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WSLC decries Senate GOP legislative attacks

senate-alecOLYMPIA (Feb. 5, 2014) — Whatever pretense of moderation the Republican-controlled “Majority Coalition Caucus” offered when it seized control of the State Senate last year has been tossed out the window in 2014. Senate Republicans have unleashed a flurry of proposed legislation in this year’s short legislative session that seeks to lower workers’ wages, weaken unions, and shred the safety net for injured workers, according to the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO

In a letter to be distributed today to state legislators, WSLC President Jeff Johnson said:

Senator Rodney Tom and his Republican Majority have opened the flood gates for bills that weaken the support system when workers get injured on the job; limit employees’ ability to form organizations or unions — making their voice on workplace issues weaker; and restrict workers from fighting to get better wages. These initiatives all come at the expense of good social, transportation, and revenue policy.

Many of these bills are straight out of the playbooks written by ALEC and the Freedom Foundation. Do not be fooled — there is no grassroots movement to complicate the prevailing wage calculation, or to force unions to spend more time reporting their finances to the government than they spend serving their membership.

The letter lists the following Republican-sponsored bills and urged legislators to oppose them all:


SB 5124 (sponsored by Sen. Holmquist-Newbry) — Workers’ Comp Benefits — Cuts and caps benefits for injured workers.

SB 5125 (Holmquist-Newbry) — Occupational Disease Claims — Makes it easier for employers to avoid occupational disease claims by blaming non-work exposures, despite medical evidence to the contrary.

SB 5126 (Holmquist-Newbry) — Industrial Insurance/ Recovery — Circumvents a Supreme Court case that allows the state to recover legal economic and non-economic damages during a 3rd party suit.

SB 5127 (Holmquist-Newbry) — Structured Settlements — Exposes workers of all ages to compromises that settle their claims for pennies on the dollars they are owed.

SB 6179 (Braun) — Workers’ Comp Self-Insurance — Increases the risk of insolvency and threatens small businesses during periods of default. We should learn from New York and California’s experience.


SB 5246 (Litzow) — Teacher/Principal Evaluations — Removes flexibility for local districts to establish their own performance metrics and staffing policies that work for their local communities.

SB 5851 (Bailey) — Defined Contribution Plan — This would undermine public employees’ pensions and their retirement security. Our pensions are stable and among the best-funded in the nation.

SB 6102 (King) — Connecting Washington Acct — Threatens the public safety net during a period of zero-sum budgeting. Sets a terrible precedent.

SB 6182 (Braun) — Apprenticeship Program — Supports new, untested apprenticeship programs over those that are well-established. There’s no reason for the different treatment.

SB 6186 (King) — Public Works Contracting — Erodes training opportunities for new workers in an aging work force. Effectively increases the labor cost of public works projects. Spun off from the Republican Senate Transportation package.

SB 6220 (Braun) — Liquor Retail License Fees — Reneges on the deal made by voters on liquor privatization that revenues would not change. Bad for safety, bad for revenue.

SB 6307 (Braun) — Local Employment Law — Preempts local governments and communities from establishing fair wage and benefits standards.

SB 6317 (Angel) — Prevailing Rate of Wage — Alters streamlined prevailing wage calculation methods in favor of a complex and punitive process.

SB 6392 (Baumgartner) — Unemployment Benefits — Requiring community service in exchange for unemployment benefits violates federal law.

SB 6471 (Baumgartner) — Teen Summer Employment Wage — College is more expensive than ever — teens should get paid the same wage for doing the same work as adults, because they have adult-sized expenses.

SB 6495 (Holmquist-Newbry) — Temporary Teen Training Wage — Youth unemployment is a function of the recession, not the minimum wage. 16-17 year olds working to save for higher education need a fair wage, and 18-19 year olds — voting adults — should not be discriminated against due to their youth.


SB 5844 (Sheldon) — Faculty Collective Bargaining — Tries to break faculty organizing by pitting adjunct against full-time instructors. Creates false distinction between full-time and adjunct faculty who are both covered under the same collective bargaining agreement.

SB 6053 (Honeyford) — Union Representation Fees — Attacks the collection of Union dues under the guise of religious objection – and objection which is already accommodated.

SB 6063 (Litzow) — Opportunity Gap, Closing — Blames teachers and administrators for systemic problems while fundamentally not addressing the Opportunity gap.

SB 6183 (Braun) — Public Collective Bargaining — Opening collective bargaining sessions to the public will emphasize grand-standing over fair bargaining. Other, similar, meetings — like budget and transportation negotiations — are held to this standard.

SB 6244 (Hewitt) — Collective Bargaining — Unnecessarily blows open the window to file representation petitions. Will force employee organizations to spend more time fighting off attacks by a vocal minority than providing service to members.

SB 6300 (Becker) — Public Sector Union Finances — Forces unions to post detailed financial information online. Goes far beyond current state and federal reporting requirements.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!