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Urge to dump unions in Washington?

If you like your union, should you keep it?

That is the question teachers in Waterville asked last year. They discovered that they liked having a union, just not the one they had, the massive Washington Education Association.

So, they got rid of it, but it was not easy.

Talking with the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation, David Boze has discovered that smaller, local unions work better than large ones, but that the laws in Washington are set up to inhibit workers from forming their own local unions.

Freedom Foundation labor policy analyst Maxford Nelson told Boze that, after one year, the Waterville teachers are reporting positive results from their switch. The best part, they are paying much smaller dues, and that money is not being funneled toward dark political causes.

“Sometimes you get a raise when you boot [unions] out,” Boze said.

The downside, Nelson told Boze, is that state law makes it hard for workers to dump their union. They can only perform such a maneuver during a 30-day window between contracts, which only come up every three to four years.

Nelson found 44 jurisdictions filed decertification paperwork over the last few years, some of which were rejected on technical grounds. But the votes within the unions to make such a move showed a willingness to dump big unions.

“So, if people get a chance, they dump their union, but the system is designed to give them as few chances as possible,” Boze summarized.

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