Right to work for less

Pushing ‘right-to-work,’ other attacks

ALEC-inspired bills to undermine public employee unions and promote their decertification are being heard Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee chaired by Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane):

Sen. Randi Becker (R-Eatonville)

SB 5226, sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker (R-Eatonville), would create new administrative reporting burdens for all public employee unions and require them to file multiple reports to the state, including financial reports listing all of the unions’ expenditures, and to have that information posted publicly online. Unions would have to disclose everything from the union’s procedure for “authorization of collective bargaining demands” to “receipts of any kind and sources thereof.”

Ostensibly intended to promote transparency for rank-and-file members, the source of the proposal is not actual union members, it is the companies financing ALEC. SB 5226’s sponsor, who serves on ALEC’s education task force, lifted most of the language word-for-word from ALEC model legislation called the “Union Financial Responsibility Act.”

Greg Devereux, Executive Director of the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28, testified last year in opposition to this Becker bill, calling it “unnecessary, duplicative, burdensome and punitive.” He noted that his union is already subject to federally required reporting and that information is already posted on U.S. Department of Labor website.

Sen. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard)

SB 5045 is sponsored by Sen. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard),  who until recently served as State Chair of ALEC. Her bill would empower a minority of workers in a public employee bargaining unit to force an election specifically to revoke their contract’s union-security clause, which requires all employees who benefit from a union contract to pay at least a representation fee.
SB 5045 aims to promote the “right-to-work” idea of getting union representation for free. States that have enacted such free-rider laws have dramatically fewer union members and workers there receive significantly lower wages and fewer benefits.

“This type of government interference in the collective bargaining process between employers and workers is unwelcome, undemocratic, and obviously intended to weaken unions,” said WSLC Legislative and Policy Director Joe Kendo. “Specific contract clauses are negotiated at the bargaining table and when an agreement is reached, union members vote on it. Granting a minority of workers the ability to parse a negotiated contract and force votes on specific provisions goes against more than a century of established collective bargaining principles.”