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Status report on pro-worker bills in Olympia

UPDATED at 6 a.m. on Thursday, Mar. 9, after house-of-origin cutoff.

OLYMPIA (Feb. 27, 2023) — A substitute version of the healthcare safe staffing bill advanced from the Senate Ways & Means Committee, where similar legislation died last year. The Senate overwhelmingly approved an important highway safety bill. But a legislative effort to grant unemployment benefits to undocumented workers has apparently failed for 2023.

Last Friday, Feb. 25 was the cutoff deadline for bills to pass from fiscal committees. The next cutoff, the deadline for bills to pass from their houses of origin, is Wednesday, March 8.

Here is a status report — effective Monday morning, Feb. 27 Thursday morning, Mar. 9 — on some of the bills supported by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO from its “Better Jobs, Stronger Communities” 2023 legislative agenda. (Follow the bills links for their up-to-the-minute status.)

NOTE: The following is not a comprehensive list of all of the proposed legislation supported by the WSLC. Also, when a bill misses a cutoff deadline, it isn’t necessarily dead. It could still be included in budget bills at the end of the session.

TAKE A STAND — Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 to leave a message for your state senators and representatives in support of any of these important bills.


Public employee raises will be part of the biennial budget that is approved near the end of the session, and are not subject to bill cutoff deadlines.

Expand Collective Bargaining Rights — Frontline state supervisors in Washington Management Service (HB 1122), and academic student employees (HB 1291/SB 5238) at regional four-year universities should have the right to join together in unions and negotiate for better wages and working conditions.

HB 1122 passed the House 88-8; now in Senate Labor. HB 1291 passed the House 69-27; now in Senate Labor. SB 5238 passed the Senate 34-15; now in House Labor.

Minimum Standards for Bargaining Unit Information (HB 1200) — To ensure that unions can deliver on their duty to represent all employees—in good faith and without discrimination—public employers shall provide employee contact information to an exclusive bargaining representative within certain time limits.

HB 1200 passed the House 56-41; now in Senate Labor. 

Protect Private Member Records (HB 1187) — Protect union membership records from employers’ fishing expeditions in lawsuits to which the union is not a party.

HB 1187 passed the House 95-0.

OFM Salary Survey (HB 1774/SB 5694) — In advance of contract negotiations, the Office of Financial Management conducts a salary survey to better understand compensation across like jobs in other states and communities. During bargaining, however, this survey’s use is limited. The Legislature should clarify that this research can be used to inform conversations about compensation.

HB 1774 failed to advance from State Government. SB 5694 passed State Government, but failed to advance from Ways & Means.


Siting and Permitting (HB 1216) — Legislators should build on improvements to energy facility siting and permitting processes made in 2022. As our state’s energy strategy evolves, these processes must also adapt to ensure timely, predictable reviews without denying impacted communities substantive opportunities for input.

HB 1216 passed the House 75-20; now in Senate Environment. 

Buy Clean/Buy Fair (HB 1282) — The state spends billions every year on construction materials for public infrastructure, which are often manufactured overseas in countries with poor labor standards and inadequate environmental protections. The state should pilot a program to track the labor and environmental impact of the materials it purchases to build our roads, bridges, and public buildings.

HB 1282 passed the House 57-40; now in Senate Environment.

Climate Upgrades to Schools — The opportunity to reduce energy consumption by modernizing our schools is enormous. Energy conservation and generation advancements, HVAC and heating upgrades, water improvements, and other investments will lower related carbon emissions, improve student and staff health, and create thousands of quality construction jobs.

Potentially in the capital budget, this effort is not subject to cutoffs.


Reform Exclusionary Zoning (HB 1110) — Zoning that blocks construction of more affordable, denser housing should be reformed so more housing options are available for wage-earning workers and their families.

HB 1110 passed the House 75-21; now in Senate Housing.

Legalize Significant Density Near Transit (SB 5466) — To maximize the benefits of our transportation investments—and give people more options for trips to work, school, and the grocery store—legislators should take significant steps to promote transit-oriented development.

SB 5466 passed the Senate 40-8; now in House Housing.

Flexibility on Parking Minimums (HB 1351) — To create more housing options, the state should prohibit minimum parking requirements except in limited cases, particularly within proximity to public transit services.

HB 1351 passed Local Government; was not pulled from Rules for a floor vote.

Make It Easier to Build (HB 1167) — By streamlining permitting processes, lawmakers can remove barriers to housing construction and lower homes’ costs.

HB 1167 passed the House 95-0; now in Senate Local Government. 


Washington Safe at Work (SB 5217) — The state is prohibited from adopting common sense rules to avoid work-related musculoskeletal disorders due to a business-run initiative 20 years ago. The Legislature should allow L&I to adopt such regulations to avoid these biggest drivers in workers’ compensation claims and costs.

SB 5217 passed the Senate 27-21; now in House Labor.

Employee Free Choice Act (SB 5417) — Workers across the country are finding their power by joining together in unions, and employers are working harder than ever to stop them. Companies, including Starbucks and Amazon, often use coercive captive-audience meetings to intimidate workers into abandoning their voice. The Legislature should ban employers from firing or retaliating against workers who choose not to participate in such meetings.

SB 5417 passed Labor; was not pulled from Rules for a floor vote.

Reform Compelled Medical Exams (HB 1068) — In workers’ compensation claims, workers are often subjected to compelled examinations by third-party doctors who fail to adequately review medical files or meaningfully assess the injured workers. Workers should be allowed to record these exams, as in non-workers’ comp litigation.

HB 1068 passed the House 65-33; now in Senate Labor.

Hold TPAs Accountable in Workers’ Comp (HB 1521/SB 5524)— Employers that self-insure workers’ compensation often utilize third-party administrators to aggressively manage claims, reduce injured workers’ benefits, and drag out litigation that results in settlements for pennies on the dollar. The Legislature should adopt stricter standards and increase penalties when TPAs’ actions result in unlawful delays in benefits and abuse of injured workers.

HB 1521 passed the House 69-27; now in Senate Labor. SB 5524 passed Labor; was not pulled from Rules for a floor vote.

PTSD Occupational Disease for Health Care (HB 1593/SB 5454) — Healthcare workers are consistently exposed to the physical, psychological, and emotional trauma of their patients, creating a toll on these workers’ own wellbeing. In recent years, the Legislature has expanded workers’ compensation protection to other workers with PTSD due to regular—instead of just singular—traumas, Lawmakers should do the same for healthcare workers.

HB 1593 passed Labor and Appropriations; was not pulled from Rules for a floor vote. SB 5454 passed the Senate 35-13; now in House Labor.

Warehouse Worker Protections (HB 1762 / SB 5348) — Workers in largely automated warehouses, particularly those owned by Amazon, experience significantly higher injury rates due to lax health-and-safety protections and demanding quotas that pit workers against automated fulfillment systems. The Legislature should put sideboards on this model to avoid worker exploitation and to protect their health.

HB 1762 passed the House 53-42; now in Senate Labor. SB 5348 passed Labor; was not pulled from Rules for a floor vote.

COVID Occupational Disease Fix (HB 1785) — The 2021 Legislature passed HELSA, a landmark pandemic-era slate of worker protections. Unfortunately, many of the workers who should benefit from the workers’ compensation elements of the law have been denied benefits due to ambiguity in the language for presumptive disease coverage. The Legislature should fix this gap in occupational disease coverage for these essential workers.

HB 1785 failed to advance from House Labor.

Personnel Files (HB 1320 / SB 5071) — Workers have a right to know what information employers put in their personnel files. The Legislature should enforce that right.

HB 1320 passed the House 56-40; now in Senate Labor. SB 5071 passed Labor, but was referred to Ways & Means and failed to advance.

Highway Worker Safety (SB 5272) — Our state highways are some of the most dangerous job sites in the state, especially for those who build, maintain, and improve this critical infrastructure. Lawmakers should adopt higher safety standards to ensure these workers return home unharmed every day.

SB 5272 passed the Senate 47-2; now in House Transportation.

Wage Replacement for Workers Left Out (HB 1095/SB 5109) — Not every worker qualifies for unemployment insurance. The state should take steps to provide a supplemental wage replacement benefit for these workers.

HB 1095 passed Labor, but failed to advance from Appropriations. SB 5109 passed Labor, but failed to advance from Ways & Means.

Unemployment for Caregivers (HB 1106) — Current unemployment insurance law makes it difficult for workers with caregiving responsibilities at home to find suitable work at times or locations that work for their families. The Legislature should adjust the “good cause quit” standards to accommodate modern family care giving needs.

HB 1106 passed the House 51-44; now in Senate Labor. 


SB 5236 passed the Senate 35-13; now in House Labor. The final bill reflects a compromise between healthcare worker unions and hospital executives after negotiations led by Sens. June Robinson (D-Everett) and Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah).




Washington has a need for deep investment in workforce development. We must widen the pipeline for skilled, professional nurses and other healthcare workers, secure and grow our manufacturing workforce to leverage domestic supply chain development opportunities, and to build the climate and transportation infrastructure necessary to deliver on our state’s energy transition.


SB 5269 would study manufacturing opportunities to identify the best sectors to accelerate production of materials necessary for our state’s energy transition. This analysis should include the needs of current manufacturing employers, including supply chain challenges and opportunities to attract new investments. This will help our state hone its competitive edge in industrial employment.

SB 5269 passed the Senate 28-20.

► Aviation is a critical component of our manufacturing sector. The state should continue its $2 million annual aviation workforce and apprenticeship investments.

This is budget-related and not subject to cutoffs.


► Meat Cutting and Fishmonger apprenticeships provide workers in the grocery sector an opportunity to improve their skills and earnings, securing quality careers in a trade that is in high demand by food industry employers. The state should invest $1 million to match private dollars in union grocery apprenticeship programs.

This is budget-related and not subject to cutoffs.

Health Care

► Nurse educators’ compensation at 4-year universities must be improved, building on progress made at CTCs.

► Building the healthcare workforce from within with matching funds for joint labor-management programs appropriated by the Legislature. This will expand the pipeline for desperately needed frontline care providers.

These are budget-related and not subject to cutoffs.


HB 1176 would study future clean energy necessities to identify the needed occupations and skill sets that our green energy transition requires. A committee of training providers should be included to inform the study’s findings.

HB 1176 passed the House 59-37; now in Senate Higher Education. 

HB 1050 would extend apprenticeship utilization standards to subcontractors on state projects and to local governments.

HB 1050 passed the House 58-39; now in Senate Labor. 

SB 5133 would include training agent status as part of responsible bidder criteria to expand apprenticeship opportunities.

SB 5133 passed State Government, but failed to advance from Ways & Means.

► K-12 pre-apprenticeship investments that expand Core Plus offerings in to new crafts.

This is budget-related and not subject to cutoffs.

Job Skills Program

► Increase funding for the Job Skills Program so that more employers can seek matching funds to modernize incumbent worker training in sectors requiring new skills or technology to remain competitive.

This is budget-related and not subject to cutoffs.


► Expand maritime training programs to more community and technical colleges outside of Seattle.

This is budget-related and not subject to cutoffs.




Educational investments are a core duty of state government, the prioritization of which pays dividends in terms of students’ social and emotional health, and economic wellbeing. Supporting teachers, faculty, and employee wages, reasonable levels of staff, and making investments in nutrition and early learning will be a significant priority in 2023.

Fund Statutory K-12 and CTC Inflationary Wage Increases and General Living Wage Salary Increases for Faculty and Staff — This investment will improve our institutions’ ability to retain and recruit educators to best serve students’ needs.

This is budget-related and not subject to cutoffs.

Pay Equity for Part-Time Faculty (SB 5557) — At some of Washington’s community and technical colleges, part-time faculty are paid as little as 52% of what full-time staff earn for teaching the same class with the same qualifications. SB 5557 would provide pay equity for part-time faculty at CTCs.

SB 5557 passed Higher Education, but failed to advance from Ways & Means.

Public School Nutrition (HB 1238) — Provide free access to school meals to ensure students have a solid foundation for learning and health.

HB 1238 passed the House 93-3; now in Senate Education. It was amended by the Appropriations Committee to expand access to free school meals to 90,000 students who previously did not qualify for the program, as opposed to all students.


Bonus for Non-Standard Hours (DCYF) — Adopt rate enhancement for providing non-standard hours of care at Early Achievers facilities. By broadening the available hours of child care, the Legislature will make it more accessible for working parents in critical 24-hour jobs where the work day starts early, ends late, and for shifts that run overnight.

This is budget-related and not subject to cutoffs.

Flexible Work & Income Requirements for Apprentices (HB 1309/SB 5088 and HB 1525) — As workers transition in to apprenticeship programs, many find themselves disqualified from necessary public support. The Legislature should make Working Connections available for those enrolled in state-registered apprenticeships, and should raise the SMI threshold for meaningful apprenticeship access to childcare assistance. Further, DSHS should seek a federal waiver to income eligibility criteria for first-year apprentices.

HB 1309 passed Labor; was not pulled from Rules for a floor vote. SB 5088 passed the Senate 49-0; now in House Labor. HB 1525 passed the House 96-0; now in Senate Education. 

○ Near Site Childcare Pilots Job Skills Program Fund — A pilot to explore construction job-site proximate childcare facilities with subsidies to support childcare access.

This is budget-related and not subject to cutoffs.

Teacher Residency (HB 1565) — Support teacher residencies that are diversifying the workforce, addressing subject-matter staffing shortages and improving retention.

HB 1565 passed the House 69-37; now in Senate Education.




Washington state has a social safety net that provides meaningful support for families when they need it most. However, there are gaps through which workers fall that the Legislature should prioritize filling so no one is left behind.

Paid Family & Medical Leave (SB 5286) — The Legislature should pass into law the recommendations made by the PFML Legislative Task Force to ensure the financial health of this extremely popular and effective program.

SB 5286 passed the Senate 48-0; now in House Labor.

Sick Leave for Construction Workers (SB 5111) — Our state’s landmark sick leave law approved by voters in 2016 has helped workers take better care of themselves and their families. However, many construction workers are unable to utilize this benefit due to the revolving nature of their employment. The Legislature should provide flexibility to ensure these workers can better utilize this benefit.

SB 5111 passed the Senate 48-0; now in House Labor.

Rail Worker Leave (HB 1548 / SB 5267) — Despite years of attempting to secure basic rights to sick leave, railroad workers remain one of the few groups of workers without this core protection. These bills would provide job protections for rail workers when they take certain unpaid leave. Rail workers are only asking not to be fired or disciplined when they must take unpaid leave for illnesses or absences.

HB 1548 passed Labor; was not pulled from Rules for a floor vote. SB 5267 passed the Senate 42-7.

Hospital Mergers (SB 5241) — Large healthcare systems continue to absorb competitors, which in many cases has reduced patients’ access to important care, including contraception and abortion. The state must pass laws to ensure that these mergers do not restrict access to necessary health care and family planning resources, especially in rural communities where options are limited.

SB 5241 passed Law & Justice and Ways & Means; was not pulled from Rules for a floor vote.

Fire Proofing Materials (HB 1323) — When there’s a fire in a commercial building, dozens—if not hundreds or thousands—of lives can be at risk. Time makes all the difference in saving those inside. The proper application of fire proofing materials buys the time necessary for occupants to exit and for first responders to do their duty. The Legislature should adopt training and certification requirements to ensure that this critical element of fire safety is always performed correctly.

HB 1323 passed the House 97-0; now in Senate Labor.

► Health Care for Bus Drivers — School districts contract transportation services to contractors that fail to provide adequate health and pension benefits. The Legislature should ensure contracted bus drivers, who provide the same exact services as school district employed bus drivers, have comparable benefits.

This is budget-related and not subject to cutoffs.




Washington’s labor community supports the full funding of our public pensions and improvements for those whose benefits are low or out of synch with their needs (HB 1055/SB 5328). This includes cost-of-living adjustments for plans that do not already have them worked into their structures, like PERS and TRS Plan 1 (HB 1057/SB 5350).

HB 1055 passed the House 96-0; now in Senate Ways & Means. SB 5328 passed Ways & Means; was not pulled from Rules for a floor vote. HB 1057 passed the House 96-0; now in Senate Ways & Means. SB 5350 passed the Senate 48-0; now in House Appropriations.




Washington state has the most regressive, upside-down, and backward tax system in the country. Low-and-middle income families pay far more of their income than so the wealthiest to support our schools, safety net programs, and public safety. The labor community supports revenue options that secure high-quality public services and jobs, but that do not fall on working families. Further, when tax preferences are considered, they should be tied to strict labor standards which promote the highest quality and number of jobs practicable.

This effort applies to multiple bills on tax preferences. Revenue issues are budget-related and not subject to cutoffs.


In addition to this 2023 WSLC Legislative Agenda, the WSLC supports other legislation championed by its affiliated unions and a range of issues to address economic opportunity and justice.


CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington state: 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 working conditions and respect on the job. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!