8/17/21 | NW News Network
Bottom Line ~~~
Since Democrats re-took the Washington Senate after a special election in 2017, they’ve enacted numerous pro-union bills, along with sweeping policy changes backed by unions. Democrats say their agenda is improving working and economic conditions for unionized and non-unionized workers alike. Critics on the right say unions, especially public-sector unions, have too much political sway in Washington.
If America’s unions are dying, no one told labor leaders in Washington. The state ranks fifth in the nation for union membership. That strength also translates to political power. In recent years, organized labor has helped Democrats solidify one-party rule. In turn, unions have notched a succession of legislative victories.
On the afternoon of March 1, 2018, the Washington House took up a controversial bill to privatize the state’s unionized homecare workforce — the roughly 46,000 individual providers who help bathe, dress and feed elderly or disabled clients in their own homes.
The lengthy and fiery debate that unfolded on the House floor would serve as a prelude for what was to come in the years ahead as Democrats, once again, asserted one-party rule in Olympia and advanced legislation backed by the state’s powerful unions.
Typically, Democrats aren’t fans of privatization. But in 2018, they touted the homecare privatization legislation — which had been requested by the administration of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee — as a way to outsource administrative functions that were taking away from client care.
“With this bill, we are reducing the paperwork so that we can increase care,” said Democratic state Rep. Tana Senn.
But minority Republicans insisted the bill was about something else — doing an end-run around a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said homecare workers who are quasi-public employees can’t be compelled to pay union dues. In theory, if the workforce was privatized, the union that represents homecare workers — Service Employees International Union 775 — could negotiate a contract that required home care workers to be members of the union and pay dues. (READ ARTICLE Unions flex political muscle)