Senate Republicans’ right-to-work bill draws fire

The following story appears in the Washington State Labor Council’s 2017 Legislative Report published in August.

In the end, more than 1,100 people signed in opposed to SB 5692. Just one person supported it.

More than 1,000 union members and supporters, most of them members of building and construction trades unions from around the state, swarmed the State Capitol on Feb. 8 to voice their objection to SB 5692, Republican legislation to make Washington a so-called “Right-to-Work” state.

SB 5692, sponsored by Sens. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) and John Braun (R-Centralia) was heard in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee chaired by Baumgartner. The hearing and overflow rooms set up to accommodate the crowds were all full, so hundreds more protested in different buildings and outside in the rain — with M.L. King County Labor Council leader Nicole Grant leading chants of “Hands Off Our Union!” — while many visited their legislators’ offices to object to anti-union Right-to-Work legislation.

The bill would deny unions and employers in Washington state the freedom to negotiate union-security clauses in contracts. Such a ban is intended to stop union members from paying for representation because they can get it, and the benefits of the contract, for free. The goal is to weaken unions and lower wages and that is exactly what happens in states that enact such laws.

“Right to Work never has and doesn’t now have anything to do with creating or protecting jobs,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson in his testimony on the bill. “Its purpose is to curb the power of workers and their unions at the bargaining table and in the Legislature.”

“(Right to Work) doesn’t belong in this state and all of our unions, including building trades unions, are going to stand up strong against it,” said Lee Newgent, Executive Secretary of the Washington Building Trades. “It doesn’t belong in Washington state now or ever.”

SB 5692 died without a vote.

Click here to see more reports from the Washington State Labor Council’s 2017 Legislative Report. Or download the entire 8-page PDF.

Exit mobile version