Another Major Defeat for Anti-Union Groups in Oregon

Last week, right-wing anti-union groups suffered another resounding defeat in Oregon as State Senator Shemia Fagan, backed by most of the state’s public sector workers, won the Democratic endorsement for Oregon Secretary of State in a remarkable grassroots victory. In this election, Oregon’s public workers proved again that by joining together in a union, working families can have an overwhelming voice in politics.

Fagan declaring victory was not a simple process, however. The Oregonian, one of the leading newspapers in Oregon, which has a reputation for bias against public-sector unions, called the race prematurely on election night for one of Fagan’s opponents, State Senator Mark Hass, even with tens of thousands of votes left to be counted. The newspaper’s declaration appeared to revel in a defeat for public sector workers, with headlines like the one below. It still has not been removed, even after Fagan was announced the victor a few days later.


But it was a more embarrassing election for anti-union groups like the so-called “Freedom” Foundation. They launched their anti-union campaign more than six years ago, wasting more than $20 million trying to take away the political voice of public sector workers. Their goal: turn Oregon into a “red” state. But their defeats keep piling up. Fagan’s victory is a clear demonstration that they have accomplished nothing in Oregon.

Even as the “Freedom” Foundation continues to pave their path to irrelevance,  Senator Fagan’s victory was remarkable for other reasons. She joined the race six months after her opponents and rode to victory on a groundswell of support from public sector workers. Her campaign epitomized grassroots democracy in action.

Many right-wingers in Oregon don’t like working people having a voice in politics, because they know that when workers are united they are stronger than big corporate interests and their billionaire-benefiting, anti-union agendas. For a little while on election night, allies of the uber-rich like the “Freedom” Foundation thought they had a victory, but are now forced to lick their wounds yet again.

How demoralizing it must be to blow $20 million+ and remain empty-handed, year after year.