On November 3rd Spokane voters have an opportunity to make a huge difference for worker equity and justice in the community. The Worker Bill of Rights – Proposition 1 is asking the people of Spokane the following question:
Shall the Spokane City Charter be amended to add a Worker Bill of Rights, which secures a right to a family wage when employed be a large employer, right to equal pay for equal work, right not to be wrongfully terminated, and elevates Charter rights above rights claimed by corporations?
Here’s the full language of Proposition 1 – Worker Bill of Rights.
SPOKANE WORKER BILL OF RIGHTS-Proposition 1
WHEREAS, the people of the City of Spokane wish to build a healthy, sustainable, economically just, and democratic community; and
WHEREAS, the people of the City of Spokane believe in the rights of workers to receive (1) a decent and fair family wage, (2) equitable pay regardless of personal traits, qualities, or characteristics, and (3) just cause for termination from employment; and
WHEREAS, the people of the City of Spokane believe these rights are superior to competing rights claimed by corporations; and
WHEREAS, the people of the City of Spokane have adopted a Comprehensive Plan for the City of Spokane, which envisions, among other items, income equity, living wages, and sustainable economic strategies, but the people recognize that the Comprehensive Plan is not legally enforceable in many important respects; and
WHEREAS, the people of the City of Spokane wish to create a Worker Bill of Rights, which would, among other goals, establish legally enforceable rights for workers to protect the local economy and build the people’s vision of a healthy, sustainable, economically just, and democratic community.
Section 120. Worker Bill of Rights
A. Worker Bill of Rights
- Right to a Family Wage. Workers in the City of Spokane have a right to a family wage. Workers employed by an employer with one hundred fifty (150) or more full-time equivalent workers shall be paid, at minimum, a family wage for work performed. The employer requirement to pay a family wage shall not apply to workers in a ninety (90) day or less probationary period, in an internship if enrolled in school, or when enrolled in a Washington state certified apprenticeship program.
- Right to Equal Pay. All workers in the City of Spokane have a right to equal pay for equal work. No employer may provide different wage rates or other compensation to workers who are performing jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility because of 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.
- Right Not to be Wrongfully Terminated. Workers in the City of Spokane have a right to be free from wrongful termination. Employers with ten (10) or more full-time equivalent workers shall not terminate a worker except for just cause, unless the worker is in a ninety (90) day or less probationary period, is enrolled in a Washington state certified apprenticeship program, or is expressly hired for a particular project and the project has ended. The term “just cause” shall be interpreted in accordance with established, common law principles of collective bargaining and labor relations, as developed by labor arbitration decisions, and an employer seeking to terminate a worker for just cause must demonstrate:
- Timely and adequate work performance warnings and opportunities to correct work performance, unless the misconduct of the worker is serious enough to warrant immediate termination, such as criminal activity at work;
- A fair, objective, and non-discriminatory termination process, where the worker has an opportunity to be heard in opposition to the termination; and
- The termination is for work performance reasons, unless the employer can demonstrate that a layoff of a worker is necessary for economic hardship.
If a court finds a worker has been wrongfully terminated, the affected worker shall receive compensation in the form of back pay, reinstatement, attorney fees, costs, and damages.
- Corporate Powers Subordinate To People’s Rights. Corporations that violate, or seek to violate, this section shall not be deemed to be “persons” to the extent that such treatment would interfere with the rights enumerated in this section, nor shall corporations possess any other legal rights that would interfere with the rights enumerated by this section, including standing to challenge this section in court, the power to assert state or federal preemptive laws in an attempt to overturn this section, and the power to assert that the people of this municipality lack the authority to adopt this section.
- “Corporation” means any corporation, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, business trust, limited liability company, or other business entity, organized under the laws of any State of the United States or under the laws of any country.
- “Employer” means government and any business having, or required to have, a business license from the City of Spokane. For the purposes of determining the number of employees of a particular employer, a corporation, as defined in Section 2(a), that is doing business at more than one location shall be treated as a single employer, all franchisees and subsidiary corporations shall be treated as a single employer with the franchisor and parent corporation, and employees employed outside of the City of Spokane shall be counted for the purposes of determining the total number of full-time equivalent workers.
- “Family wage” means a wage that provides for basic needs and a limited ability to deal with future emergencies without the need of public assistance. The City of Spokane shall calculate the family wage to include, but not be limited to, basic necessities such as food, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, childcare, clothing and other personal items, emergency savings, and taxes. The City shall calculate the family wage rate based on a household size of two with one person employed and the family wage rate shall not be less than the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Washington State 2014, as adjusted for inflation. The City shall calculate the initial family wage within six months after the effective date of this section, and shall adjust the family wage each January 1st thereafter to reflect the change in the Consumer Price Index for the Spokane Metropolitan Statistical Area. The City may allow deductions from the total family wage by employers who demonstrate one or more basic needs are covered elsewhere in a worker’s compensation package. If the City of Spokane does not calculate a family wage, then eligible employers must provide, at minimum, a wage equal to the higher of either (1) three times the federal poverty guidelines for a family of two, or (2) any family wage rate previously calculated by the City of Spokane.
4. The number of “full-time equivalent workers” equals the total number of hours an employer has paid its workers in a year divided by 2,080.
5. “Worker” means an individual employed on a full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal basis, including independent contractors, contracted workers, contingent workers, and persons made available to work for the employer through the services of a temporary service, staffing, employment agency, or similar entity. The rights in this section extend to all workers who are physically-present in Spokane for any portion of the worker’s employment.
- Any worker, government entity, or nonprofit entity, may bring an action against the worker’s employer for violation of these rights, and is entitled to attorney fees and costs in addition to legal remedies, including back pay, and equitable remedies, including reinstatement. Employers are not entitled to attorney fees and costs under this section.
- Any person may bring an action against the City of Spokane for failure to promulgate rules and policies necessary for enabling and effectuating the Right to a Family Wage, and that person shall be entitled to attorney fees and costs, in addition to equitable remedies. No action shall lie against the City for failure to enforce the rights contained within this section.
Section 2. Effective Date and Implementation of Rights
If approved by the electors, this section shall take effect and be in full force one year from the issuance of the certificate of election by the Spokane County Auditor’s Office, except:
Employers shall be required to fully comply with the requirements of the Family Wage Right two years from the effective date, but shall only be required to pay at least 60% of the required wage on the effective date, and 80% of the required wage one year from the effective date.
Section 3. Repealer, Interpretation, and Severability
All ordinances, resolutions, motions, or orders in conflict with this section are hereby repealed to the extent of such conflict. The people of Spokane intend for this section to be liberally interpreted to effectuate the broad policy goals articulated in the preamble to the charter amendments set forth in Initiative No. 2015-2, and to be self-executing. If any part or provision of these section provisions is held invalid, the remainder of these provisions shall not be affected by such a holding and shall continue in full force and effect.
PDF download of the Worker Bill of Rights: SPOKANE WBOR-2015-Proposition 1