Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 2006 NO. 3 >

1. State and local public employees, including teachers, have no legally protected right to strike. 2. State statute establishes no specific penalties for unlawful public employee strikes; in some cases, courts may grant injunctive relief to prevent or end unlawful strikes. 3. The Legislature could enact laws establishing penalties for unlawful public employee strikes, provided that such laws are consistent with protected free speech and other state and federal constitutional rights.

AGO 2014 NO. 5 >


RCW 41.80.040(5) prohibits the State, as an
employer, from engaging in collective bargaining regarding supplemental
retirement benefits for state employees independent of state-controlled
retirement plans.  It also prohibits engaging in collective bargaining
regarding retiree health and welfare benefits.

AGO 2006 NO. 5 >

An “independent professional educators’ association” which defines itself as not engaging in bargaining on behalf of educational employees concerning wages, hours, or terms and conditions of employment is not an “employee organization” as set forth in RCW 41.59.020(1).

AGO 2003 NO. 5 >

Laws of 2002, ch. 356 imposes a duty on public four-year education institutions in Washington to engage in collective bargaining with bargaining representatives of faculty employees, notwithstanding the governor’s veto of portions of the legislation.

AGO 1994 NO. 11 >

1.  The Legislature has authorized, but has not required, that the payments to be made to the Health Care Authority under RCW 28A.400.400 to reduce health insurance premiums for retired school employees be made from certain funds appropriated in the budget for insurance benefits for current school employees.  2.  Money paid to the Health Care Authority for health care benefits for retired school employees should be disregarded in calculating the amounts paid by a school district for salary and benefits for current employees for purposes of applying the compensation limitations established pursuant to RCW 28A.400.200.  3.  A school district has discretion to make the payments to the Health Care Authority required by RCW 28A.400.400 out of the appropriation for employee insurance benefits, or out of other funds; therefore, the exercise of that discretion affects the wages and working conditions of current employees and is a lawful subject for collective bargaining between the employees and the district.

AGO 2006 NO. 14 >

1. State employees may exercise their right of nonassociation with a labor union under RCW 41.80.100(2) based upon strongly held private religious objections to union membership, even if the objections are not based on the teachings of an established church or religious body. If there is a dispute between an employee and a union concerning the exercise of the right of nonassociation under RCW 41.80.100(2), the matter is resolved by the Public Employment Relations Commission. 3.State employees are not required to use a payroll deduction system to pay the union fees and dues set forth in RCW 41.80.100, but they may pay separately by personal check or other method so long as they make timely payments in the correct amount.

AGO 1994 NO. 16 >

1. The faculty at four-year state-supported higher education institutions do not have a right under current law to engage in collective bargaining with their employers. 2.  At their discretion, the governing bodies of four-year state-supported higher education institutions may enter into bargaining with representatives of the faculty concerning wages, hours, and working conditions, but such bargaining does not establish the terms of employment for nonrepresented faculty members.

AGO 1975 NO. 20 >

(1) Because the governor's veto of § 2 of Substitute Senate Bill No. 2408 (chapter 296, Laws of 1975, 1st Ex. Sess.), the public agencies now responsible for the performance of the functions thereby proposed by this act to be transferred to a new "public employment relations commission" will continue to perform those functions after September 8, 1975, in the absence of further legislative action.  (2) In view of the governor's veto of § 4 of Substitute Senate Bill No. 2500 (chapter 288, Laws of 1975, 1st Ex.Sess.), certificated school district employees will, in the absence of further legislative action, continue after January 1, 1976, to be governed by the provisions of the school employees' professional negotiations act (chapter 28A.72 RCW), notwithstanding the express repeal thereof by the 1975 act, except to the extent that such provisions of the new law as are unaffected by the veto are in conflict with the earlier law.  (3) Administration of the provisions of chapter 288, Laws of 1975, 1st Ex. Sess., and chapter 296, Laws of 1975, 1st Ex. Sess., following their respective effective dates, by a new state agency will be unnecessary unless the governor's vetoes of portions thereof are overridden by the legislature or the vetoed sections are reenacted in a different form.

AGLO 1981 NO. 25 >

The provisions of chapter 344, Laws of 1981, do not violate the requirements of 49 U.S.C. § 1609(C) or of "§ 13(C) agreements" signed in compliance therewith by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

AGLO 1973 NO. 38 >

A public utility district under RCW 54.04.170 and 54.04.180 may engage in collective bargaining with its employees in regard to the manner in which any reduction in the district's work force is to be accomplished, but may only agree to procedures which are consistent with its statutory authority and governing constitutional limitations.