One of the services the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO provides its affiliated unions is legislative education and advocacy. As with collective bargaining, by joining forces and speaking with a united voice on public policy issues affecting working families, labor has greater influence. There are about 584,000 union members in Washington — 18.8% of the non-agricultural workforce — ranking us as the 3rd most unionized state in the nation. With few exceptions, the positions taken by the WSLC are on issues affecting ALL working people, not just union members. From the equal pay to minimum wage to workers’ compensation, the WSLC and its affiliated unions are proud to advocate for their rank-and-file members and all working families.
2019 Legislative Updates
There are two ways to make sure you know the latest about the legislative issues affecting working families during the 2019 session of the Washington State Legislature that begins Monday, Jan. 14. Read The Stand, our daily news service, and specifically its State Government stories. (Also make sure you subscribe to the WSLC email list to receive that news in your Inbox.) Plus read the WSLC’s weekly Legislative Update newsletter:
Senate votes to “Keep Washington Working” (March 11) — SB 5497 is the Keep Washington Working Act. It establishes a statewide policy supporting Washington state’s economy and immigrants’ role in the workplace, and ensures their access to state services. It develops strategies to protect our immigrant workforce, and secure their rights as workers and members of our communities. And last week, it passed the Senate, 30-16. Read more, including about House passage of important nurse and patient safety legislation, and a status report on WSLC-supported bills as another cutoff deadline approaches.
Job-creating 100% clean energy bill advances (March 4) — The Senate voted for labor-supported legislation to transition Washington to 100 percent clean electricity by 2045 on a 28-19 vote. “The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is committed to advancing good, equitable environmental policy that is also good labor policy,” said WSLC President Larry Brown. Read more, including a status report on labor-backed legislation following the latest cutoff deadline last Friday, March 1.
Where pro-worker bills stand in Olympia (Feb. 25) — The action in Olympia was fast and furious last week with the Friday, Feb 22 deadline for bills to pass out of policy (non-fiscal) committees in their houses of origin. This week promises to be the same, as the next cutoff date is this Friday, March 1. Check out a status report on legislation from the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO’s 2019 Shared Prosperity Agenda. Read more.
Legislators are updating state bargaining laws (Feb. 18) — The Legislature this year has the task of updating 40-plus years of collective bargaining statutes to ensure that they are aligned with last year’s Supreme Court Janus decision, while promoting clarity and consistency across public-sector bargaining relationships in our state. Read about some WSLC-supported bills to accomplish that and to expand and strengthen workers collective bargaining rights in our state. Also in this edition, read about some pro-worker clean energy policies and more. Read more.
Our time counts—at work and away from it (Feb. 8) — We should have the right to know when we’re going to work, and how many hours we’re going to be there so we can manage our lives. That’s the principle behind , sponsored by Rep. Nicole Macri (D-Seattle), which in the House Labor & Workforce Standards Committee. This bill is a statewide “secure scheduling” proposal that would provide workers advance notice of schedules, access to additional hours, expanded flexibility, and more balanced lives. Read more, including updates on efforts to boost community and technical college funding and the Senate’s recognition of Washington’s unions on the 100th anniversary of the Seattle General strike.
State’s unions ‘strong and getting stronger’ (Feb. 1) — Hundreds of union leaders and rank-and-file members from across Washington state gathered Thursday in Olympia to attend the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO’s 2019 Legislative Lobbying Conference at Hotel RL in Olympia. They got quick briefings on some priority pro-worker legislation and then went to the State Capitol en masse to lobby their state senators and representatives on those and other bills.
Worker classification needs more clarity (Jan. 25) — Employers that misclassify workers as independent contractors — either intentionally or unintentionally — shift their labor costs onto other businesses, taxpayers, and the workers themselves. This harms businesses that pay proper employment taxes, it weakens the middle class by denying workers access to basic job protections and social safety nets, and it robs the state of much-needed revenue. The WSLC is strongly supporting legislation to simplify and clarify our state’s employee classification system and those companion bills will get public hearings next week. Read more, including about a “right-to-work” bill the WSLC supports, collective bargaining rights for assistant attorneys general, and your last chance to register for the Jan. 30-31 WSLC Legislative Reception and Lobbying Conference.
In 2019, let’s start balancing the tax code (Jan. 16) — One of the priority issues on the WSLC’s Shared Prosperity Agenda is the critical need to balance our state’s upside-down tax code. Washington’s tax code has the infamous distinction of being the most unfair and regressive in the nation, meaning that the poorest among us pay the most in taxes and the wealthiest don’t pay their fair share. The WSLC will be supporting multiple legislative efforts to start balancing our tax code. Read more.
WSLC’s 2019 Shared Prosperity Agenda
The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO (WSLC), the state’s largest union organization with more than 600 affiliated unions representing some 450,000 rank-and-file members, today announced its 2019 Shared Prosperity Agenda for the session of the Washington State Legislature that begin on Monday, Jan. 14.
“Last fall, voters elected and re-elected pro-labor candidates because, despite a relatively strong economy, working families are facing more uncertainty, fewer protections on the job, and rising costs to meet basic needs,” said WSLC President Larry Brown. “With our 2019 legislative agenda we are urging the Legislature to take proactive steps to promote the creation of good jobs, secure reliable benefits, improve how government delivers services, and invest in healthy communities. That’s how to ensure that our current economic prosperity is truly shared.”
2018 Legislative Report & Voting Record
The 2018 edition of the Washington State Labor Council’s Legislative Report is now available. (Download the PDF or read it online at The Stand.) This annual report summarizes the fate of legislation affecting Washington’s working families in each year’s State Legislature, and how each legislator voted on these issues (or you can download the WSLC 2018 Voting Record only). Printed copies of the WSLC’s 2018 Legislative Report are being mailed to all affiliated unions. Officers, staff and rank-and-file members of WSLC-affiliated unions can request additional copies. Call 206-281-8901 for more information.
Download previous years’ Legislative Reports:
Download previous years’ WSLC Voting Records:
For earlier WSLC Voting Records, or for archived copies of previous years’ WSLC Legislative Reports, email your request to David Groves.