Friday, February 03, 2006

See ya scab

State workers fired for refusing to pay union dues

Cathy Munson's last day on the job after 18 years with the state Department of Agriculture in Grandview is Saturday. This would be unremarkable except that Munson, 56, isn't retiring. She's been fired.

That might not be noteworthy either except the day after she was pink-slipped, Munson received her yearly performance evaluation, and it was glowing.

The state is firing Munson because she refuses to pay union dues or alternative fees as required under a labor agreement between the state and the 40,000-member Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE).

Effective in July, the contract contains a "union security clause," which allows the union to collect dues or fees from employees who become members, as well as those who do not. The phrase often used to describe such situations is "closed shop."

Munson objects to the union security clause because she says it was ratified by a small minority of die-hard union members, leaving large numbers of the rank-and-file in the dark.

She also doesn't think the contract was an arm's-length agreement since it was negotiated by the Democratic administration of former Gov. Gary Locke with an important base of his supporters, Democratic union members.

"At some point I just decided I had to say, 'That's enough.' Otherwise, I'm worthless," Munson said in a recent interview.


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