SB 6199, would restructure how the state Department of Social and Human Services works with tens of thousands of home health care workers by contracting them under a private vendor. The bill would also create an administrative board made up of agency employees, union representatives, and staff from the governor’s office, which would set the rate paid to the contractor, and, thus, the workers.
SB 6079, would exempt public employees from public disclosure requests. Senate Democrats and Democratic Governor Jay Inslee claim that the bill aims to protect the privacy of public employees from harassment or identity theft.
Senate Republicans argue that both bills were requested by SEIU 775 — a labor union representing around 30,000 home-health care workers in Washington. They say the requested policy changes are an effort by the union to maintain its membership base in the face of a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated laws requiring public employees to pay union fees even if they are not a member.
HB 2751 would change the state’s law to allow unions to collect dues and fees from public employees without bothering to get the written permission of those employees. Currently, a union needs the written authorization of public employees to have the government withhold a portion of their paycheck for the union. This bill would remove that requirement, instead putting the burden on public employees to take the initiative to affirmatively opt-out of the forced dues collection in writing.
While not an outright end run around a potential ruling in the Janus case, SB 6229 would give unions a minimum 30 minutes of taxpayer-funded time to pressure public employees to pay the union.