting the challenge of SB 519, urging the court to find that federal labor law preempts SB 519 and therefore Oregon’s law must be struck down.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable that the Oregon Legislature thinks it’s legal to pass a law trampling over employers’ First Amendment rights and forbidding private employers from meeting with their employees to discuss the effects of unionization,” said Karen Harned, executive director, NFIB Small Business Legal Center. “Employers have every right to educate their employees about what unionization at their business would mean for employees. In order to protect the rights of employers, it’s imperative that the federal court step in and invalidate SB 519.”

SB 519 is even more intrusive than a California statute that was recently struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court because it directly prohibits a form of communications between employers and their employees in private workplaces that has been recognized and protected by federal labor law for the past 60 years.

“No state has ever before enacted a law that so directly interferes with the right of private employers to communicate with their own employees,” said Harned. “SB 519 needs to be overturned in order to preserve the longstanding balance of interests between employers and unions established under federal labor law.”

The case is Associated Oregon Industries and Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Brad Avakian and Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local No. 296. Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. and the Council on Labor Law Equality joined NFIB in filing the friend-of-the-court brief.