Unfair Labor Practice Guide

PERC is a Washington State agency with jurisdiction over public sector labor relations and collective bargaining.


- Authority (Jurisdiction)

The Commission only has authority over collective bargaining rights for public sector employees in Washington State.   PERC does not have authority over private sector employees or non collective-bargaining issues.  If PERC does not have authority over your complaint, you may contact the following organizations:

  • Private Sector employees
    - National Labor Relations Board at 206.220.6300 or nbrb.gov

  • Discrimination Complaints (except on the basis of union activities as noted below)
    - Human Rights Commission at 800.233.3247 or hum.wa.gov
    - Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 800.669.4000 or eeoc.gov

  • Employment Standards/Workplace Rights
    - Department of Labor and Industries at 866.219.7321 or lni.wa.gov

- Filing a ULP Complaint

There is no cost to file an Unfair Labor Practice complaint with PERC.

Who can file?:

  • Unions may file on behalf of employees they represent or are seeking to represent.
  • Employers may file against a union that represents employees or is seeking to represent it's employees.
  • Individual employees may file alleging "interference", "domination" or "discrimination" violations against either the Employer, Union or both. Individual employees cannot pursue "refusal to bargain" allegations.

On what basis can individual employee complaints be filed?:

  • Interference - To interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their collective bargaining rights.
  • Domination or Assistance - To control, dominate, or interfere with a bargaining representative.
  • Discrimination - To deprive rights, benefits, or status in reprisal for union activities.

    PERC does not remedy violations of collective bargaining agreements through unfair labor practice cases. Contract violations should addressed through the contract's grievance procedure.

    Complete texts of the laws administered by PERC are available on the Statutes page. For rules relating to the filing of a ULP complaint see the Rules page.

How can I file a ULP complaint?
    • Fill out the ULP Form and follow the instructions for filing.
    • Attach a Statement of Facts including numbered paragraphs.
- Time Limit for Filing
A complaint must be filed within 6 months from the date the complainant knew or should have known of the alleged violation.
- After a Case is Filed
The Parties to the case will be notified of the PERC case number assigned. Please use that case number whenever you contact PERC.

The complaint is assigned to our Unfair Labor Practice manager who reviews the filing to determine whether the allegations state a potential violation under PERC's applicable laws.
  • Preliminary Ruling
    - If the allegations in the complaint state a violation under PERC’s applicable laws, a Preliminary Ruling is issued. 
    - The Preliminary Ruling frames the issues for a hearing, and directs the responding party to file an answer within 21 days of the date filed.
    - After a Preliminary Ruling is issued, the case is assigned to a PERC Examiner, who will contact the parties about scheduling a hearing.
  • Deficiency Notice
    - If the complaint fails to state a violation, a Deficiency Notice is sent to the filing party to give them an opportunity to allege additional facts or details to correct the deficiency and state a violation.
    - The filing party is given 21 days to correct the deficiency.  If the filing party does not or cannot correct the deficiency the complaint is dismissed.
- Settlement Without a Hearing

Parties may request a settlement conference for an unfair labor practice complaint.  That settlement conference is assigned to a separate PERC mediator.  See WAC 391-45-260 for more information.

- Hiring an Attorney

PERC will not represent you or provide you with an attorney. PERC staff are strictly neutral and can only answer questions about rules and procedures. PERC staff do not provide legal advice.

You may hire an attorney to represent you or review your complaint, but you are responsible for paying their fees.

You are not required to have an attorney. If you decide not to, it is recommended that you:

  • Study the applicable statute and rules.
  • Review your claims and evidence.
  • Make your own decision about whether to hire an attorney at your own expense.

- What to Expect at a ULP Hearing
A hearing is similar to a trial before a judge. The PERC Examiner acts as an Administrative Law Judge. Parties must provide evidence through testimony of witnesses and exhibits regarding the disputed issues.
- Case Processing Timeline
  • After the case is assigned to a PERC Examiner, an assignment letter is sent to the parties and the Examiner contacts the parties generally within 2 weeks to schedule a hearing.
  • The hearing is scheduled based on the availability of the parties.
  • It generally takes a court reporter 15 – 30 days to prepare a written transcript of the hearing following the close of the hearing, depending on the number of hearing days.
  • The parties generally have 30 days to file closing briefs to Examiner following completion of the written transcript.
  • PERC will typically issue a written decision 90 days after the closing briefs are filed.
- Notification of PERC Decision
After the hearing, PERC will issue a written decision based on the evidence presented at the hearing.  A decision is typically issued 90 days after the closing briefs are filed.  PERC staff cannot provide any information about the content of a decision until it is officially issued.  Once issued, the decision is mailed to the parties on the case and posted on our website under recent decisions.
- Retaliation for Filing

It is illegal for a public employer or union to retaliate against a public employee who files a complaint or gives testimony at a PERC hearing.