Lawmaker wants Washington to become 'right-to-work' state

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The machinists union's overwhelming rejection of a Boeing contract offer is prompting a call for a special session to turn Washington into a "right-to-work" state.

Opponents say it could save a few jobs, but kill the standard of living.

Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, is imploring Gov. Jay Inslee to call a special session to address the idea. Inslee is on his way to China, but his office says the governor doesn't support this idea at all.

Baumgartner said now is the time to join the 24 other right-to-work states and make unions optional.

"I think in light of that vote last night, which didn't just involve the unions and Boeing, it was everybody in this state, we need to step forward, show real leadership and make Washington a right-to-work state," Baumgartner said.

He said he wants to make sure that what happened to the once-strong auto industry in Michigan doesn't happen here. Michigan just became the 24th right-to-work state.

Opponents say Washington's standard of living would crumble if the system changed.

"I appreciate the emotion around the issue, but I think what Sen. Baumgartner wants is a strong economy and as we know 'right to work' takes you in the opposite direction. It lowers wages, then people have less disposable income," said Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater.

The Washington Labor Council points to the South Carolina Boeing 787 plant as being way under-productive.

"Their production goal is three planes per month. They've been able to produce three fourths of one plane per month. And four of the first five 787s they produced had to be shipped here to be repaired and modified," said Labor Council president Jeffery Johnson.

There likely won't be special session for the plan, but Sen. Baumgartner said he will re-introducing the bill sometime soon. He believes it would get a hearing and possible vote in the Republican controlled Senate.

But Democrats say it'll likely die in the House and wouldn't get the governor's signature anyway.