Legislative Update Report #4by Michael Rainey, President/Executive Director on May 18, 2023
2023 Legislative Session Final Report
The 2023 Regular legislative session adjourned on April 23, 2023. Although the governor called a special session to convene on May 16 to address the outstanding issues from the "Blake Fix," this was a successful session for labor advocates across the state. We were able to pass our priority legislation, and these new laws will bolster our ability to represent our members, create new protections for our members' privacy, and provide protection for communications between members and the Unions that represent them. Thanks to all our members who attended our lobby day in Olympia and spoke to their representatives to support these bills. Getting legislation passed like this is a testament to our collective strength and proof of our ability to get things done for working families.
HB 1200 Requiring Public Employers to Provide Employee Information to Exclusive Bargaining Representatives
HB 1200 was signed into law by Governor Inslee on May 1, 2023. This law will go into effect on July 23, 2023.
Unions have a duty of fair representation to all employees in a bargaining unit. But public employers do not provide new employee information consistently, timely, or accurately. For designated representatives, keeping up with many employees in large workgroups is challenging because employees have many different work sites and change their contact information. This bill will require employers to provide contact information regularly.
- This bill will require employers to provide contact information regularly by creating a clear minimum standard and format.
- Requires certain public employers (K-12, CTC's, 4-year regionals, city, and county) to provide the exclusive bargaining unit with information it has in its records for employees in bargaining units, such as:
- contact information,
- date of hire,
- salary, and
- job site location
- Oregon has a similar law.
HB 1187 Concerning Privileged Communication Between Employees and the Unions That Represent Them
HB 1187 was signed into law by Governor Inslee on May 1, 2023. This law will go into effect on July 23, 2023.
Union representatives have a responsibility to represent union members. They need complete information about situations from union members to determine whether to bring a grievance forward. Based on a recent court case, union members and representatives fear that those conversations will be used against them by their employers and can be required to be available through discovery. Before 2021 judges did not honor subpoenas about private conversations between union members and representatives. Since 2021, union records have been subpoenaed, and individuals have faced discrimination and retaliation. If employees are not confident that conversations will remain confidential, we will lose an essential part of union representation. Conversations between workers should not be weaponized against union employees, and we are supporting HB 1187 to avoid this happening to any other union members.
- This bill establishes the legal right of privacy for union communications by creating an exception from examination and disclosure for communication between a union representative and a union employee during union representation.
- Without the protections for these communications, the recent case could have a chilling effect on members bringing issues to their union.
HB 1533 Exempting the Disclosure of Certain Information of Agency Employees or Their Dependents Who are Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Harassment or Stalking
HB 1533 was signed into law by Governor Inslee on May 15, 2023. This law will go into effect on May 15, 2023.
Many domestic violence survivors spend most of their day at work and need avenues to protect them when they are there. Many also cannot maintain jobs because it makes them vulnerable to being found by their abusers. This act would help keep survivors safe at work and make employment more accessible. The current practice of going to court for an injunction to stop releasing a person's information is too lengthy, time-consuming, and expensive if you need a lawyer. A case currently on appeal to the Washington Supreme Court might make it necessary for employees seeking the protection of their work information to request an injunction on an individual case-by-case basis under the current law, which would be an inefficient way to protect workers.
The bill seeks to exempt the personally identifying information of certain agency employees (or their dependents) who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, or stalking from disclosure under the Public Records Act. Information including birthdate, job title, addresses of work locations, work email address, work phone number, or bargaining unit, is exempt from disclosure under the PRA
Other Bills of Interest
SB 5417 - Protecting the rights of workers to refrain from attending meetings or listening to their employer's speech on political or religious matters.
"Political matters" means matters relating to elections for political office, political parties, proposals to change legislation, proposals to change regulation, and the decision to join or support any political party or political, civic, community, fraternal, or labor organization.
This Bill was placed on the Senate Rules "X" files. This is a list of bills that the Rules Committee members agree will not be sent to the floor of the House or the Senate for further consideration.
HB 1540 - Requiring driver training curriculum to include instruction on sharing the road with large vehicles, including commercial motor vehicles and buses.
This bill would require an update to the driver training curriculum in Washington state to include instruction on sharing the road with large vehicles, including commercial motor vehicles and buses.
This Bill was signed into law by Governor Inslee on April 6, 2023. This law will go into effect on April 1, 2024.
SB 5328 - Concerning public safety employees' retirement plan membership for public safety telecommunicators.
Makes certain public safety telecommunicators eligible for membership in the Public Safety Employees Retirement System. This bill would make individuals who are members of the PERS Plans 2 and 3, whose primary responsibility is to respond and process 911 emergency calls for law enforcement, fire, medical, or other public safety services, eligible to participate in PSERS.
This Bill was placed on the Senate Rules "X" files. The House Companion Bill HB 1055 is still moving forward in the process. HB1055 was passed in the House on March 6, received its first reading in the Senate on March 8, and passed to the Senate Rules committee for the second reading on March 14.
HB1491 - Prohibiting unjustified employer searches of employee personal vehiclesProhibit employers from searching an employee's vehicle in the employer's parking areas. Provides for employee possession of personal property in their vehicle unless the law prohibits it. HB 1491 provides for investigations and potential civil penalties against the employer by the Department of Labor and Industries for violations.
HB1491 was signed into law by Governor Inslee on May 1, 2023. This law will go into effect on July 23, 2023.