Referring Ballot Measure To Voters Is Not Unfair Labor Practice

Since 2004, the City of Eugene, Oregon has had a civilian police auditor generally involved in the internal affairs process. The implementing ordinance provided that the City Council “may” authorize the auditor to have access to all internal affairs evidence and to participate in interviews. In 2008, the City Council referred to the voters a ballot measure that changed the word “may” to “shall.” The Eugene Police Employees Association responded by filing an unfair labor practice complaint, alleging that the City had an obligation to bargain over the expansion of the use of the auditor.

Oregon’s Employment Relations Board found the Association’s complaint “premature.” As the Board saw it, “the City did not implement the allegedly unlawful change in the police auditor’s role when it created the ballot measure. It merely proposed that the voters approve the allegedly unlawful change. The voters could have rejected the ballot measure and no alleged change would have occurred. We dismiss as unripe the Association’s allegation that the City unlawfully changed the status quo in violation of the law when it submitted a ballot measure to the voters.”

Eugene Police Employees Association, No. UP38/41-08 (Oregon ERB 2010).

This article appears in the December 2010 issue