A bill that would grant workers greater control over their workplace passed out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on a party-line vote, much to Democrats’ frustration. Senate Bill 5237 would grant more time to public employees seeking to decertify their union.
The Freedom Foundation points out that unions do not have to seek the approval of public employees after being initially certified to represent a bargaining unit. As a result, “Many—and perhaps most—government employees in Washington have never had the opportunity to vote on their union representative but have simply inherited a unionized workplace based on the decisions made by their predecessors years or even decades earlier.”
Employees who no longer wish to belong to a union, or who wish to switch unions, must go through a difficult decertification process. The Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) will only hold an election to determine whether or not to decertify or change unions if 30 percent of the employees in a bargaining unit sign a petition. However, that’s often not the most complex part of the process. The Freedom Foundation,
But employees can only file their decertification paperwork during a 30-day window two months prior to the expiration of their collective bargaining agreement. If employees miss the window or if the petition runs into a technical snag and needs correction, they must wait years before getting another opportunity. When a vote is held, however, workers typically vote to change unions or decertify.
SB 5237 takes the simple step of granting “employees an extra 60 days on the front end of the existing window, allowing employees a 90-day window to file their paperwork and providing enough time for mistakes to be corrected.” Unfortunately, even that’s too much for union executives and their Democrat legislative supporters, who depend on public employee unions for millions in campaign contributions.
Testifying before labor committee members, union executives spoke dramatically of the “chaos” and “catastrophe” that would ensue should the bill pass. Democrats, meanwhile, demonstrated their weak opposition to the bill. Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle) and Sen. Steve Conway (D-Tacoma), both devoted followers of big labor, made comments questioning the necessity of the legislation.
Committee Chair Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) happily explained that “…moving from 30 days to 90 days is reasonable for these (union) members to express their opinion on what can sometimes be complex issues.”