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Oregon Sewer Workers Are Busting Their Own Union For ‘Extortion’

A Portland, Ore, union worker has teamed up with an organization dedicated to union-busting to fight the union that he claims is extorting him.

Dennis Duffey reached out to the Freedom Foundation for help circulating a petition for deauthorization, removing mandatory dues from union contracts, so he and others could freely join other unions or negotiate their own salary.

“If I’m not getting represented, then I have a problem with paying dues,” Duffey told Oregon’s Willemette Week. “I call it extortion.”

Duffey’s actions are a severe threat to his union, Laborers Local 483. The union exists on member dues, and Duffey’s attempt to upset that order and risk the union is “economic violence,” Local 483 former interim president Wesley Buchholz told the Willemette Week.

After being contacted by Duffey, the Freedom Foundation submitted a records request Aug. 29 to the City of Portland for the names of all city employees represented by Local 483. The City of Portland told the foundation that it would begin compiling the requested names as soon as a down payment for the information was made, according to emails obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The city informed the union about the records request, and Local 483 tried to block it, according to the Willemette Week.

“Citizens should be outraged at the City’s conduct,” Freedom Foundation Policy Analyst Ben Straka said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It’s one thing for a special interest group like Local 483 to break the law, but the City’s recent decision to aid union leaders by illegally withholding records is a blatant attempt to derail Mr. Duffey’s rights, and shows just how corrupt the relationship is between government officials and the unions they serve.”

The Freedom Foundation will appeal the city’s decision to withhold the documents.

After the union was informed of Duffey’s intent to rework union contracts, Local 483 mass emailed its members and created postcards for them to send opposing Duffey’s campaign, Straka told TheDCNF.

Duffey began receiving postcards, some with messages calling him a “douche” and a “piece of s**t,” according to the Willemette Week.

“Since when is it okay to suppress employees’ voting rights? That’s exactly what Local 483 is trying to do by instructing their members to send intimidating, hate-filled postcards to Mr. Duffey’s home,” Freedom Foundation Oregon Assistant Director Aaron Withe told TheDCNF in a statement. “It’s despicable, and we believe it’s illegal.”

The Freedom Foundation is considering taking legal action against the union for the postcards sent to Duffey’s residence.

Dennis Duffey could not be reached for comment, and a Local 483 representative was not available for comment.

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