Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Labor & Workplace Standards Committee

HB 2017

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Concerning collective bargaining for administrative law judges.

Sponsors: Representatives Frame, Dolan, Fitzgibbon, Stanford, Kilduff, Macri, Ryu, Valdez, Tarleton and Pollet.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Grants administrative law judges collective bargaining rights under the Personnel System Reform Act.

Hearing Date: 2/18/19

Staff: Trudes Tango (786-7384).


The Personnel System Reform Act.

With certain exceptions, state employees covered by the state civil service laws have collective bargaining under the Personnel System Reform Act (PSRA) for wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. Under the PSRA, state agencies are generally represented by the Governor for purposes of negotiations.

The PSRA provides for multi-employer bargaining and coalition bargaining. Exclusive bargaining representatives of more than one bargaining unit must negotiate one master collective bargaining agreement covering all of the represented employees. Exclusive bargaining representatives that represent fewer than 500 employees each must bargain in a coalition, with one master agreement covering all of the employees represented by the coalition.

Administrative Law Judges.

The administrative appeals process provides an avenue for people and businesses to dispute agency decisions. The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) conducts administrative hearings on behalf of certain state agencies and some local governments. Its largest caseloads relate to unemployment benefits for the Employment Security Department, child support decisions for the Department of Social and Health Services, and Medicaid appeals for the Health Care Authority.

The OAH is under the direction of a Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), appointed by the Governor with consent of the Senate. The Chief appoints ALJs, who usually specialize in certain areas of practice, and may contract with individuals to serve as an ALJ for specified hearings.

There are approximately 112 ALJs. The ALJs are not subject to the state civil service laws; therefore, the PSRA does not apply to ALJs.

Summary of Bill:

Certain ALJs are granted collective bargaining rights under the PSRA. The ALJs in supervisory positions, AJLs serving on a contractual basis, confidential employees, and any ALJ who reports directly to the Chief ALJ are excluded.

The only unit appropriate for the purposes of collective bargaining is a statewide unit of all AJLs who are not otherwise excluded from bargaining.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Requested on February 14, 2019.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.