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Your Guide to Proposition 1, "Worker Bill of Rights"

Inland Northwest Business Alliance’s Public policy committee has recommended to the Board of Directors that INBA remain neutral on Proposition 1, listed on the ballot of Spokane’s upcoming general election November 3rd, regarding the Envision Spokane Worker Bill of Rights.

INBA has drafted the following information for members and the general public’s consideration in lieu of taking a stance on this position, and we strongly encourage the public to review these facts for themselves.

Summary of Proposition 1, Worker Bill of Rights
  • Provision 1: The Envision Spokane “Workers Bill of Rights” Initiative creates a “family wage” for employees in the City of Spokane who work for businesses with 150 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.
    • In other words, the initiative establishes a minimum compensation level for employees of affected businesses.
  • Provision 2:  “Equal Pay for Equal Work” states that all businesses within the City of Spokane may not discriminate in the payment of wages or other compensation based on the “worker’s gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, race, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship, economic class, religion, age or developmental, mental, or physical ability.”
    • Supporters have praised the progressive nature of this provision and the right to equal pay.
    • Criticisms cites research that finds this provision to be ineffective in addressing any current pay gaps, as well as concerns that employees would be prohibited from earning wage increases based on experience or seniority.
  • Provision 3: Right to Not Be Wrongfully Terminated applies to employees of businesses with 10 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, and states that employers may not terminate a worker except for “just cause.”
    • Just cause is generally defined by common law. The provision states that an employer seeking to terminate a worker for just cause must demonstrate that it provided timely and adequate warnings and opportunity to correct performance; and used a fair, objective and non-discriminatory  termination process.
    • Washington is an “at will” state, meaning there are no laws regarding dismissal, so businesses are not currently required to give warnings or follow any particular steps.
  • Provision 4: “Corporate Powers Subordinate to People’s Rights” provides that any corporations that violate or seek to violate  worker’s rights are stripped of their  status as “persons” under the law. Furthermore, corporations would be denied rights that interfere with worker’s rights,including “standing to challenge this section in court…”
    • This provision has raised constitutional concerns, per the City of Spokane Hearing Examiner. Article 12, Section 5 of the Washington State Constitution states, “all corporations shall have the right to sue and shall be subject to be sued, in all courts, in like cases as natural persons.” Initiatives must be consistent with the Constitution (City of Burien v, KIGA).

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