Top 10 Quotes from WA Union Bosses and Politicians

Top 10 Quotes from WA Union Bosses and Politicians

Top 10 Quotes from WA Union Bosses and Politicians

The 2014 legislative session proved that union bosses will say almost anything to protect their own power.

Below are the top 10 quotes from union lobbyists and labor-backed legislators in hearings on labor reform bills based on Freedom Foundation ideas.

10. “If there’s any responsibility on a local union to facilitate the electronic transfer of these documents that could be onerous.” 

Joe Kendo, lobbyist for the Washington State Labor Council.

In testimony on SB6250, Kendo attempted to convince the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee of the difficulty unions would face if required to send a single email once every few years to the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) with a copy of their current collective bargaining agreement.

9. “We believe in transparency, we believe our members should have access to the collective bargaining agreements, we have no problem with the public viewing our collective bargaining agreements, we have no problems with the bigger picture of having a large database showing our collective bargaining agreements, the issue is around where the burden lies.”

Adrienne Thompson, lobbyist for Professional and Technical Employees Local 17.

Testifying against SB6250, Thompson and the other union lobbyists argued in the Senate that they supported the concept of the bill, but wanted public employers to submit the CBAs instead of the unions. After amending the bill to do exactly that, the Senate passed SB6250 in a strong, bi-partisan vote. But when it got to the House, labor reversed course and argued…

8. “The problem with the bill is that is just creates extra cost, extra hassle for PERC and for an untold number of local jurisdictions.”

Dennis Eagle, lobbyist for the Washington Federation of State Employees.

After arguing in the Senate that public agencies should submit the CBAs, government unions argued against SB6250 in the House on the grounds that it would burden public agencies. After Labor’s testimony, Rep. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) cancelled the committee’s vote on SB6250, effectively killing the bill.

7. “There’s kind of perverse sense of irony that we’d be hearing a bill that would blow up the exemption for religious objections on the day in which we honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, who was clearly one of our most important religious and civil rights leaders and who worked closely with labor to fight against inequities and injustice.”

Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council.

Johnson’s comments were made in testimony against SB6053, which would have enshrined in state law court-ordered protections for persons who object to union membership on religious grounds.

6. “Contract negotiations, much of it takes place in the respective caucuses between management and labor, and it’s a bit of Kabuki Theater. It’s very stylized, it’s very slow, it’s very boring, and it’s very time-consuming. It’s not going to be terribly edifying.”

Steve Segall of the Washington Federation of State Employees Local 443.

Segall made his remarks in testimony against SB6183, which would make contract negotiations between public agencies and labor unions open to the public. Apparently, Segall believes the public must be protected from boredom by being legally barred from witnessing how their tax dollars are spent.

5. “It doesn’t seem that there’s anything broke to be fixed.”

Pat Thompson, lobbyist for the Washington State Council of County and City Employees.

Thompson’s comments came in testimony against SB6244, which would give public employees a 90-day window each contract cycle, instead of a 30-day window, in which to apply to change or get rid of their union. Oregon does not place any restrictions at all on when employees can file. Of course, to a union boss, there is nothing wrong with an arbitrary system that restricts workers’ ability to control who represents them.  

 4. “Well, I’m sorry but filing windows are there for a reason.”

Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle).

In comments made in executive session, Hasegawa dismissed the testimony of a union worker representing a 107-person bargaining unit that missed the arbitrary, 30-day filing window by one day. They had to wait two more years before getting another shot at decertifying their union.

3. “There hasn’t been a lot of employers or very few, maybe one or two employees who keep coming before this committee with concerns. We had one foundation here, the Freedom Foundation who’s introducing all these bills and I just think that we need to be, we need to have bills before us that are a concern to the public, and I don’t get the feeling that these bills are at all of concern to the public, and I ask you not to move the bill forward.” 

Sen. Steve Conway (D-Tacoma).

Conway’s made his remarks in executive session on SB6300. Conway must have forgotten that six union-represented workers testified before his committee in favor of this particular bill. Only union lobbyists testified against it.   

2. “Public sector and all unions are really some of the most democratic organizations there are in this country.” 

Geoff Simpson, lobbyist for the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters.

Coming in testimony against SB6300, Simpson’s comments stood in sharp contrast to the way actual union members described their unions: “opaque;” “no transparency;” and “’Democratic’ is not the word at all I would use for how they function.”

1. “Membership in a labor union is voluntary… you’re not forced to pay.”

Greg Devereux, President of the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE).

Devereux made his remarks in testimony against SB6053, which would have prevented government unions from overcharging non-members for workplace representation. Devereux used his testimony to engage in hair-splitting and obfuscation, hoping the Senators would not be able to keep up. While official membership in a union is technically voluntary, there is no way for workers to avoid being represented by a union and paying the associated fees. State law even proscribes that union non-members will pay an amount equal to full membership dues. Thankfully, the Senators saw through Devereux’s word games. While acknowledging Devereux’s claim that union membership is “voluntary,” Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia) correctly noted that “representation fees are compelled.”

Director of Research and Government Affairs
As the Freedom Foundation’s Director of Research and Government Affairs, Maxford Nelsen leads the team working to advance the Freedom Foundation’s mission through strategic research, public policy advocacy, and labor relations. Max regularly testifies on labor issues before legislative bodies and his research has formed the basis of several briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Max’s work has been published in local newspapers around the country and in national outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, National Review, and the American Spectator. His work on labor policy issues has been featured in media outlets like the New York Times, Fox News, and PBS News Hour. He is a frequent guest on local radio stations like 770 KTTH and 570 KVI. From 2019-21, Max was a presidential appointee to the Federal Service Impasses Panel within the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which resolves contract negotiation disputes between federal agencies and labor unions. Prior to joining the Freedom Foundation in 2013, Max worked for and the Washington Policy Center and interned with the Heritage Foundation. Max holds a labor relations certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated magna cum laude from Whitworth University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. A Washington native, he lives in Olympia with his wife and sons.