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Bills to Allow Local “Right-to-Work,” Make Bargaining Negotiations Public Being Pushed in WA



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In Clark County, Washington, unions and democrats are opposing two pieces of proposed legislation they say will harm workers.  The two bills, one which would make the collective bargaining process public and the other which would create a county “Right-to-Work” law, are being introduced by Councilor David Madore.  Opponents argue that both pieces of legislation are illegal and would lead to a lengthy, expensive court battle.

Shannon Walker, President of the Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, told The Stand:

“Money’s tight and Clark County has serious issues to address on transportation, growth management, and promoting job creation.  So why is David Madore pushing a divisive ideological agenda that even he acknowledges is unenforceable? What’s the point other than to waste the council’s time and taxpayers’ money?”

The city councils of the cities that would be affected by the legislation — Blaine, Chelan, Sequim, and Shelton — have all deemed the ordinances illegal.  Sequim City Attorney Craig Ritchie questioned the legality of the measures, saying, “They interfere with and conflict with state law… They put the Sequim taxpayers in jeopardy of paying for potential unfair labor practices.”

The two measures are being pushed by the right-wing Freedom Foundation which is running a campaign to “defund the union political machine.”  The foundation sent emails to its members last Thursday urging them to contact Clark County’s councilors in support of the resolutions.  Scott Roberts, Citizen Action Network Director at the Freedom Foundation, would not say if his group officially supports Madore’s measures but he told The Columbian, “These are ideas we cherish.” He added, “If they want to move these ideas forward, we’re there to help.”

Madore praised the collective bargaining measure in a recent Facebook post, saying it would “champion a more open transparent government to turn the lights on the most secretive process in county government.”  Local unions argue that such a move would violate the state’s Open Public Meetings Act which specifically states that collective bargaining is exempt from laws that open discussion and debate to the public.  

Speaking to The Columbian, Shannon Walker called the measures “asinine’ and “embarrassing”:

“We’re 100 percent against any of this,” Walker said. “We’re disappointed in the way our county councilors are leading our community and we will not be sitting back on it.”


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