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Judge: City of Spokane must follow state law, negotiate with union

The following is from the Washington State Council of County and City Employees, AFSCME Council 2:

SPOKANE (Aug. 16, 2021) — Spokane Superior Court Judge Tony Hazel on Friday sided with the union representing Spokane city employees, invalidating a city ordinance calling for “open negotiations'” — an ideological priority of Councilmember Michael Cathcart. Hazel’s ruling chided sponsors for presenting voters with a deceptive ballot title and contents contradictory to established state labor laws, specifically undermining collective bargaining practices long respected by unions and management.

“For over 40 years, unions and the City of Spokane have negotiated in good faith — with fair contracts for workers, their families, and the people they serve,” said Chris Dugovich, President and Executive Director of the Washington State Council of County and City Employees (AFSCME, AFL-CIO). “This is a great victory for our members, and it’s gratifying to see a judge agree that the city must follow state law, but taxpayers should hold Michael Cathcart accountable for wasting time and tax dollars pushing an ordinance he knew violated the law.”

The ruling comes on the heels of a similar stonewalling at the county level, where commissioners aligned with the Freedom Foundation, an anti-union organization based in Olympia, have also refused to bargain in accordance with state law. Dugovich hopes the judge’s ruling reinforces the need for both the city and county to return to the table and bargain contracts for the nearly 2,000 frontline workers, some working without a contract for nearly two years.

“While politicians backed by the Freedom Foundation have postured and wasted money, public workers have shown up every day – during a pandemic – to protect our safety, sanitation, and quality of life,” said Dugovich. “The ruling today makes it clear that the games need to end, and workers need a fair contract. It shouldn’t take a judge to force politicians to respect their works, and their constituents.”

The Stand (July 13) — Spokane city, county workers picket for fair bargaining

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