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AGLO 1970 No. 068 - April 29, 1970
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

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                                                                   April 29, 1970
Honorable L. Edward Brown
Prosecuting Attorney
Grays Harbor County
417 Finch Building
Aberdeen, Washington 98520
                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1970 No. 68
Dear Sir:
            We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated April 22, 1970, requesting our opinion on several questions pertaining to the contents of a labor agreement between your board of county commissioners and certain elected county officials and a labor union representing various county employees.
            Question (1):
            Your first question pertains to the legal authority of a county to enter into a collective bargaining agreement covering employees of the county where such an agreement would contain a "union shop" type clause.
            In our opinion, a county has the authority to enter into such an agreement with respect to noncivil service county employees.  Accord, AGO 57-58 No. 228 (to the prosecuting attorney of Kittitas county) and opinion dated December 9, 1968 (to the prosecuting attorney of King county), copies enclosed.
            Question (2):
            Next, you have asked whether such an agreement as is described in your first question is binding upon those county employees whose appointing authority is not a party to the agreement.
            This question, in our opinion, is answerable in the negative as set forth in our opinion dated March 6, 1967, to the prosecuting attorney of Kitsap county, copy enclosed.  In this opinion we characterized the authority to enter into a collective bargaining agreement as being an  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] incident of the power of employment of the various county elected officials who employ the persons affected by the contract.  From this it follows that the contract can only be binding upon those employees of a county who are subject to appointment or employment by those county officers who have signed the agreement in question.
            Question (3):
            Your third question inquires as to the legality of a provision in a collective bargaining agreement requiring the county to withhold union dues and pay the same over to the union without the express consent of each county employee covered by the agreement.
            Such a provision, in our opinion, would be contrary to the provisions of § 11, chapter 108, Laws of 1967, Ex. Sess. (RCW 41.56.110), which reads as follows:
            "A collective bargaining agreement may provide that upon the written authorization of any public employee within the bargaining unit, the public employer shall deduct from the pay of such public employee the monthly amount of dues as certified by the secretary of the exclusive bargaining representative and shall transmit the same to the treasurer of the exclusive bargaining representative."  (Emphasis supplied.)
            In our opinion of December 9, 1968, copy enclosed, we characterized this provision as negating the use of an automatic check-off system for the payment of union dues.
            Question (4):
            Your concluding question assumes a negative answer to question (1), supra ‑ which, instead, we answered in the affirmative.  Accordingly, we refrain from passing upon your final question.
            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General
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