In the U.S. 16 million union members represent a cross section of people -- women and men of all ages, races and ethnic groups. A right-to-work law secures the right of employees to decide whether or not to join or financially support a union. However, employees who work in the railway or airline industries are not protected by a right to work law, and employees who work on a federal enclave may not be.
What does this mean? Specifically it means that the law prohibits labor contracts that require union membership (or non-membership) as a condition of employment, even when the wages and benefits are the direct result of union activity.
Washington Right-To-Work Laws
A number of states have passed these laws. However, Washington is not one of them. Therefore, Washington employers and labor unions are free to negotiate contracts that require union membership.
Washington has historically been one of the nation's most pro-union states, and Democratic politicians in the state of Washington are often closely allied with the labor movement, getting in return strong labor support at election time.
Recently, there has been talk of Washington becoming a right-to-work state. Those who are against it, such as the Washington State Labor Union Council, believe right-to-work laws are considered union-busting, and oppose the passage of any such laws.
Do I Have To Join A Union In Washington?
The answer is "maybe." Certain employees may be required to join a labor union if it represents workers at their place of employment. Those who refuse to join the union may still be required to pay for the costs of representation, since they profit from the union's efforts in negotiating wages and benefits on behalf of all employees. Such "fair share" payments are often equivalent to the cost of union dues.
Learn more about Washington right to work laws (or the lack thereof) below, with links to related resources. See FindLaw's Union Member Rights FAQs for more information.
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Note: State laws surrounding labor laws and unions are constantly changing -- contact a Washington labor attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Washington Right to Work Laws: Related Resources
Contact a qualified attorney.