In Olympia, Senate Committee considers worker protection bill, and two new House members take their seats

January 21, 2014

In the Senate Monday, the Commerce and Labor Committee considered a bill, SB 6053, to protect state workers who choose to pay their union a representation fee rather than full union dues. Currently, workers must renew this choice every year, or their option automatically expires. SB 6053 would keep the worker’s choice in place year after year, until the worker initiates a change. The bill also protects workers who have a religious objection to forced union membership.

Maxford Nelsen, a labor analyst with the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation, testified that the bill solves three distinct problems with the arrangement currently in place:

• many workers aren’t aware they have the right to opt out of paying full union dues;

• many unions require those who have opted out to renew their preference every year; 

• workers who opt out for religious reasons are still required to pay the full equivalent of union dues when they should only be charged a fee for representation.

Greg Deveraux, Executive Director of the Washington State Federation of State Employees, spoke against the bill. He said: “Collective bargaining costs money, and even those who don’t want to participate in the union benefit from the bargaining it does. We’re simply asking that everyone share the cost of something they benefit from.” He said the bill would make it extraordinarily difficult to collect full dues. 

The hearing was open to the public. No further action was taken on the bill.

Also on Monday, two newly appointed members took their seats in the House. State Representative Graham Hunt (R), replacing retired Rep. Gary Alexander (R) in the 2nd Legislative District, and Representative Jesse Young (R) in the 26th District, succeeding Jan Angel, (R) who in November had won election to the state Senate.

Rep Hunt, a 10-year veteran with combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a member of the Orting City Council and owner of a family insurance agency. He says he plans to resign from the City Council and wants to devote his work in the Legislature to helping small businesses and rural communities.

Rep. Young is a business technology consultant and was previously a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 6rh Congressional District. He lives in Gig Harbor with his wife Jennie, and their five children.