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Attempt To Make Washington Next 'Right To Work' State Met With Hefty Opposition

Jeanie Lindsay
Northwest News Network
Union members swarmed to the Washington State Capitol in Olympia during a committee hearing Wednesday, in protest of a proposed ''Right to Work'' law.

There’s a movement sweeping states across the nation, known as the “Right to Work.” State Senators in Olympia heard a bill Wednesday that would bring it to Washington.

The bill isn’t likely to pass, with its prime sponsor and committee chair, Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner calling it a “heavy lift.” And if the crowd of over 1,000 people who signed in to oppose the bill are any indication, he may be right.

Much of the opposition echoed Dennis Lawson, president of the Washington Council of Firefighters.

“There is nothing right about Right to Work,” he said.

Essentially, so-called Right to Work laws make union dues and membership non-compulsory.

Baumgartner sponsored a similar bill in 2013. But this is the first one scheduled for public testimony in the state, ever.

Supporters claim it would create jobs and cultivate a better business climate. It would give workers the right to choose unions, a panel said, and could increase disposable income for workers.

Opponents laughed at those statements during the hearing. Many said a Right to Work law would break up and take vital bargaining power away from unions.

Earlier this week, Missouri became the 28th state to adopt this type of legislation. A committee in New Hampshire voted against a similar bill.