Halfway through the legislative session, the state Senate has passed a wide array of legislation to help working families by raising workplace standards and expanding collective bargaining rights.
“The bills we have passed will go a long way toward making Washington a better place to work,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), the chair of the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee. “We’ve taken on gender bias, restrictions on bargaining, and worker safety. And we’re not done yet.”
Of the 50 bills that moved out of the Labor & Commerce Committee, the Senate has passed 27, many with significant bipartisan support. A few highlights include:
- SB 6034 would extend the statute of limitations for filing a pregnancy discrimination complaint from six months to one year.
- SB 5473 would study exceptions to current unemployment insurance law to allow workers who become unemployed due to family caregiving responsibilities to collect benefits. The benefits might also be allowed for workers whose job duties increase substantially, or whose working conditions change significantly, with no increase in pay.
- SB 6096 would require the state to consider the potential for labor law violations when contracting with social service providers to ensure state contractors adhere to fair workplace standards.
- SB 6122 would extend workplace safety protections to temporary workers in construction, manufacturing and industrial engineering, who face a high risk of injury and death.
- SB 6440 would reduce the burden placed upon injured workers subjected to independent medical examinations in workers compensation cases. It would require the exams to occur in a location convenient to the injured worker, eliminate no-show fees if a worker gives at least five days’ notice, and establish a work group to improve the exam process.
- SB 6473 would restrict the use of asbestos in construction, improve labeling requirements, and require safer management of known installations of asbestos.
- SB 6170 would modernize the plumbing code for the first time in 45 years, make apprenticeships more accessible, and protect consumers by making certification more transparent.
- SB 5236 would increase apprenticeship programs in public education and in the health care industry.
- SB 6217 would give SeaTac port commissioners the authority to close a loophole exploited by business to pay workers less than the local minimum wage.
- SB 6261 would strengthen our agricultural sector by holding farm labor contractors accountable for their recruiting practices.