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Associated Press
Published: 23 May 2023

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — One of Oregon’s largest labor unions says it’s going to try to oust a Democratic state lawmaker who has been a longtime labor ally.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 said Monday it had filed paperwork to initiate a recall effort against Rep. Paul Holvey of Eugene, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

If successful, it could trigger an election later this year deciding whether Holvey, the House speaker pro-tem, can stay in office.

Holvey, joined the House in 2004 and is a former union representative. But the union says his failure to support House Bill 3183, which would block cannabis employers from interfering with employee efforts to unionize, is one of the reasons behind its effort. The union is trying to make the case that the representative has turned his back on working people.

“He has shown that his allegiance lies with large corporations, not with Oregonians,”

Local 555 President Dan Clay said in a statement.

Holvey told OPB that the recall caught him off-guard.

“I’m very surprised they’d pursue this sort of retaliation over this particular bill,” he said. “I am a strong labor person, I grew up in labor and have always pursued legislation to help working people.”

Is the UCFW bill legal?

The union says Holvey killed the cannabis union bill, and strongly suggests in its planned filing with the Secretary of State that he did so at the behest of La Mota. That’s the cannabis dispensary chain whose owners have come under scrutiny for donating to Democrats while failing to pay their taxes. The business' owners have not given money to Holvey's personal campaign committee, but they did donate $20,000 to the main political action committee for electing House Democrats.

UFCW Local 555 also says Holvey secured a legal opinion from legislative attorneys that suggests the bill could be illegal. The union believes that opinion is misleading and could affect its efforts to help workers unionize.

Holvey said he had questions about whether the UCFW bill was legal and acted accordingly, obtaining two opinions from legislative attorneys suggesting HB 3183 could be precluded by federal law.

“All I could see was this would put us into potential litigation where I felt pretty strongly the state would lose,” he said.

In order to force an election later this year, the union must collect signatures equivalent to 15% of the voters in Holvey’s Lane County district that participated in last year’s race for governor. According to state elections officials, the union needs 4,598 signatures by Aug. 21.

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