Why are we having another union election?
If having a third union election for L&I interpreters feels a little exhausting, you’re not alone. Without WFSE’s involvement, we could have certified our union long ago.
Remember, WA INTERPRETERS filed the original union petition with the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) in November 2020. WFSE later intervened in the petition and was added to the process.
WFSE then tried to get the petition dismissed entirely, which would have left us without any union at all. When that failed, WFSE delayed the initial election for months by filing a frivolous unfair labor practice complaint they eventually lost and didn’t bother to appeal.
And once we finally had the initial and runoff elections last year, WFSE used “deceptive campaign practices” that were so significant that PERC ruled the election results had to be thrown out and a third election conducted.
WFSE’s “deceptive campaign practices”
First, PERC determined that WFSE “explicitly misrepresented” the election process to deceive interpreters into signing a WFSE petition, which it then used to falsely claim hundreds of interpreters had pledged to vote for them (a lie WFSE continues to repeat).
And second, you may recall that WFSE attacked us for not agreeing to waive the runoff election in August and blamed us for not having a chance to certify a union and negotiate a first collective bargaining agreement with the state before the October 1 deadline.
But PERC ruled—as we had pointed out all along—that because neither union received votes from a majority of eligible voters in the first election, PERC was legally obligated to conduct the runoff election. Consequently, PERC determined that WFSE’s “campaign statements that WA INTERPRETERS could withdraw and the implication that automatic certification of Interpreters United (WFSE) would occur was a deceptive campaign practice…”
We deserve a union that fights FOR us, not one that LIES to us!
WA INTERPRETERS is the only choice on the ballot everyone agrees is eligible to represent L&I interpreters.
As we’ve pointed out before, there’s a strong case to make that WFSE isn’t even legally eligible to be certified as the union for L&I interpreters.
Under state law, an organization can’t be certified to represent L&I interpreters unless one of its primary purposes is representing employees. But according to its bylaws, WFSE’s membership consists of local unions, not workers themselves.
One of WFSE’s member unions is Interpreters United, but its constitution restricts membership to DSHS interpreters and makes no provision for L&I interpreters to be members.
While we challenged WFSE’s eligibility after the runoff election, state courts said they wouldn’t address the issue until after PERC’s third election. Hypothetically, if WFSE wins the election and is later disqualified, we’d likely need a FOURTH union election to certify WA INTERPRETERS.
Importantly, this isn’t a problem for WA INTERPRETERS. Our bylaws specifically state that our purpose is to “promote and protect the interests of language access providers, interpreters and/or translators in the State of Washington.” Both L&I and WFSE have already agreed that WA INTERPRETERS qualifies as legal bargaining representative.
Thankfully, more and more interpreters are realizing that WFSE doesn’t really care about them and that WA INTERPRETERS is really the only choice. We’ve been blown away by the outpouring of support we’ve been receiving. By uniting together under WA INTERPRETERS, we can collectively chart a better course for ourselves and our industry without interference.
Thanks for your continued support, contact us if you have any questions, and stay tuned for more updates coming soon!