Oregon became the first state in the nation** to pass the national AFL-CIO's model "Worker Freedom Act," the gag rule bill known in Washington the last several sessions as the "Worker Privacy Act." It purports to rebalance federal labor law in unions' favor by restricting employers' ability to effectively communicate with employees about labor issues during organizing and bargaining campaigns. The Oregonian reports here, with statehouse coverage here.
The bill now heads to Governor Ted Kulongoski, who the Oregonian reports is expected to sign it. After the Washington version of this proposal died last session, Governor Gregoire was quoted as saying she would have vetoed it had it passed.
With good reason. If the measure is signed, expect a court fight. One of the reasons it took national unions so long to find a state willing to pass the bill is its extremely dubious legality. Especially in light of the U.S. Supreme Court broadly striking down a similar California measure aimed at employer speech about unions, these proposals have been viewed as attempting to take away rights that employers clearly enjoy under federal labor law -- something states are pre-empted from doing.
** The Oregonian imprecisely implies Oregon joins New Jersey in passing this bill. New Jersey passed a version in 2007 that did not include the provisions related to employer speech about unions. No other state has passed this full version of the model "Worker Freedom Act" bill.