With a powerful political team and strong member engagement, Teamsters 117 had an amazingly productive legislative session in Olympia this year. Some of our accomplishments are listed below:
- We funded State employee contracts with significant improvements and wage increases;
- We passed bills to expand collective bargaining rights for State workers and grow manufacturing jobs;
- We improved pensions for our members who take 911 calls and dispatch first responders;
- We passed bills to care for healthcare workers who care for us;
- We passed bills to protect injured workers and prevent worker injuries;
- We passed bills to protect public employees who are survivors of domestic violence;
- We passed the strongest bill in the country to protect the conversations between workers and their union;
- We passed a first-in-the-nation bill that grants Uber and Lyft drivers access to unemployment insurance and Paid Family Leave;
- We took on the largest global retailer in the world - Amazon - and won!
Want to learn more? Check out some of the policy details:
Improving retirement for 911 call takers and dispatchers (HB 1055)
Emergency calls-takers and dispatchers work long, stressful shifts providing support to people in crisis. Last year, we helped these workers become reclassified as first responders; this year, we successfully moved them into the Public Safety Retirement System (PSERS). PSERS shortens the number of years they have to work and allows more people in the profession to access a secure retirement.
Protecting Worker Privacy (HB 1187)
When a worker goes to their Union with a problem, they have an expectation that their conversation is confidential. Often conversations about sexual harassment, mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse, discrimination, and other sensitive topics are discussed with Shop Stewards or Union staff. Unfortunately, some employers want to access that information and have gained access through the courts. This year, we passed legislation that keeps worker conversations with their union representatives confidential and prevents employers from subpoenaing those records to use against workers in court.
Protecting Warehouse Workers (HB 1762)
Warehouse workers do fast-paced, physically demanding work to make sure goods get out to consumers. Many large warehouses use a production standard, or quota, to keep workers on task and to keep freight moving out their doors. Production standards must be carefully engineered to keep workers from sustaining debilitating repetitive motion injuries and muscle strains. This year, our Union helped pass the Warehouse Worker Protection Act. The new law requires companies to inform workers upon hiring what the standard is and how it is calculated. Companies must also inform workers if the standard changes and prevent workers from working during rest or meal breaks to meet the standard.
Expanding Collective Bargaining for WMS workers (HB 1122)
Some state workers, including some who work alongside Teamsters at the Department of Corrections, are prevented from unionizing. This year, we changed the statute to allow these workers to form a Union!
Safer Healthcare Staffing (SB 5236)
Safe staffing standards are the way we can begin to address Washington’s healthcare crisis. We need to reduce the number of healthcare workers leaving their jobs due to burnout and attract new workers to the field. This bill improves staffing standards in our hospitals and strengthens break and overtime provisions for our healthcare members at the Department of Corrections.
Preventing Musculoskeletal Injuries (SB 5217)
Musculoskeletal injuries and repetitive motion injuries are responsible for nearly one-third of all workers’ compensation claims in Washington state. These injuries are often devastating. Thanks to Teamsters working with our labor partners to pass SB5217, these injuries will be significantly reduced with sensible L&I oversight, better training, and other workplace accommodations.
Improving Mental Health Support for Nurses (SB 5454)
Nurses often face barriers to accessing treatment for their own mental healthcare. This year, we passed a new law that gives nurses who have suffered repeated traumatic events in the workplace the ability to access workers’ compensation benefits. The law formally recognizes PTSD experienced by nurses as an occupational disease.
Securing Benefits for Uber & Lyft Drivers (HB 1570)
Together with our Drivers Union affiliate, our Union worked to pass legislation that provides unemployment insurance to rideshare drivers and creates a pilot program that allows drivers to elect Paid Family Medical Leave coverage and receive payments from the rideshare platforms for that purpose.
Protecting Personal Info of Public Sector Workers (HB 1533)
We helped passed legislation that exempts the disclosure of certain information of public employees or their dependents who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, or stalking.
Holding Third-Party Administrators Accountable (HB 1521)
We helped pass HB 1521, which requires third-party administrators in the public sector to comply with the standards of good faith and fair dealing when adjudicating illness and injury claims filed by workers. This should make it easier for public sector workers to receive their benefits, instead of getting the run-around from an employer looking to save money.
Right to Record of Compelled Medical Exams (HB 1068)
HB 1068 ensures that when injured workers are compelled to participate in a medical exam that will determine if they maintain their benefits, they can record the exam and have a third party present. This law provides transparency about what happens in these exams and levels the playing field between workers and employers.
Promoting Manufacturing in Washington (SB 5269)
Creates a statewide industry strategy for manufacturing and funds a staff person at the Department of Commerce to coordinate work with the federal government to fund these projects.
Employer Vehicle Searches (HB 1491)
Prohibiting unjustified employer searches of employee personal vehicles.
This legislative session saw significant gains for workers across the state. In addition to these bills, our Union was instrumental in beating back legislation that would have legalized personal and commercial vehicles for operation on roads without a safety operator; and pausing legislation that would have put Department of Corrections staff at risk by dramatically altering the State policy on the use of solitary confinement.
Finally, this list is not exhaustive. Your team worked in the background on issues in almost every policy committee in the legislature. If you have a question about any of these pieces of legislation, or any other bill in the legislature, please reach out to your Union's Legislative and Political team.
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