Austin Jenkins, Washington House Of Representatives, Washington discussed on KUOW Newsroom
If unions are dying in the united states than someone forgot to tell washington labor leaders about their demise the state ranks fifth in the nation for union membership and that strength can translate into political power. In fact organized labor has helped democrats solidify one party rule in recent years and in turn unions have notched a series of legislative victories. Olympia correspondent austin jenkins reports in collaboration with the seattle times on the rising influence of unions. Right here in washington state. No further amendments. Look he was march of two thousand eighteen lawmakers in the washington house of representatives. We're about to debate one of the most contentious pieces of legislation of the year and goes substitute senate. Bill six one nine nine on it had to do with state funded homecare workers. These are people who bathe dress and feed elderly or disabled adults in their own homes. The legislation aimed to privatize this quasi-public workforce democrats don't usually push for privatization but state representative tana. Senn said in this case it would benefit the workers and their clients with this bill. We are reducing the paperwork so that we can increase care but that argument rang hollow for minority republicans. Who insisted the bill was about something else. Ensuring that homecare workers couldn't opt out of paying union. Dues this is nothing more than a payback to a union that was republican state representative. Joyce mcdonald getting gaveled down for impugning. The motives of the bill's supporters in the end house democrats passed the homecare bill without a single republican vote in fact. Republicans were so incensed. They refuse to vote on the bill. A move rarely seen that. Vote in two thousand. Eighteen sent a message. Democrats were back in control and olympia. After several years of divided control if the end of the two thousand eighteen session unions heralded the passage of bills that had previously been bottled up under split control. Equal pay voting rights prevailing wages and bargaining rights in the years since democrats have grown their majorities and continue to approve union backed legislation some of it high profile much of it. Well below the radar. I think one of the things that we're seeing is a real effort. A concerted effort to take advantage of the fact that the governor the senate and the house are all democrats at the moment. This is professor. Kim england directs the harry bridges center for labor studies at the university of washington. She says washington has bucked the national trend of declining union membership in large part because of the state's robust public sector and service worker unions..