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How the IPO went major


Yesterday IVN.US one of the most popular news sources for the independent voter movement, published an essay about the origins, emergence, and future of the Independent Party of Oregon.

While the IPO was founded on the more modest goal of assuring that any non affiliated candidate would have access to the Oregon ballot, it turned out that voters of all ideologies started joining the party to achieve much greater goals.

One thing that undoubtedly accelerated the IPO’s growth was that it’s formation coincided with the growing unhappiness with the two major parties. Specifically how they conducted elections, and especially the role that money plays in our elections and within the two major parties internal machinations. However this large influx of members with broadly represented political persuasions caused a bit of a dilemma for the leaders of the IPO who were at heart more progressive and democratic than not. From the essay:

The rapid growth of the party was not fueled by massive voter registration efforts, but merely by the presence of the Independent Party being an option on the ballot and the voter registration card. Democrats and Republicans claim voter confusion, but the reality is that voters *want* an Independent Party option. 11 percent of Oregonians identify as Independent Party members, even though only 5 percent of voters are currently registered with the party.

For the people who formed the party, this created an ethical dilemma: Could a relatively small number of officers claim to speak for a much larger number of people unless they asked members what they actually thought about candidates and issues? The answer is “no,” obviously. So the party opted for democracy.

Yet, the decision to find consensus among party members paid off. Maybe not for all of the leaderships progressive ideals, but certainly for the disaffected voters in Oregon who hungered for reasonably moderate candidates who were interested in the peoples business and not the Democratic versus Republican ideological battles . Because even though party members came from all parts of the political spectrum, it seemed there were policies that most people – regardless of ideology- supported. And that was a bit of a pleasant surprise.

The Agenda has been set and the Party is poised to become a broader movement supporting Independent candidates that are now emerging to challenge the current large donor dominated politics in Oregon.

GOP and IPO tickets


The GOP’s state office dry spell makes this summers weather look like a monsoon. Nonetheless, the GOP is still considered the opposition party in Oregon. Even though it hasn’t put up much opposition in statewide races in the last 10 years. In fact, it’s been 30 years since there has been a Republican Governor.

But could the Democratic favorites be challenged in statewide races this year? Possibly, but it may not be the GOP that presents the Democrats biggest challenges.

For Governor, the only GOP candidates who have announced an intent to run for State offices are Dr. Bud Pierce a medical doctor who has never held elective office who has announced for Governor. And Jeffrey Gudman, a Lake Oswego city councilor who announced his interest for the office of State Treasurer and has started raising money(though less than $10,000 so far).

No Republican has announced their candidacies for Secretary of State or Attorney General. And, given the last several election cycles, serious GOP candidates may be hard to come by given the dominance of the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile rumor has it that Sen. Betsy Johnson (For Governor) and Bend City Council person/ former State Senator/CPA / Lottery Commissioner Chris Telfer (For Treasurer) could end up at the top of the ticket for the new major Party – Independent Party of Oregon. A moderate experienced current State Democratic Senator and a moderate experienced former Republican State Senator is an impressive ticket.

Ms. Telfer has already registered as an IPO member so doesn’t have to announce her candidacy until March, 2016. However, Sen. Johnson is (as far as I know) still a registered Democrat. She would have to register with the IPO by September 10th to be eligible for the IPO nomination so she needs to make a decision in the next two weeks. If she does re-register as an Independent it would be a pretty good indication that she is going to seek the IPO nod for Governor. Though she could re-register but not announce her intent until later. But de-registering from the Democratic Party is a serious matter. You don’t leave fight club.

Another possible sign that Sen. Johnson is going to run as an Independent would be Ms. Telfer’s announcement of her candidacy for Treasurer. Having Johnson and Telfer at the top of the IPO ticket would provide more gravitas to the IPO nomination so would benefit both. And since it would be an historical event, and both Ms. Telfer and Sen. Johnson have a plenty of history here in Oregon to mine, an IPO ticket of Johnson/Telfer should provide the media with a lot of story lines and content. Because frankly, there is little GOP news to cover and little DPO intrigue (Except in the Secretary of State race, which according to The Oregonian Editorial Board is shaping up as a race involving Valdemort, Darth Vadar and Marie Antoinette.


A ‘top one’ primary


In Oregon and nationally the independent movement continues to gain momentum which, here in Oregon with its closed primary, presents a real challenge to democracy.

In 2014, some voters rights activists got the Top Two primary Measure 90 on the ballot, which if passed would have changed Oregon’s closed primary to an open top two primary. It failed after the Democrats and Republicans joined forces to argue it was an infringement on their right to have their members select their own nominees.

But Oregon could have a primary system that protected a political parties right to select it’s own representative, allowed minor parties to preserve their place on the November general election ballot and still gave independent voters an equal vote and meaningful participation in the state financed May primary elections.

The Top One Primary wouldn’t replace Oregon’s closed Democratic and Republican Primaries. It would supplement it. Democratic and Republican party members would be allowed to vote for their party’s nominee in a closed primary with the winner moving onto the November ballot as their party nominee. Democrats and Republicans should be satisfied.

However, along with the closed major party primary, the state would also conduct an open Top One election.

Who would vote: The top one would be open to all non affiliated voters, and to any minor or major party voters whose political party opted into the top one election. So all voters in Oregon would be able to participate in the Democratic or Republican closed primary, in the top one primary, or in their minor party’s nomination process. All Oregonians pay for the primary election. All get to vote. An equal right to participate for all voters, without having to join a party they don’t want to belong to. And party unity is preserved for those major and minor parties who decide to hold their own nomination processes.

Who Could be candidates: Any registered voter would be able to run in the top one primary. Regardless of party affiliation or lack of affiliation. While there is a valid argument that a party should be able to decide who gets to vote for their nominee, there is no valid reason for a party to be able to say which of their party members can stand for election before the voters through an alternative nominating process. And, an optional provision would be to allow a candidate for their own party’s nomination to be a candidate in the Top One open primary as well. This would provide for cross nominations that are now allowed in Oregon. So, the winner of the Republican Primary may also be the winner of the top one open primary if they chose to opt into their party election and the Top One primary.

The benefits:

All voters feel like they have an equal voice and equal vote.
All taxpayers who finance the primary election would be able to fully participate
It may be less expensive and more predictable to run elections with a Top One than under current law which allows each major party to open or close their primary.
Political parties could protect their right to nominate their own candidates
A Democratic or Republican who felt they stood little chance of winning their primary (a pro choice Republican, an PERS reform Democrat), could opt to run in the top one primary without having to re-register.
If we also allowed a candidate to be included on both their party closed primary ballot and the top one open primary, then they couldn’t just run towards their base. They would have to appeal to the moderate independents if they wanted both their party and the top one nomination.

Imagine a Ballot in November that included the Democratic nominee, representing 38% of Oregon voters preference, a Republican nominee representing 29% of Oregonian voters preference, and the Top One candidate representing 29% of Oregonians preference. Imagine if major party candidates were allowed to be on the open top one primary ballot as well as their party closed primary ballot. In a swing district where the predominant party nominee generally wins by 8% the primary campaigning of both the dominant and less dominant party candidates may change because both would have to campaign and communicate with the independent voters in their district, not just their partisan bases.

Preserve Party prerogatives and rights. All voters have meaningful participation. Encourages consensus campaigns, not just campaigns to the partisan base. Provides a path for moderates from both major parties a chance at securing a major nomination, major media coverage. Most importantly, it provides real options in November for not only independent voters, but for Democratic and Republican registered voters who prefer consensus to confrontation.

Whats not to like?

(For purposes of this article, my reference to major party includes only the Democratic and Republican Parties and not the Independent Party of Oregon which just recently reached major party status)

A Johnson candidacy


The East Oregonian reported yesterday on the speculation that Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) may be preparing to run for Oregon Governor.

The long time Democrat however is taking a different path. Understanding the difficulty of running as a centrist/conservative Democrat in the Oregon Democratic primary against a sitting liberal Democratic she is reportedly thinking of running as a candidate of the Independent Party of Oregon.

One meeting the East Oregonian didn’t mention in it’s list of hints that Sen. Johnson may run as an IPO candidate was an August 4th presentation to the Bend Chamber of Commerce. There, Sen. Johnson appeared on a political panel that included Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) and two leaders from the IPO, Party Secretary Sal Peralta, and Party Counsel (and Oregon Outpost Editor) Rob Harris.

For the record, Senator Johnson stole the show and thrilled the main street business audience. Her connection to small and medium size town business interests can’t be denied. While she wouldn’t stand a chance in the Democratic primary, a Betsy Johnson / Kate Brown race for Governor would give Oregon voters a real choice in November.

Much more competitive than a race between Kate Brown and a (Pierce / Alley / Wehby) perennial losing GOP candidate. In fact, in a Brown v. Johnson race, the GOP nominee would be the “spoiler”.

Moderate Rs go Independent


The Independent Party has had plenty of good press the last 6 months. And as the August 16th, deadline for finalizing major party status nears, there’s been a bit of excitement.

In May and June the IPO had lost membership due to the post off year primary election purge of inactive voters, and at one point was within 72 members of losing major party status. Then the Democratic and Republican Party leadership teamed up to attack the IPO. But most recently a check with the Secretary of State revealed that the IPO is several hundred voters over the major party threshold and should qualify to be on the May 2016 primary ballot as a major party.

And, this week, the IPO had two members join that some readers may recognize.

On Tuesday August 4th, the Bend Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel on the IPO, featuring IPO Secretary Sal Peralta, IPO Counsel Robert Harris, Rep. Knute Buehler and Sen. Betsy Johnson. During the presentation Bend City Councilperson and former Republican State Senator Chris Telfer casually mentioned from the audience during the Q and A session that she was now an IPO member. In 2012 Telfer was beaten in a contested primary by social conservative Republican Tim Knopp. One of the many recent moderate Republican casualties to the GOP’s rightward drift.

Also this week, 2008 GOP nominee for Secretary of State Rick Dancer (He faced Kate Brown in that election), announced on his blog that he had joined the IPO. Dancer’s 2008 platform was relatively moderate and included making the Secretary of State position non partisan and open primaries. Making him an early proponent of election reform and Democracy protection.

Voters say they want a third party, but are very wary of third parties since historically most have been more radical than the Democrats or Republicans. So credibility for any party claiming to be that mythical “Third Party” is crucial. There are two reasons to believe the IPO may be that mythical Third Party. First more independents, Democrats and Republicans are joining the IPO, so it stands to reason that the party will become relatively centrist as more people join. There just aren’t 110,000 radical voters in Oregon. All other minor parties combined together only number less than 43,000. Those are the more radical thinkers. Meanwhile the GOP and Democratic Party continue to drift right and left respectively. So most voters who join the IPO are clearly not far left or far right, nor feel well represented by the GOP and Democratic Party. Who does that leave? Moderate centrists. And now more well known community leaders are joining the IPO which imparts a stamp of approval to voters. So voters are coming around to the realization that this time, just maybe, there really is a realistic third party choice for Oregon voters and independents.

The IPO as a nascent party that will need care and attention from it’s members. But it is showing great signs of promise.



I was putting together one article, and stumbled on this topic instead. And I think it describes beautifully what the Independent Party is attempting to bring to the political table.

The term “Transpartisanship” has emerged to provide a meaningful alternative to “Bipartisanship,” and “Nonpartisanship.” Bipartisanship limits the dialogue process to two political viewpoints or entities, striving for compromise solutions. Nonpartisanship, on the other hand, tends to deny the existence of differing viewpoints in exchange for cooperation. Both the bipartisan and nonpartisan approaches can discount the multiplicity of viewpoints that exist, which often results in incomplete and therefore unsuccessful outcomes. In contrast to these, transpartisanship recognizes the existence and validity of many points of view, and advocates a constructive dialogue aimed at arriving at creative, integrated, and therefore, breakthrough solutions that meet the needs of all present.

The IPO doesn’t reject ideology or attempt to ignore the fact that ideology will always exist. In fact ideology is the root of many good and novel ideas and solutions. However, an idealogue – whether conservative or liberal – accepts that political critique must take place on the enlightened grounds of the search for human happiness needs based on the use of reason.

On the other hand, a politically orthodox person may reject compromise and even debate and discussion because they believe there is a transcendent order based on some higher moral authority, and to compromise that order – despite the well reasoned arguments of others – is not possible because reason can’t trump their belief and faith. There can be little compromise with a politically orthodox person.

Bi partisanship relagates the search for better government to a binary argument, where unique solutions are set aside as the two sides coalesce around the most common position. (or the position of the largest and most powerful within the coalition.) Regardless, it results in only two viable solutions.

Non partisanship must fail because it refuses to acknowledge that there are consequential ideological differences within our political system, and without honoring, acknowledging and making provisions for those differences, honorable compromise is unlikely.

The Independent Party, knowingly or not, seems to be a transpartisan political movement. Member surveys have identified four areas that have widespread support among it’s membership. Membership that includes voters from the liberal to conservative ends of the traditional spectrum.

Government has a vital role to play in the marketplace in protecting the little guy from the big guys (consumer protection)
Government has a vital role to play in economic development, but any government benefit to a business must return as much to the taxpayer as it costs. (Taxpayer Return on Investment)
We must reduce the power of money in politics. Campaign finance reform
We should increase job training and education to meet the changing needs of our economy.

By refusing to adopt positions on hot button issues, the IPO has rejected orthodoxy from the political right and left. The IPO doesn’t deny those are important issues to some of the politically orthodox. It just accepts the ideological divide on some issues and that enlightened reason won’t solve a disagreement based on political orthodoxy. But the IPO acting as transpartisan still understands our need to work together on solutions that we do agree on. The IPO doesn’t limit itself to exploring the Republican or Democratic solutions, goals, or ideology only. Campaign finance reform is more of a Progressive Party issue than a Democratic priority. And Taxpayer return on investment is closer to Libertarian model of refraining from interfering in the market through government action, than it is to the Republican platform of granting tax breaks to any big business that asks.

The IPO is an emerging major party. There should be no expectation that because it hit major party status in February 2015 that it also has the same funding, infrastructure and candidate pool that the other major parties have. Developing membership, local member infrastructure, candidate recruitment, and a political bench will take some time. So chillax for a bit and let things develop.

But, if the IPO is transpartisan, you should eventually expect to see non orthodox IPO candidates that span the ideological spectrum *. Candidates pledged to working together for the common good using enlightened reasoning. You should expect to see right of center IPO candidates in the red districts, and left leaning candidates in the blue districts. In fact, you could see a far left candidate as an IPO candidate in a deep blue district if the Democratic candidate there was seen as a TPP backing, CRC spending, Tax Break giving traditional Democrat.

Money hardball ahead

harrislogo1 is a startup online news site. Every Friday they publish a who’s hot and who’s not column by Douglas Fasching.

In todays column Senator Richard Devlin is skewered as a “not hot” because Devlin has signaled his intent to run for Secretary of State and:

“The speculation is that he is not giving up his Senate seat while he runs for higher office. He intends to hold onto his leadership role whilst campaigning. While it is not required to give up one’s seat, it is still poor form. Lastly, the rumor has him intending to dip into his campaign war chest to finance his campaign. A war chest that now stands at about 272k. Money he raked in by being the 3rd most powerful person in the Senate chairing the most powerful committee in the legislature. Money that should be going to help get other Dem Senators elected not financing your own aspirations. Using your position and a shit-ton of money to deter others from jumping in a race really isn’t fair. Nobody likes a bully”


Who could have “speculated”? Who could whispered to Mr. Fasching the “rumor” that Devlin’s dipping into his campaign war chest to conduct his campaign? Who would have the motive to do that?

The Devlin spot ends with “Cheer up, Val, at least you don’t have a recall to deal with.” So apparently Someone named Val who was recently facing a recall was on Mr. Faschings mind when he wrote the article. For some reason.

This story could have been suggested to Mr. Fasching by someone partly as a response the Oregonian article about Hoyle’s announcement. That article tells the story of Hoyle starting well behind potential rivals for the SoS office Devlin and current Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian in the money race (Hoyle has only $30,000 on hand versus Devlin’s $272,000 and Avakian’s $133,000)

If there’s one thing you need to have in Oregon’s no holes barred campaign finance and spending anarchy, its a boatload of money. And money attracts money. Anyone starting with a real and significant deficit of money may quickly fall behind in a race. No one wants to be on the losing team. And while one way to compete is to raise money, the other way is to see if you can keep your opponent from raising – or using – money, by for instance shaming them into limiting the use of their campaign treasury.

So, while we don’t know who planted the seed for the GoLocalPDX story, we can draw reasonable inferences.

With the real meaningful political races in Oregon now being waged in the Primaries, we can expect some real hardball between Democrats. And some players are more willing to slide hard into second with their spikes up.

IPO on the edge


The May, 2015 voter registration statistics were posted by the Secretary of State, and because of the IPOnormal May off year election inactive voter purges, the IPO numbers shrank. The IPO is now only 72 members above the Major Party status mark. Another month like May and the IPO will lose the right to be on the May 2016 primary ballot. Remember, the IPO opened it’s primary to non affiliated voters, so that means that if the IPO loses 72 members between now and August 15th, 2015, over 640,000 oregon voters, or about 30% lose the right to vote in the May primary.

Are The Democrats and Governor Brown, who passed the Motor voter law to get more voters registered concerned? Yes the are. They are concerned that the IPO will maintain major party status and are doing everything they can – even making league with their Republican Party opponents – to kill the IPO. And in effect, take a vote away from 640,000 Oregonians.

First the Oregon House Rules committee, chaired by a State legislator who thinks she should in charge of all Oregon elections, ambushed IPO leaders when she called a hearing – with less than 48 hours notice to the IPO – to examine major party organizations and how they engage their members. You can bet the Democratic and Republican party leaders were given plenty of notice of the hearing and subject matter.

That hearing was followed within 24 hours by a joint Democratic and Republican press release that claimed to prove that the IPO was a fake party. A March 2015 (!) poll paid for by the Democrats showed that over half of IPO members know they are IPO members. This actually disproves what Democratic operatives have been claiming for YEARS; that almost all IPO members mistakenly joined the IPO when they thought they were registering as not affiliated with any party. The Poll actually shows that only 24% of IPO members thought they were registering a non affiliated. No wonder the Democrats didn’t release this poll in March. The timing of the poll also shows it was commissioned shortly after the IPO reached major party status. No coincidence that.

The Democrats in particular are very concerned that the IPO could shake things up. Because right now things are working very well for them, and change brings uncertainties and unkowns. But IPO leaders and Democratic operatives have been aware of the dynamic the IPO could bring to Oregon elections for some time and how it could threaten the Democratic party’s special interests grip on power. Particularly the Public employee unions grip. And It’s why for the past few years as the IPO has grown, it’s the DPO that has become it’s main adversary.

Todays (July 3rd, 2015) Oregonian Editorial Board praised the IPO and encouraging non affiliated voters, and disenchanted voters of all parties to join the IPO in order to preserve the IPO’s major party status. It recognized that given the current state of the law, and with Democrats in control of the legislature, the IPO offers the only way independent voters can participate in the May primary. And make no mistake, in Oregon’s highly gerrymandered state, in 90% of al legislative races, and all of the statewide races, and all of the federal races, t’s the primary elections that decide who will be elected in November.

In fact, the OEBs argument on the importance of the IPO maintaining major party status was so compelling that several people who commented after reading the opinion volunteered that they had just registered with the IPO. And not one to ignore his own advice, the presumed author of the opinion, OEB Editor Erik Lukens, also posted that he had registered with the IPO to help preserve its major party status.

Rolled on reform


HB 3500 – is the symbol of the fight independent voters have been waging for respect. We’ve written about its real and symbolic importance to election reform before. The most current plot twist involves Sen. Betsy Johnson and Sen. Richard Devlin.

HB 3500 had it’s genesis pre session when Rep. Val Hoyle drafted the original version which was erroneously labelled “Hoyle’s open primary bill.” Though what it really did was allow “same day” primary election mail in voter registration bill for the Democratic and Republican Parties. It would have required that every major party primary Ballot be sent to all non affiliated primary voters, along with a party registration card. So if an NAV wanted to vote in May’s partisan primary election, they were forced to vote for and join either the Democratic or Republican Parties. It should have been called “Val Hoyles Democratic and Republican Voter Registration Drive” bill.

But Oops! Developments throw a monkey wrench into the plan.

In February the Independent Party achieved major party status. So sending all major party ballots no longer seemed like a good idea to Democrats and Republicans. Democratic insiders gutted HB 3500 and stuffed it with a provision to create a task force of 17 members who would study how to increase NAV voter participation in elections. So far so good. But That task force amendment never had a public hearing, no public testimony was given. No written testimony was allowed. It was rushed through the House Rules by Rep. Hoyle, then mysteriously rather than going to the Senate Rules where it normally would have gone and where Sen. Diane Rosenbaum could have fixed the bill by amendment, it went to the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on General Government.

That’s where the fireworks occurred this week.

But some on the Joint Committee were unhappy that of the 17 task force members, 12 would be appointed by Democrats and only 4 by Republicans. (The 17th, being the Secretary of State). But it was Betsy Johnson who pointed out it’s other big flaw. Even though there are slots on the task force for Republican and Democratic electeds (4) and for “representatives of major parties to be appointed by Democratic and Republican leaders (4 more), and for minor parties an non affiliate voters, and the League of Women Voters, and “an organization that does voter registration drives” (Bus project anyone), and even for a “Oregon Elector” (Mark Frohnmayer?) there is no slot for the third major party, the Independent Party of Oregon which has been at the forefront of election reforms and has over 100,000 members. The Libertarian (16,000 members) or Working Families Parties (9,000 members) and even the Progressive Green Party (about 2,500 members) – may be represented, but a major party making up 110,000 Oregonians is not included.

When Sen. Johnson raised some questions about why the bill didn’t include an IPO representative, The Chair of the Committee took a break and indicated they’d ask Val Hoyle or one of her staff to come down and explain the bill more and answer questions. But when the committee reconvened, there was no one from Hoyle’s office in the committee room.

Someone else had appeared though, and if you watch the video of the committee hearing below, you can see him sitting at a committee chair, staring at Sen. Johnson, then ambling over to take her seat. That’s Sen. Richard Devlin, using his prerogative as the Senate Leader to remove Betsy Johnson from the committee and taking her vote himself.

There would be no discussion, or explanation in public of why the IPO was not included on this commitee. Just like there would be no public hearings, or allowing any public testimony on the gut and stuff in House Rules. And when someone even asked to have an explanation of the bill from Hoyle, the order was out to Devline office. Go down to the hearing and roll her over.

But before she leaves, Sen. Johnson makes a powerful statement, indicting the drafters and backers of this bill as being anti democratic and unfair and she promised to vote against the bill when it reaches the floor. Sen. Johnson then storms out of the committee room and Sen. Devlin fills her seat.

The final vote was to pass the bill to the Senate floor by a vote of 5-2.

Voting against HB 3500 along with Sen. Johnson were; Democratic Representative Betty Komp and Republican Senator Doug Whitsett. Independent voters thank you and respect your fairness.

Voting for the bill that disenfranchises 110, 000 Oregon voters from having a representative on the election reform task force were:

Democratic Sen. Richard Devlin
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward
Democratic Rep. Nancy Nathanson
Democratic Representative Kathleen Taylor
Republican Rep. Greg Smith

Here’s another odd thing. They didn’t have to roll Sen. Johnson, the vote was 5-2 to move the bill. If Sen. Johnson had been allowed to vote, it still would have moved by 4-3.

So, why is it so important for the Democratic leadership to make sure the IPO not only isn’t represented on this task force, but that no public hearings are held. No written testimony is allowed, no discussion be allowed, and that if anyone wants to debate it and open it to public scrutiny, that they take swift, decisive and overwhelming tactics to quash it?

There is one possibility. An informed source stated that some high ranking public employee union political operatives have been heard to say that the growth of the IPO represents one of their biggest challenges. If so, then the obvious response from Democratic political operatives would be to crush any toehold the IPO had. Even if it meant disrespecting a senior member of your own caucus.

To watch Sen. Devline Roll Over Sen. Johnson, and listen to her statement, go to the link below. The events are near the end of the video. Hover over the last dot on the timeline and HB 3500 will appear. That’s the start of the sequence. Get some popcorn.

Union of last resort?


This year’s legislature has been good to lower paid workers.

Sick leave? check.

Enhanced retirement options for workers who don’t have retirement plan through work? Almost check.

And now Democratic House leaders are introducing a bill that will increase the minimum wage incrementally to $13.00 hour by 2018. (inevitable check)

And lets not forget the Affordable Care Act, assuring that low income workers are able to afford health insurance.

With this increases in minimum wage, paid sick leave, more retirement options, and health insurance guaranteed, the State of Oregon, along with the feds who are supplying the subsidies for health insurance, have “negotiated” some pretty solid contracts with America’s workers.

The 2014 union rate for the US was 11.1%. In Oregon it was quite a bit better at 15.6%. But still…..15.6% is pretty low historically.

Is there correlation between the shift of income from the middle to the top a and the shift of power between capital and labor because of the reduction in the power of private labor unions? And if so, will the enhanced employment requirements passed by the State Legislature help boost the middle class workers situation? Or will the enhanced benefits required by law now remove the reason for lower income workplaces unionize in the first place?

It’s an interesting development, Oregon State is legislating compensation packages for lower paid workers that are substantially better than the typical compensation packages available in other States. It’s acting like a union of last resort. The consequences could be positive – historically higher unionization meant more for the middle class. And it’s certainly better for the lower paid worker. More income to spend in the community. Better protections for workers. Healthier workforce. More incentive to work and save for retirement.

Or could it backfire? Perhaps, besides the obvious danger of a loss of jobs as employers find ways to trim operating expenses, it could also mean that the lower paid less skilled workforce, the one that could arguably benefit most from a strong private union, no longer has a reason to unionize. Of course, unions had been struggling to unionize low wage workers for some time.

Now, if we can just elect some responsible “union” leaders in 2016.