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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

WA workers won't be punished for skipping 'captive audience' meetings

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Thursday, April 18, 2024   

Washington joins a handful of states to do away with mandatory meetings for employees on political or religious matters.

Sometimes known as captive audience meetings, the gatherings were seen as a way for employers to give their opinions on subjects like unionization, and held potential consequences for employees who didn't attend. Lawmakers passed a bill this session allowing workers to skip the meetings without repercussions.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, a sponsor of the bill, said we live in a divided society where emotions run high on political topics.

"This bill simply protects employees to have a real choice on whether or not to attend a meeting called by their boss to be told about some political or religious issue," Keiser explained.

Keiser pointed out the legislation is nonpartisan. For instance, employers could not force employees to attend anti-union meetings, but also could not force them to attend a meeting about the importance of reproductive rights. The bill takes effect June 6.

Keiser noted the bill likely got across the finish line this session because of the uptick in union organizing and support for labor. She added there are widely known stories of Starbucks managers, for example, requiring employees to attend anti-union meetings while the employees organized the workplace.

"Employees have been forced to attend meetings to listen to the boss or the employer basically tell them why they shouldn't join a union," Keiser observed.

Washington is the sixth state to pass a law prohibiting attendance at captive audience meetings. Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota and New York have passed similar laws in recent years. Oregon passed a law allowing workers to skip such meetings without repercussions in 2010.


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