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Oregon State Senator Accused Of Stifling Union Criticism

Bryan Buckalew


SALEM, Ore. - Oregon Senate budget chair Richard Devlin is under fire. He's being accused of muffling criticism of an SEIU plan to add 7,000 workers to its union roster.

Senator Devlin says he only meant to support workers' right to collectively bargain. Last December, the senator says he received a letter from the SEIU accusing home health care employers of threatening worker's plan to unionize.

At the SEIU's urging, Senator Devlin sent 13 health care brokerages a letter warning them not to criticize unionization efforts.

Barb Charette is executive director of one of the brokerages that received Devlin's warning. She says the letter was a surprise because she had no idea what they'd done wrong.

"It was like a scolding, Charette said. "Then, as I continued to read down the letter, and he made the statement that he sits on the DHS budget committee, then that became a little frightening."

That's because health care brokerages receive funding from the DHS budget. Currently, lawmakers are negotiating a bill that restructures Oregon healthcare and defines how these workers can organize.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network