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Short legislative session features some big victories

Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO publishes its Legislative Report and Voting Record for the 2024 session


OLYMPIA (May 2, 2024) –The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO has published its 2024 Legislative Report, which summarizes this year’s legislative session and shows how state legislators voted on bills of importance to Washington’s working families. (Download the full 18-page 2024 Legislative Report or just the 4-page 2024 Voting Record.)

WSLC-affiliated unions will be receiving printed copies of the 2024 Legislative Report soon in the mail. Printed copies also will be provided to delegates at the WSLC’s COPE Endorsement Convention on May 18 n Seattle and its 2024 Constitutional Convention on July 16-18 in Wenatchee.

In addition to reports about this year’s bills affecting Washington’s working families, the 2024 Legislative Report includes columns by WSLC President April Sims about advancements in pro-worker climate policy and by Secretary Treasurer Cherika Carter about centering labor on AI and tech issues.

Following is the summary report by WSLC Legislative Affairs Director Sybill Hyppolite. (Note that all of the bills mentioned — and many not mentioned — are explained in more detail elsewhere in the Legislative Report.)

Washington’s labor movement packed some big wins into the short 2024 legislative session. We made solid progress on an ambitious agenda, including some top priorities: the Legislature passed the Employee Free Choice Act (SB 5778, Keiser), protecting workers from captive audience meetings; a historic bill on sanitary conditions in construction (HB 2266, Stonier), ensuring a safe and healthy environment for menstruating and lactating workers; and a bill modernizing the process for public employees to form a union by using a digital signature (SB 6060, Nguyen).

Legislators advanced significant worker-focused climate policy this session. (See President Sims’ column for details.) We saw a win for wage equity with the passage of HB 1905 (Mena) which expands protections on wage discrimination from just gender to include race and other protected classes. The passage of HB 2226 (Ortiz-Self) on data for H-2A temporary agricultural workers will help prevent a race to the bottom on farmworker wages. SB 6106 (Conway) gives DSHS workers doing public safety work access to public safety retirement benefits. Similarly, SB 5873 (Wellman) ensures school bus drivers employed by contractors have fair access to health benefits.

HB 2061 (Bronoski) clarifies that state restrictions on mandatory overtime in health care apply to any employee of a healthcare facility involved in direct patient care or clinical services. SB 6007 (Conway) is designed to protect grocery and warehouse workers during employer mergers and acquisitions. SB 6105 (Saldaña) establishes an innovative approach to worker health and safety: offering a liquor license to adult entertainment businesses, on the condition that workplace standards are maintained. HB 1889 (Walen) passed, ensuring that immigration status is not a barrier to licensure for jobs. See Secretary Treasurer Carter’s column to learn about an upcoming task force on artificial intelligence (SB 5838, Nguyen) and the importance of worker voices there.

Additionally, the supplemental budget — spearheaded by lead budget writers Sen. June Robinson and Rep. Timm Ormsby — included noteworthy investments for workers: $72 million for paraeducator and office staffing in our public schools; $45 million for initial improvements to indoor air quality at schools; $747,000 to expand access to non-standard hours for child care; $325,000 to pilot near-site child care for construction workers; and $200,000 for training, credentialing and wrap-around services to help low-income Washingtonians get good union maritime jobs. $350,000 will fund legal aid to help workers access the federal labor-related deferred action program, a powerful counterbalance to the weaponization of immigration status for workers who organize for better working conditions.

While workers saw historic budget and policy successes, there were also significant disappointments this session. We will continue our advocacy next year on bills that did not pass, including unemployment insurance for striking workers (HB 1893/SB 5777), a deeply disappointing missed opportunity in the final days of session; fertility coverage (HB 1151/SB 5204); and fairness in the workers’ compensation system (HB 2168/SB 5991).

In the 2025 session, we will continue to bring collective action to the legislative space to achieve new wins for Washington workers, families and communities.

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!