The Washington State Legislature in Olympia is at it again. If you are a local elected official, you need to be paying attention.
Several public-sector labor bills have been introduced that will take power from local governments as well as cost them money.
- HB 2624 (also, SB 6229) – requires public employers to schedule opportunities for a private financial interest to make a sales pitch to all new employees. This is public-paid and during work hours. It is a heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all unfunded mandate from Olympia on behalf of unions.
- HB 2751 (also, SB 6296) – This bill requires public employers to assume the risk of taking money from people’s paycheck on the say-so of a union without receiving the signed consent of the employee. Making local public employers take money for a union without proper safeguards is risky and unfair.
- SB 6082 – Places public employers and state contractors in trouble if the union thinks what they say or allow to be said about unions is not in the best interest of unions. The bill creates an “unfair labor practice” permitting unions to bring an action against an employer when they are displeased. This is a significant financial liability and speech chiller.
“(1) It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer: . . .To not maintain neutrality in practices, policies, and activity with regard to employees seeking to exercise rights guaranteed by this [union-related] chapter. For the purposes of this subsection (5), examples of when an employer does not maintain neutrality are if it: (a) Unless otherwise required by this chapter, distributes literature, letters, emails, or postings to employees regarding the exercise of the rights guaranteed by this chapter.” SB 6082
These and other aggressive labor bills are being pushed this year out of fear.
This summer the Supreme Court is expected to rule that mandatory public-sector union fees are unconstitutional. Labor organizations with concerns about their revenue and are asking legislators they help put in office for some favoritism to protect their cash flow.
What local elected officials can do
Local elected officials should stand up for local control. By working through organizations like “Washington State Association of Counties,” “Washington Association of County Officials,” the “Washington State School Directors Association” and the “Association of Washington Cities” a coordinated effort to push back against legislative overreach could succeed.
Government leadership teams can be bold and preempt this bad legislation by notifying employees of their Constitutional rights immediately.
Local governments may also consider a policy resolution that directs Human Resources to fully inform new employees what their rights are regarding unions and employment.
Questions about an employee’s rights should never be deferred to a private third party who has a financial interest in the outcome.
Unions are notorious for misleading and pressuring workers to gain access to their paychecks, and they do so without accountability or recourse.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner set a great example that should be followed by informing employees about their rights.
In 2016 Governor Rauner sent out an email to all State employees about their rights regarding union membership. He also set up a website with detailed information to answer questions and walk people through the process.
If government leaders have any questions or would like advice or suggestions about how to move forward, please contact the Freedom Foundation.