Legislature Wrap Up
For questions about the 2023-2025 contracts click here.
The legislature wrapped up its 105-day session on April 23, passing a final budget that fully funds state employee contracts for WPEA members. This legislative session, WPEA members successfully pushed the legislature to pass a host of bills that will benefit public employees. Here's a list of WPEA priorities that passed this year:
Full Funding of Contracts
The 2023-2025 state employee contracts that WPEA members negotiated are fully funded in the final budget, including...
Union Communication Privacy
HB 1187 (David Hackney)
Union members rely on confidentiality when talking with stewards or other union representatives about issues at work; WPEA stewards and staff work hard to protect the confidentiality of those communications. Just like talking to a lawyer, a doctor, or a counselor, talking to a union rep can involve personal or sensitive information that must remain confidential. But that kind of communication with a union rep doesn’t have the same protection under law that communication with a lawyer or counselor does. HB 1187 is a common-sense, bipartisan bill to protect communication between union members and their union representatives.
HB 1187 passed the House unanimously and passed the Senate 34-14.
Data privacy for survivors of DV/stalking/sexual assault
HB 1533 (Sharlett Mena)
Arising from a case originally brought by a WPEA member, this bill protects personal information in the personnel files of public employees from being disclosed under the Public Records Act. For survivors of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, this bill would provide stronger protections than HB 1888 (2020’s birthdate bill) currently does. Under the bill, their birthdate, job title, addresses of workstations and locations, work email address, work phone number, and bargaining unit will be protected from disclosure under the PRA. Members could provide a sworn affidavit that they need protection because they are survivors of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, along with some form of verification such as a police report, a petition for protective order, or simply by providing the name of their harasser. The protection from disclosure would last two years and can be renewed if necessary. As part of a compromise to get the legislation passed, we incorporated the same carveout for news media that was included in HB 1888.
This bill took quite a hard road to get to passage. Lots of WPEA members signed in supporting the bill or wrote their lawmakers in support, and two testified in public hearings. Senator Sam Hunt, chair of the Senate State Government committee, specifically credited WPEA members' senate testimony as the thing that pushed the bill over the finish line in his committee.
The final version of the bill passed the Senate unanimously and the House with an odd bipartisan vote of 57-41.
Public Safety Telecommunicator Pensions
HB 1055 (Drew Stokesbary)
911 communication centers, including those operated by Washington State Patrol, have been hit as hard as any agency by the ongoing staffing crisis at the state. The Wenatchee communication center was closed last year due to short staffing, and the rest are in dire straits. This bill would put these members into the Public Safety Employee Retirement System, which offers earlier retirement for those who serve at least 10 years. The bill recognizes the value of the work that public safety telecommunicators are doing, and should help with recruitment and especially retention.
It passed the House unanimously and passed the Senate 48-1.
Public Employer Data Sharing
HB 1200 (Emily Alvarado)
This bill standardizes and improves the data that public employers share with public employee unions. This bill covers our libraries and higher education employers, but not general government agencies.
It requires employers to provide info within 21 days of hire and a bargaining-unit-wide update every 120 days. Much of the information covered in the bill we have contractual language for, but some we do not in most contracts.
The Senate amended the bill to prevent unions from selling member personal information, an amendment we happily accepted.
The final version of the bill was mostly a party-line vote, passing the Senate 29-20 and the House 57-41.
There were other successful bills we worked on this year, including...
Not all our priority bills passed this year. Here are some bills that didn't make it all the way through the process, that we will keep working on through the year, to get passed next session.
Thanks to all the WPEA members who contacted lawmakers, signed in on bills, and spread the word about legislation this year.
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