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News / Clark County News

Madore proposes labor moves

Resolutions support right-to-work, public collective bargaining

By Kaitlin Gillespie
Published: March 13, 2015, 12:00am

Clark County Councilor David Madore has introduced two labor union-related resolutions that are already drawing controversy before they’ve been scheduled for a council meeting.

The first would open the county’s collective bargaining agreements to the public, a move that would “champion a more open transparent government to turn the lights on the most secretive process in county government,” Madore wrote on his public Facebook page last week. The resolution would not, however, invite public participation or input at the meetings.

The second would enact a local right-to-work policy that would allow Clark County workers to choose whether they want to join a union.

Madore declined to comment on either resolution.

Madore has only introduced the resolutions during board time, the council’s Wednesday meetings to discuss recent and upcoming business. There is no indication the resolutions will see a vote soon.

The two resolutions, however, have already received attention from local and state groups.

The Freedom Foundation, a conservative group based in Olympia, emailed its members Thursday, urging them contact Clark County’s councilors in support of the resolutions. The organization also provides example resolutions for local governments interested in pursuing the policies.

Scott Roberts, citizen action network director at the Freedom Foundation, would not say whether the organization supported Clark County or Madore in drafting the resolutions, but said the organization’s “doors are open to everything.”

“These are ideas we cherish,” Roberts said. “If they want to move these ideas forward, we’re there to help.”

The Freedom Foundation supported similar propositions last year in the cities of Blaine, Sequim, Shelton and Chelan. All four cities responded to citizen initiatives presented to the council, and ultimately voted the propositions down, Roberts said.

The Freedom Foundation, meanwhile, pursued lawsuits on behalf of people in Sequim, Shelton and Chelan against the decisions, claiming violations against the initiative process, according to legal briefings from the cities and Roberts. The foundation lost in all three cities.

The collective bargaining resolution appeared to be in violation of state law, according to laws cited in a Shelton commission briefing.

According to the Open Public Meetings Act, collective bargaining is exempt from laws opening discussion and debate to the public.

The Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, meanwhile, condemns the resolutions, President Shannon Walker said, adding that the resolutions are “asinine” and “embarrassing.”

“We’re 100 percent against any of this,” Walker said. “We’re disappointed in the way our county councilors are leading our community and we will not be sitting back on it.”

Fuse Washington, a progressive think tank, has also taken note of the resolutions.

“Labor unions help workers negotiate for better pay, better benefits and safe working conditions,” spokesman Collin Jergens said. “This is merely a politically motivated attack on working people.”

Both resolutions are available at www.clark.wa.gov/thegrid.