Union bosses like Geoff Simpson frequently claim that “Public sector and all unions are really some of the most democratic organizations there are in this country.”
In reality, the manner in which public sector unions function is often anything but democratic.
A study of states with similar collective bargaining laws to Washington found that most public sector unions were certified so long ago that few if any employees currently represented have ever had the chance to participate in a vote to determine their representation.
Furthermore, union members who no longer wish to be represented by their union or who want to be represented by a different union must attempt to complete a difficult decertification process which is heavily tilted in favor of the union.
The Freedom Foundation obtained the records for all petitions filed to change or eliminate a public sector union since 2010 via a public records request to the Public Employment Relations Commission.
Documents obtained indicate:
- There have been 89 petitions to decertify or change public sector unions since 2010.
- Of these, nine were dismissed on procedural grounds like failing to submit a petition in the proper time window.
- Of the 25 decertification petitions that ended up in a vote, workers rejected the union 15 times (60 percent).
- Of the 36 petitions to change unions that ended up in a vote, workers voted to change their union 33 times (92 percent).
- On average, bargaining units filing for decertification contained 51 employees.
- Bargaining units seeking to change unions contained 34 employees, on average.
- The Public Employment Relations Commission estimates that there are upwards of 2,000 public sector bargaining units in Washington State.
Attempted Decertifications of Washington Public Unions: 2010-2013
Petitions to Change Unions in Washington’s Public Sector: 2010-2013