I want to provide some insights on recent news from our nation’s Supreme Court. The court has issued several rulings that have impacts on people in our state, most notably the changes to how public-sector unions operate in what is known as the Janus decision.
During the 2018 legislative session, we all knew the court was considering this case and the ramifications would be significant. That’s why the Senate Majority did everything it could to pass laws to shield union bosses from the effects of the case.
We uncovered a confidential memo from union leaders to the Governor explaining what they needed and how to get around a ruling not in their favor. Now, public sector workers in our state will have more freedom to choose.
The Janus case hinged on whether unions could force public employees to pay certain types of union dues. There were concerns about what are called “agency fees,” collected from workers who opted to not join the union as a condition of keeping a job.
The reasoning was that those employees still benefited from the collective bargaining of wages and benefits even if they didn’t support the union’s political activities. After Janus, unions will have to do the same things that all associations do – prove the value of joining to prospective members. The Supreme Court ruled that workers must give affirmative consent to have their wages garnished to pay union dues.
Senate Republican Leader Schoesler sent several letters to Governor Inslee asking how he will implement needed policy changes to protect public employees’ First Amendment rights. While other states have already begun putting more money back into workers’ paychecks, our Governor has gone silent. However, the state’s HR department has indicated that these deductions will end.
I will continue to provide you updates on news from Olympia. Although the Legislature won’t convene until January 2019, I serve on several interim committees that meet regularly to discuss policy needs of the state. This includes looking at our state’s pension policy, military and veterans’ affairs, and issues around aging and disability.