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About Labor Relations

Labor Relations’ vision is to advance the priorities of a high performance government and its competitive workforce through positive labor relations.

Better Contracts, Better Public Service

The State Human Resources/Labor Relations Section manages the collective bargaining process on behalf of the Governor with union-represented state employees. Our mission is to negotiate labor agreements that enable state managers and employees to perform their jobs more effectively. The State Human Resources/Labor Relations Section is under the administrative arm of the Office of Financial Management. This allows for close coordination with all aspects of budget development, revenue forecasting and public compensation and benefit systems, which are all important resources to the collective bargaining process.

Past Restrictions are Today's Opportunities

Historically, union-represented state employees bargained with their employing agencies in more than 100 bargaining units across state government.

Under the Personnel System Reform Act of 2002, the state, not individual agencies, negotiates master agreements with employee labor unions. A master agreement applies to all agencies with employees who are in bargaining units represented by the same union. The governing board of each higher education institution may negotiate its own contract, or may choose to have the Governor's Office or designee (State Human Resources/Labor Relations Section) conduct negotiations on its behalf.

Washington’s union-represented state employees now enjoy the same collective bargaining rights realized by other public employees in this state.

During labor negotiations, the focus is on issues that matter to all employees—wages, health benefit costs, methods for resolving disputes, and on creating a better environment in which to manage the state’s human resources.