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Eye On Boise

Federal judge overturns both of last session’s new anti-union laws

A federal judge has invalidated both the new anti-union laws pushed through by Idaho GOP lawmakers last session, saying they violate federal law. The two measures, SB 1007 and 1006, both expansions of Idaho's Right-to-Work law, sought to ban "job targeting programs" and "project labor agreements" and proposed steep penalties for violations; an injunction in July blocked SB 1007 from taking effect.

Both bills were sponsored by Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, who acknowledged that there was "a lot of talk about" legal issues with the bills, but said, "I thought that we were OK." Goedde said, "We had instances where the carpenters union from Portland was disrupting work, and I think that was the real emphasis behind the effort." He said the issue was brought to him by former state lawmaker Dean Haagenson of Coeur d'Alene, who is with the Inland Empire Associated Building Contractors. The Inland ABC, which filed an amicus brief in the case supporting the two bills, already has filed a notice of appeal to the 9th Circuit, saying it should have been allowed to intervene as a full party in the case.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill wrote in his 39-page decision that the various programs targeted by the bills weren't, as the Inland ABC argued, "a form of compulsory unionism." Wrote Winmill, "Nothing about a job targeting program ... makes union membership compulsory. Because Idaho is a right-to-work state, membership in any local in Idaho is entirely voluntary."

John Littel, regional political director for the Carpenters Union, said, "We were pretty surprised about how much momentum there was to really, I think, try to take a bite out of the unions, and specifically the carpenters." He added, "Regardless of what a legislator thinks or feels about a union's right to exist or not, these are protected activities." You can read my full story here at

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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