Washington Adds New Laws To Protect Workers, Such As A Ban On Required Anti-union Meetings

Washington Adds New Laws To Protect Workers, Such As A Ban On Required Anti-union Meetings

Soon, workers in Washington will have more rights, such as the ability to stop their bosses from making them attend meetings about political or religious problems.

“We protect what we value in Washington state.” “We value our workers and our working families,” Gov. Jay Inslee said as he signed a package of bills Thursday to protect workers.

With the Employee Free Choice Act, Washington is the sixth state that doesn’t let companies punish or fire workers who don’t show up to “captive audience” meetings. companies often use these meetings to try to stop workers from joining unions.

The bill’s main sponsor, Sen. Karen Keiser, said, “This bill doesn’t stop an employer from saying what they want to say; it just doesn’t require an employee to listen.” Keiser’s last bill to become law before she leaves is the Employee Free Choice Act.

Inslee also signed a bill that lets the Department of Labor & Industries look into claims of pay equity discrimination based on age, race, disability, and other groups that are protected by Washington’s anti-discrimination rules.

The department has only been able to look into cases based on gender up until now. People from other protected groups could sue in civil court or make claims to the Human Rights Commission.

The pay gap between men and women in Washington is one of the worst in the country.

Senate Bill 5793, which Inslee also signed, makes Washington’s paid sick leave law even stronger. It now says that companies must give their workers at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours they work, which works out to about 12 to 18 weeks a year for most people. The law also lets workers take paid sick days to take care of sick family members.

With SB 5793, the term “family member” is expanded to include neighbors and people who are close to you. People will also be able to use paid sick leave if their child’s school or daycare is closed because of a neighborhood, state, or federal emergency.

As a result of other bills that were signed, all health care workers will not have to work extra hours, and incarcerated people will be able to join building apprenticeship programs.

The bills were signed by Inslee at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 46 office in Kent.

According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2023, 16.5% of all workers in Washington are members of a union. This means that there are about 576,000 union members in the state. The numbers show that 10% of people in the country joined a group last year.

Inslee said, “They’re a reason why we have the third-highest union membership in the state of Washington. And by the way, we won’t stop until it’s number one.”

The number of workers in Washington who belong to a union has been slowly rising since at least 2013. However, the state’s membership rate is now the lowest it has been in ten years, even though union activity is on the rise across the country.

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