Southwest Washington had some of the state’s most anti-labor legislators — and some of its most pro-labor — according to the 2015 Legislative Report of the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC), released Aug. 5.
While Democrats in West Vancouver and Longview had mostly solid pro-labor voting records, Republicans east of I-205 and north to Centralia were among the most anti-union in the state, and one — Centralia Republican John Braun, is the only Washington senator with a lifetime 0 percent record.
Lawmakers in both chambers were given a percentage rating based on their votes on 10 bills. Some were also singled out for special mention—positive or negative–in the eight-page report.
In the House, four Southwest Washington Democrats had 100 percent ratings this year: Sharon Wylie and Jim Moeller of District 49 (Vancouver West of I-205), and Dean Takko and Brian Blake of District 19 (Longview, Kelso to the coast). Moeller is a member of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Local 5017 and works as a mental health specialist at Kaiser Permanente.
WSLC also praised Wylie, Moeller and Takko for co-sponsoring a bill to set safe nurse staffing levels, and Wylie and Moeller for co-sponsoring a bill to protect workers from retaliation for reporting wage theft. Southwest Washington House Republicans, on the other hand, all had ratings of 10 percent, except Ed Orcutt of District 20 (Woodland to Centralia east of I-5), who had 0 percent.
In the Senate, District 49 Democrat Annette Cleveland had a 90 percent rating, and District 19 Democrat Brian Hatfield had a 70 percent rating. Republican Ann Rivers of District 18 (Camas, Washougal, Battle Ground, La Center) had a 10 percent rating, while Republican Don Benton of District 17 (Vancouver East of I-205) and Republican John Braun of District 20 (Woodland to Centralia east of I-5) had 0 percent ratings. Benton, at least, got a favorable mention for co-sponsoring the nurse staffing bill, which didn’t make it to a vote. He was also credited by WSLC president Jeff Johnson as one of five Republicans who helped stop a collective bargaining bill sponsored by Braun from being rolled into a state budget bill. The bill would have opened labor contract negotiations to the public and reduced the use of binding interest arbitration.
Braun was one of Washington’s most anti-labor lawmakers this year. He sponsored bills to create a “good-faith” defense for employers that fail to pay minimum wage or overtime; relax the class-size requirements of voter-approved Initiative 1351; deregulate the electrical industry by decreasing training, electrical certification, licensing, permitting and inspections; exempt certain cities from state prevailing wage standards; bar local minimum wage or sick leave ordinances from creating exceptions for unionized workers; and expand a program of lump sum workers comp payments that end up reducing payouts to injured workers. He also co-sponsored a bill to privatize the state workers’ compensation system. None of those bills passed.
See the full report here.