The Washington State Legislature sent legislation to the governor’s desk that would amend state labor union law.
On April 18, the Washington House of Representatives approved an amended version of HB1575, which the Washington State Senate adopted on April 12. This bill would declare that public employers and public-sector unions are not liable for claims involving agency fees paid to unions prior to Janus. It would repeal statutes requiring employees to join unions or pay dues as a condition of employment. It would also amend dues deduction authorization laws, allowing authorizations to be initiated via electronic, voice, or written communications. A written request to the union would be required to discontinue dues deductions.
The House voted 56-38, and the Senate voted 25-21. The votes in both chambers split largely along party lines, with most Democrats voting in favor of the bill and most Republicans voting against it. The bill now goes to Governor Jay Inslee (D).
Sen. Rebecca Saldana (D) said the following in support of the bill during floor debate: “It is a bill that aligns our current statutes with the Janus decision and clearly defines the relationship between the union and the employee.” The Washington State Labor Council (AFL-CIO) also supported the bill, making the following statement via its news service, The Stand: “The Washington State Senate on Friday approved landmark collective bargaining legislation that brings state laws into compliance with last year’s Janus decision by the U.S. Supreme Court and provides clarity and consistency for public employee union membership in Washington state.”
During floor debate, Sen. Curtis King (R) criticized the bill with respect to its position on Janus: “The Janus ruling was not an anti-union decision, it was a ruling about rights, it was a ruling about freedom. It said the individual can decide what they want to do. You cannot be forced to join a union to get a public job. It’s about freedom. That’s all it was about.” Maxford Nelsen, the Freedom Foundation’s director of labor policy, said the following in a press release: “Union-backed lawmakers in Olympia are establishing quite a track record of passing illegal and unconstitutional laws to benefit their political allies at the expense of public employees’ civil liberties.”
On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that public sector unions cannot require non-member employees to pay fees covering the costs of non-political union activities. This overturned precedent established in the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.