Citizens' Guide to Initiative 1501: to change the state’s public records act to further the special interests of organized labor

By ERIN SHANNON  | 
POLICY BRIEF
|
Sep 22, 2016

Download the full Citizens' Guide to Initiative 1501

Key Findings

  1. In 2001, Washington voters approved union-sponsored Initiative 775, which reclassified individual home care providers from private workers to state employees; the measure specified that individual providers are not employees of the state, but they are treated as public employees “solely for the purpose of collective bargaining.”

  2. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) contributed more than $1 million to the campaign to pass the measure in Washington. After passage of Initiative 775, SEIU Local 775 was certified to act as the monopoly union representative for all individual providers in Washington.

  3. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that classifying providers, including those that only take care of immediate family members, as public employees only for the purposes of unionization makes them “partial public employees” who cannot be forced to participate in a union or pay union dues or agency fees.

  4. SEIU executives led Initiative 1501 to block independent organizations from informing individual providers of their rights under Harris v. Quinn. Under the guise of protecting the elderly and disabled from consumer fraud and identify theft, the measure would prevent any group, except the union, from obtaining providers’ contact information currently available under the Public Record Act.

  5. Under Initiative 1501 the union would be exempt from its own exemption, meaning union executives, but not the public, would have full and exclusive access to the contact information they claim should be closely guarded.

  6. Washington’s public records laws are routinely hailed as a model of government accountability and transparency, and are widely recognized as among the best in the nation. Initiative 1501 would weaken the public’s right to access the public information that keep our government open and accountable.

  7. An objective reading of the text and a review of its background show that Initiative 1501 would not serve the general interest of the people of our state. On the contrary, it would only serve the narrow interest of one union that is seeking to gain financial benefit from exclusive access to public information.

  8. Our state’s Public Records Act should not be weakened for the benefit of a special interest group. 

 

Introduction

This fall, voters will decide on whether to pass Initiative 1501, a statewide measure that supporters say would increase penalties for identity theft and fraud targeting seniors and people with disabilities. On the surface the proposal seems to ban fraud activities that are already illegal.

A closer look reveals the measure is about much more than fighting illegal theft and fraud. The measure is an attempt by organized labor to change the state’s public records law to strengthen a union’s monopoly access to the contact information of Washington’s in-home caregivers. The effect of Initiative 1501 would be to prevent any non-union group from informing care-givers of their right not to pay union dues or agency fees if they do not want to.

This Citizens Guide summarizes the ballot proposal and describes how the policy changes it would require, under the guise of protecting society’s most vulnerable, would benefit organized labor and make it harder for in-home caregivers to learn about their right to not pay union dues or fees. 

Download the Citizens' Guide to Initiative 1501