labor unions | KNKX

labor unions

Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

Across the state, teachers’ unions are trying to negotiate pay increases for their members. At the same time, a conservative group is telling teachers they can get that extra compensation without paying any union dues.

Teachers in the Puget Sound region have received mailings recently from the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation telling them they don’t have to financially support a union.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

Washington state has the third-highest rate of union membership in the country, after New York and Hawaii. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 only applies to workers in the public sector, private-sector unions here said they face implications as well.

University of Washington

Post-doctoral researchers occupy sort of a gray area on many university campuses. They're no longer students, but they aren't ready to be professors either. You see postdocs a lot in the sciences, where that extra lab time is virtually required before having a university lab of one's own.

Russel A. Daniels / AP Photo

Post-doctoral researchers at the University of Washington are trying to form a union to negotiate better wages and working conditions. 

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There is a big debate, locally and nationally, about whether public-sector workers should be required to pay dues or fees to the unions that represent them.

Ed Ronco / KNKX

Postdoctoral researchers at the University of Washington are one step closer to forming a union after the university challenged their efforts last fall.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments Monday in a case that has big potential consequences for public-sector unions in Washington state. If the conservative majority on the court rules against the unions, they could be hurt financially, according to one legal expert.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case later this month that could deal a blow to unions representing public sector employees.

It asks whether government workers should be required to pay union dues if they disagree with the union's politics. It builds on another case involving home health care workers paid through Medicaid.

These issues are also playing out in Washington state.

A fiery partisan battle has erupted in Olympia over a union-backed measure involving homecare workers. Underlying the fight is whether these workers should be able to opt out of their union.

The debate led to tense moments on the floor of the Washington Senate late Wednesday night.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Monday in two lawsuits against Seattle's law allowing drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to unionize.

The lawsuits were dismissed by a District Court judge in August. But both groups are appealing to let the lawsuits proceed. 

Ed Ronco / KNKX

Postdoctoral researchers at the University of Washington are taking a step toward unionizing. They’re working with UAW Local 4121, which represents academic student employees at the university.

One woman holds up an "Every Driver Counts" sign while another holds one that says "$15 and a Union" at a packed meeting about for-hire driver unionization at Seattle City Hall.
Simone Alicea / knkx

More than 200 people gathered at Seattle City Hall Tuesday afternoon to talk about how drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft could potentially unionize.

The hearing was held to talk about draft rules the city released a couple weeks ago regarding an ordinance the Seattle City Council passed last year.  

In this March 14, 2014, file photo, Jerad Bernard hands out cards to passers-by offering one free ride through the Lyft ridesharing service in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / AP

The Seattle City Council has extended the deadline for the city to figure out out how to implement a law allowing drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to unionize.

The City Council approved the ordinance last year and tasked the city Department of Finance and Administrative Services with determining the rules for how drivers and unions could work together.

KNKX file photo

Adjunct faculty at Seattle University have voted to unionize. Faculty members cast their ballots two years ago, but counting them had been on hold while the Jesuit university appealed to the National Labor Relations Board, seeking an exemption from the labor board’s jurisdiction on religious grounds.

A panel of the NLRB decided this summer that the votes should be counted. That happened Friday, and the result was 73-63, in favor of representation from the Service Employees International Union.

"hallway in the cherry tree inn in billings" by Bradley Gordon is licensed under CC by 2.0

On Monday,  the Seattle City Council endorsed an initiative slated for the November ballot that was designed to protect hotel workers in the city.  That initiative is opposed by hotel owners who worry the measure goes too far.

Initiative 124 is broad, covering employee health care, workplace safety, and how hotels should protect workers from sexual harassment.

The U.S. Supreme Court has deadlocked on a 4-4 vote in a major labor case. The court, without further comment, announced the tie vote Tuesday. The result is that union opponents have failed, for now, to reverse a long-standing decision that allows states to mandate "fair share" fees from nonunion workers.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

UPDATE: In its meeting Monday, the Seattle City Council voted 8-0 to approve a measure that allows drivers for ride-hailing companies to unionize.

Seattle’s City Council will take up an ordinance on Monday that lawyers say is unprecedented. The council is scheduled to vote on whether to allow drivers for ride-hailing companies such as Uber to form unions and collectively bargain for better pay. 

seiuhealthcare775NW / Flickr

Seattle voters will have to choose between two ballot measures that both aim to help improve education for preschoolers, but in different ways.

The city’s plan, Proposition 1B, would set up a pilot program of subsidized preschool using a property tax levy.

The competing measure, Proposition 1A, is sponsored by two unions, Service Employees International Union Local 925 and American Federation of Teachers, a national teachers’ union affiliated with AFL-CIO.

Prop. 1A calls for a quicker path to a minimum wage of $15 an hour for child care teachers and would set a city policy that states no family should have to spend more than 10 percent of the household income on child care.

One other provision that’s drawn less attention is a plan to set up a system of training in which the unions would play a bigger role. 

Austin Jenkins

As the state of Washington resumed bargaining sessions with its unionized employees Wednesday, protesters were present to criticize the secret nature of the meetings.

Chanting, "Secret meetings have got to go,” protesters waved signs that read “transparency now.” These protesters from the conservative Evergreen Foundation were greeted by staff and members of the Washington Federation of State Employees.