State senator considers taking ‘right-to-work’ measure to the ballot

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OLYMPIA — As Boeing shops for other states as potential sites for the 777X production, some lawmakers argue it’s time for Washington to become a right-to-work state to keep the company from leaving and to preserve other industrial jobs.  But labor is already fighting back against the effort.

“We know today that we’re at risk of losing these fantastic, high-paying jobs because Washington state is not right-to-work,” said state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane.  “What did Governor Perry tweet?  Texas:  low taxes, right to work, come on down.”


State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane

Half the states in the country are “right-to-work” states, where employees are not required to join unions or pay dues.  Supporters argue that companies like doing business in those places because the fewer the union workers, the less they will have to pay workers, and the less likelihood of strikes.

Baumgartner wants Gov. Jay Inslee to call a special session of the Legislature right away to act on right-to-work.  That, he argues, will help save Boeing jobs here in Washington.  “It’s not about being anti-union,” he said.  “It’s about being pro-choice and pro-freedom.”

Right-to-work sounds simple enough, but the politics certainly aren’t.  One person’s right-to-work law is another’s union buster.

“That solidarity is what keeps labor together and keeps wages high,” said state Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle.  “This is essentially a right to starve.  This is a right to work for whatever the company is willing to pay.  It involves a race to the bottom, and if we go down this path I think we would be doing a major disservice to working people.”

Baumgartner recognizes that right-to-work is an uphill battle in a state with a Democratic governor and a Democratically controlled House, both closely allied with organized labor.  But he says he’s prepared to take the issue directly to the people with a ballot measure if Olympia doesn’t act.

“It’s a very simple concept,” he said.  “The people should have an optional choice, the personal freedom, to decide whether to join a labor organization just in order to pursue a job that can put food on the family’s table.”

Though Inslee is doing all he can to make sure Washington state lands the Boeing 777X, he has so far shown no interest in right-to-work legislation.

Baumgartner is looking at a potential ballot measure in 2015 if legislators don’t act.

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    • jake

      Right,and without union protection loyal competent workers are fired because the boss is having a bad hair day,and can be denied unemployment when the boss lies to DES about why they were fired. Right to work is about union busting and cheap labor. In those states workers have no rights whatever. I does not,as right to work advocates claim,give workers the right to join a union without paying dues. THAT is plain stupid! No union will give a worker union benefits and protections without dues! Would you go into a Burger King,order a meal and expect not to have to pay for it?Right to work and at will employment laws are nothing more than government sponsored and condoned employee abuse

  • Slam1263

    If Unions are so great for wages, why are they being paid the same wages at Boeing in Charleston?

    Why can't we fire public employees who pled guilty to child porn?

    Why can't we fire bad cops, teachers, and other public employees?

    • Skip

      According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Boeing employees make half what the Mukilteo crew receives in compensation. Plus, the South Carolina factory isn't up to speed and can't deliver the number of projected planes.

  • Pam

    Unions are bad. At Boeing they make $30+ an hour with benefits and they still strike and put their boots to management's throat to squeeze more money out of them. Also, public employees get fired for doing bad things but arbitrators bring them back for the most minor of technicalities and other nonsense reasons. The unions in this state own the democrat party. Inslee is a union puppet. Democrats have no clue what they are doing period. Well, they do know how to lie and make themselves look noble and trustworthy.

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