The Washington State Senate is considering legislation that would a provide a practical and efficient way to protect the rights of employees who have private religious objections to labor union membership. On Monday, February, 2, 2015, the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor took public testimony on Senate Bill 5552 (Padden, Baumgartner, Braun, Honeyford, and Angel).
SB 5552 would change the standard for religious non-association to a “bona fide personally held religious belief” and would allow employees to provide payment to any charity participating in the Washington State Combined Fund Drive, or to even more charities for certain public employees.
In practical terms, the bill would make it easier for the employee and union to agree upon a charity, and take the union out of the position of evaluating the theology of the employee.
Hamilton indicated that the Washington Combined Fund Drive would make it easier to track and collect the alternative charitable dues in a reliable and routine way.
Regent University School of Law Professor Bruce N. Cameron submitted a memorandum in support of the bill which would eliminate conflicts between the existing Washington law and the U.S. Constitution, arguing that the state law must protect the personal religious beliefs of employees who religious beliefs are in conflict with the support of labor unions, and that such accommodations must clear all conflicts with conscience, eliminate references to church doctrine, and that the Combined Fund Drive would be the most practical way to address these concerns.
Washington State Senate Bill 5552 can be tracked here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/CMD/document.aspx?agency=7&year=2015&cid=17544&lid=5552
Washington State House Bill 1968 can be tracked here: