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Public Sector Labor Relations: Washington

Public Sector Labor Relations requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Susan Borowski, Reliable Writing Services


  • Washington public sector labor relations are governed by the Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act. The Public Employment Relations Commission regulates labor-management relations between employers and employees in the public sector. See Public Sector Employees.
  • Employees have the right to organize and select representatives. Organizing is done by secret ballot election. See Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively.
  • Employers and employees have a duty to bargain. After an agreement terminates, the provisions of the old agreement remain in effect for up to one year. See Duty to Bargain.
  • Public employees that have religious objections to joining a union may pay a fee to a charitable organization instead of to the union. See Membership and Dues.
  • The statute lists conduct that constitutes specific unfair labor practices for both employers and union representatives. See Unfair Labor Practices.
  • Public employees do not have the right to strike. See No Right to Strike.
  • There are specific provisions for arbitration should mediation fail to bridge an impasse in negotiations. See Mediation and Arbitration.
  • There are provisions specific to uniformed personnel, such as police and fire employees. See Uniformed Personnel.
  • There are provisions specific to other employee groups such as public transportation and utility employees. See Other Employee Groups.