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The Unionization Process: Washington

The Unionization Process requirements for other states

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

Author: Bruce Cross, Perkins Coie LLP


Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

For most private sector employers in Washington, labor union organizing and labor relations generally is governed exclusively by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). However, for smaller employers that are not subject to NLRA jurisdiction, state law applies. Washington has a statute guaranteeing employees the right to engage in union activities, but there is no law requiring private sector employers to recognize or bargain with a union. Employers, however, are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees for their union activities.

No Right to Work

Washington is not a "right to work" state. States can decide for themselves whether they want to be a "right to work" state. Generally speaking, a right to work state is one where an employee cannot be denied the right to work because of union membership or non-membership. In non-right to work states, such as Washington, "union shop" agreements are permissible. A union shop agreement is an agreement between an employer and a union that requires, as a condition of employment, that covered employees pay mandatory union dues starting no earlier than 30 days after beginning employment.

Future Developments

There are no developments to report at this time. Continue to check XpertHR regularly for the latest information on this and other topics.

Additional Resources

Labor Rights and Enforcement: Federal

The Unionization Process: Federal

'Right to Work' States