April 12 is the cutoff deadline for policy bills to pass opposite house
UPDATED (April 13, 2023) — Updated Thursday at 7 a.m., after the cutoff.
OLYMPIA — In addition to the healthcare staffing bill, several pro-worker bills — including legislation to protect against work-related musculoskeletal disorders and to improve energy facility siting and permitting — have now passed both houses and are headed to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for signature. But other bills supported by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO — such as basic protections for warehouse workers (see update below) and rail workers — have yet to receive a vote and
face faced this Wednesday’s cutoff deadline to do so.
Here is a status report — effective
Monday morning, April 10 Thursday morning, April 13 — 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.) The WSLC is urging legislators to allow floor votes on all of the policy bills that are listed in Rules Committee.
NOTE: The following is not a comprehensive list of all of the proposed legislation supported by the WSLC. In the interest of brevity, some WSLC-supported bills that missed previous cutoff deadlines (including companion bills that “died”) and WSLC-supported budget provisos are not listed in this update.
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.
The budgets proposed by majority Senate and House Democrats include funding for the state employee contracts/COLAs and $1,000 bonuses for getting a COVID booster shot; statutorily required COLAs for teachers; and rate increases for providers of long-term care which should translate into higher pay for in-home providers and employees of adult family homes, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities.
► Expand Collective Bargaining Rights — Frontline state supervisors in Washington Management Service (HB 1122), and academic student employees (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; passed Senate 40-9.
SB 5238 passed the Senate 34-15; passed House 72-24.
► 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; passed Senate 29-20.
► 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; passed Senate 34-14.
► 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; passed Senate 30-18.
► 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; passed Senate Environment, but failed to advance from Ways & Means.
► 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.
This is budget-related and not subject to cutoff deadlines. Senate and House capital budget proposals include some funds for this effort and the WSLC is urging that lawmakers maximize this investment.
► 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; passed Senate 35-14.
► 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; passed Capital Budget, but failed to emerge from Rules Committee 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; passed Senate Local Government and Ways & Means, but failed to emerge from Rules Committee for a floor vote.
► 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; passed House 51-46.
► 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; passed Senate 31-16.
► Hold TPAs Accountable in Workers’ Comp (HB 1521)— 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; passed Senate 32-17.
► PTSD Occupational Disease for Health Care (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.
SB 5454 passed the Senate 35-13; passed House 57-40.
► Warehouse Worker Protections (HB 1762) — 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; passed Senate 29-20, but was amended to strip the bill of enforcement provisions and to exclude many warehouse workers from its protections. The WSLC is urging the House not to concur so the Senate can fix it.
► Personnel Files (HB 1320) — 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; passed Senate Labor, but failed to advance from Ways & Means.
► 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; passed House 96-0; signed by Governor.
► 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; passed Senate 26-20.
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; passed House 95-2.
► 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; passed Senate 31-18.
► HB 1050 would extend apprenticeship utilization standards to subcontractors on state projects and to local governments.
HB 1050 passed the House 58-39; passed Senate 30-18.
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.
► 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; passed Senate 44-5. It was amended by the House 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.
Flexible Work & Income Requirements for Apprentices (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.
SB 5088 passed the Senate 49-0; passed House 98-0.
HB 1525 passed the House 96-0; passed Senate 36-12.
► 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; passed Senate Education, but failed to advance from Ways & Means.
HEALTH & WELL-BEING
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; passed House 96-0.
► 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; passed House 98-0.
► Rail Worker Leave (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.
SB 5267 passed the Senate 42-7; passed House Labor, but failed to emerge from Rules Committee 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; passed Senate 48-0.
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). This includes cost-of-living adjustments for plans that do not already have them worked into their structures, like PERS and TRS Plan 1 (SB 5350).
HB 1055 passed the House 96-0; passed Senate 48-1.
SB 5350 passed the Senate 48-0; passed House 97-0.
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. This is budget-related and not subject to cutoff deadlines.
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.