December 29, 2008

Lawsuit over negotiated pay raises discussesd on Dave Ross today.

WFSE/AFSCME spokesman, Tim Welch, joined the Dave Ross Show today on KIRO710 to talk about the lawsuit.

Tim Welch explained, "the point of the lawsuit is - a win would be - that a request goes to the legislature and the legislature has a free and fair debate over funding or not, no obligation on the legislature, they can vote it up or down. If they vote it down, we just go back to negotiations.

"We are very realistic and we realize we may not come out of here with the 2% that we negotiated, but we really believe that there's honest disagreement among friends here and we really want to get the issue to the legislature.

"We have the highest regard for the Governor. We could just spend time in campaign mode and throw grenades at her and call her names, but we just decided to have someone outside our group decide it and that's why we're asking the courts to decide."

Dave Ross asked, "You want this debated by the legislature? What would the nature of the debate be? There's only a certain amount of of money in the pot and actually the budget she proposes assumes about a billion dollars in federal stimulus money - a tremendous amount of money. What's the debate?"

"It's the principle. We have an obligation under the law to defend the law and bargaining.

"They were at the table - they agreed to the contract and to us that implied that they were going to make the request - not say you have to fund it - but make the request and get it to the legislature so the legislature can debate it back and forth.

"I think when we get to the March revenue forecast, it's probably going to be a very sobering event. And part of the promise of collective bargaining - and a lot of the support of the sponsors at the time - was not only that we get something out of it but that we have an obligation to give as well. And we want to have a forum where we can bring ideas to save money as well."

Dave Ross asked, "I thought that was a part of the Priorities of Government process - that you were consulted and that if you have any ideas for saving money, that would be included in the budget."

"We weren't consulted, because we don't have a formal way, a seat at the table in the Priorities of Government process. Our formal seat is at the bargaining table."

Listen to the full interview and listener questions here.

December 23, 2008

WFSE/AFSCME sues governor over negotiated pay raises

The Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME today sued Gov. Chris Gregoire for not including a funding request in her budget proposal for the pay raises negotiated between the union and her office.

The lawsuit charges the governor, her budget director, Victor Moore, and the state with breach of contract and committing an unfair labor practice for bad-faith bargaining.

The lawsuit asks Thurston County Superior Court to compel the governor to submit a request to the Legislature to fund the pay raises and other economic parts of the five contracts negotiated by the Federation. The pacts cover 30,000 General Government workers and 10,000 employees at 12 community colleges and all four-year universities and The Evergreen State College.

The Legislature would still have the final say about funding the economic parts of the contract or rejecting them. Rejection sends the contracts back to the bargaining table.

The governor in her Dec. 18 budget roll out invoked a clause in the 2002 collective bargaining law and omitted funding for the negotiated pay raises and other economics. She said her Office of Financial Management had not certified the contracts as financially feasible.

(She did include funding for the negotiated health insurance package with premium shares staying at 12 percent.)

All of the Federation contracts were ratified by members and submitted to OFM by the Oct. 1 deadline set in law.

“Both parties agreed to the terms of that agreement, with the express or implied understanding that by this agreement, the director of OFM was committing to certify that the contractual commitments were financially feasible for the state…,” the lawsuit says.

“By the late summer of 2008, the defendants were well aware of and in fact had discussions with WFSE representatives about the downturn in the economy and the worsening economic conditions. These were reasons the financial aspects of the 2009-2011 (contracts)…were the lowest ever negotiated by the parties.”

Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, joined the lawsuit to challenge the idea that the financial feasibility clause in the 2002 law prohibits the 2009 Legislature from approving legislation funding the Federation’s contracts. “One Legislature (the 2002 Legislature) cannot enact a statute that prevents a future Legislature (the 2009 Legislature) from exercising its law-making power,” the lawsuit says.


For some reason, the governor did not reveal she wants to close Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women in Medical Lake where members of Local 782 work.

It only became apparent late last week after internal memos went out to staff that Gov. Gregoire wants to close Pine Lodge and shift the inmates to Larch Mountain north of Vancouver.

Why the secrecy over Pine Lodge? Who knows.

We do know that Pine Lodge on Dec. 10 passed its latest accreditation audit with flying colors. It scored 100 percent on mandatory standards from the American Correctional Association.

Here’s what state prisons director Dick Morgan said just 11 days ago: “This accreditation score is a significant accomplishment for Pine Lodge. ACA accreditation is the gold standard for management of prisons and demonstrates to the community that Pine Lodge is a safe and well-run facility.”

So, put saving Pine Lodge at the top of our budget priority call to action list, along with the governor’s proposed closure of Naselle Youth Camp and Yakima Valley School.

It’s never too early to mobilize. Call your legislators and the governor at 1-800-562-6000 and tell them to save Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women. As we get past the holidays and into the days before the start of the legislative session Jan. 12, we will have many more calls to action.

December 18, 2008


UPDATED 12:30 PM (see below)

This is special update of the Federation Hotline at about 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18.

The governor’s proposed operating budget unveiled this morning (Dec. 18) is brutal on state employees and the services they provide.

In these tough fiscal times, everything was supposed to be on the table—including possible revenue increases and cutting some of the state’s $54 billion in tax loopholes and tax breaks.

So we’ll start with the call to action before the grim details:

Call your legislators at 1-800-562-6000 and urge them to find sensible solutions to the budget deficit that put everything on the table, not just on the backs of state employees and the services we provide. That means revenue increases and closing some of the state’s $54 billion in tax loopholes.

We’ll have an online call to action along those lines later today.

While the governor’s budget is grim, you must keep it in perspective. The Legislature usually ignores what the governor submits. So our focus has to be on the Legislature to step up and lead the way for sensible solutions to the deficit. The Legislature convenes Jan. 12.

On the governor’s proposal here’s what we know:
  • The governor would invoke a little-known clause in the collective bargaining law allowing her to suspend negotiated pay raises if her budget office is unable to certify that there are funds to pay for them. That is what she has done. That means it will be back to the bargaining table to re-negotiate. She does propose honoring the negotiated funding of your health benefits—with the 12 percent premium share intact.

  • She proposes cutting contributions into the retirement system—a cut of 46.8 percent. Her budget documents aren’t clear on how that would come about, but it’s a significant cut.

  • She proposes cutting 4,000 state jobs. How many are vacancies and how many would mean actual people losing a job is not clear in her budget plan.

  • She proposes a number of closures:

  • Closure of Naselle Youth Camp, a juvenile rehabilitation facility with about 110 youthful offenders.

  • Closure of Yakima Valley School, a facility in Selah for about 100 developmentally disabled residents.

  • Closure of 13 state parks to be determined by the State Parks Commission in addition to winter closures at many parks.

  • The governor said she would close seven fish hatcheries, but her budget documents only specify two proposed closures: Bellingham and Palmer Ponds.

  • In Community Corrections, elimination of supervision of misdemeanants, discontinuation of community supervision for low-risk offenders (except for sex offenders and violent offenders) and setting of community custody sentence lengths at 12 months.

  • The governor also would eliminate grants to individuals in the General Assistance-Unemployable program.
Our determination to fight for sensible solutions in the Legislature instead of the governor’s plan is being conveyed to administration and legislative leaders and the media.

“Our biggest concern is that everything should be on the table and that includes tax loopholes and revenue enhancements,” Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux said. “If the economic parts of our negotiated contracts that were ratified two months ago can be suspended, why can’t a campaign pledge on no revenue increases be retracted?”

Devereux said the impact of 4,000 state employee layoffs will be worse for the economy and set off a “downward spiral.” Contrast that with revenue enhancements spread across 5 million Washington citizens.

“We can’t cut our way out of this deficit,” he said.

The 567 tax loopholes and tax breaks totaling $54 billion should be scrutinized and some repealed to save jobs and services, Devereux said.

Some 147 of those were enacted just since 2001, he said.

“It always falls on state employees (to balance the budget),” Devereux said. “Why can’t some exemptions be rolled back?”

That’s it for now. If other details come in, we will update this hotline.

Now the focus turns to the Legislature, where the real budget decisions will be made.

Watch the Governor's Press Conference

December 16, 2008


Members at the Department of Ecology didn't think hundreds of thousands of dollars being paid out to mid-level managers made sense in a time of growing budget deficits.

So they filed a public disclosure request on the salaries, bonuses and other special pay given to Washington Management Service managers in their agency from 1999 to 2007.

The data proved their hunch was right.

In the eight years between 1999 and 2007, line-level staff received pay raises totaling 27.8 percent, while the total for Washington Management Service employees was 41.9 percent. With compounding, that's about a 15 percent differential between management and non-management staff.

The special management pay comes from "growth and development" raises and bonuses, none of which are available to line-level workers. Any pay increases for line-level workers come from what they negotiate with the state through their contract.

Throughout the agency the amount spent on (growth and development pay) for managers was $492,496 last January. Cash bonuses were also awarded in the amount of $39,346 to specific individuals while the economy was tanking.

"We believe these management bonuses should be eliminated," said Greg Devereux, executive director of the Washington Federation of State Employees. "It's a way to find revenue in these tough times to preserve quality services in Ecology and other agencies."

The Ecology WMS Salary Report (Ecology BU Bulletin 12/2008) appears below and on

The union will initiate similar analyses in other agencies as a way to trim the budget while minimizing the need for layoffs and other cuts in public services.

The Washington Management Service was created in 1993 as a separate personnel system within the executive branch of state government. But it grew from about 445 when it started to a high of about 5,300 in 2005. After a cut of 1,000 management positions ordered by Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2005, it's believed WMS now stands at about 4,000 positions.

There have been several unsuccessful legislative attempts in recent years to trim the size of the Washington Management Service.

WFSE Ecology Bargaining Unit Bulletin - December 2008
Salary Comparison
– Some employees are “more equal” than others

Have you wondered how compensation works for the managers in the Washington Management Service (WMS) in the agency? Union activists and stewards in the bargaining unit wondered too, considering how hard we’ve had to fight for cost of living increases (COLAs).

After making requests for WMS salary information WFSE filed a public disclosure request (PDR) on our behalf to find out about the compensation, including bonuses, paid to Ecology’s WMS managers over the eight year period from 1999 through 2007. The PDR was filed to answer two questions:

1. What was the total compensation of WMS managers including salary raises (also termed growth and development or G&D), COLAS, and bonuses (recognition payments or lump sum awards); and

2. How did increases in WMS compensation compare with salary increases for Ecology staff?

Compensation for Managers

Types of monetary compensation given to WMS managers fall into three categories. G&D increases are awarded based on performance. COLAs are granted by the legislature and by contrast are given to non-union employees across the board. Finally, bonuses, or lump sum payments, are also granted based on performance considerations.

The information provided was disturbing not only in regard to bonuses paid, but also to the salary increases given to managers.

As can be seen from Table 1 Ecology managers did very well from 1999 through 2007. Managers received no salary increases or bonuses in 2003, but received increasingly larger compensation awards in other years over time. The added compounding effect of yearly raises effectively increased the average salary over the eight years by 46.2%.

The average arithmetic G&D increase for WMS during that period was 3.04% giving an average total increase of 24.2%. With compounding over eight years taken into account, the net increase in growth and development compensation from 1999 to 2007 was 27.1%.

The average legislative COLA over the same period, also given to WMS managers, was 17.7%. With compounding over six years (no COLAs were given in 2001 and 2002) the net increase in compensation from just COLAs was 19.1%. The actual compensation between 1999 and 2007, therefore, increased by 46.2%.

Bonuses or lump sum rewards (not included in Table 1) became common starting in 2003, however bonuses are not given to every manager in any given year. The average bonus paid out to WMS managers during 2004 through 2007 was $1,521. Based on a salary of $80,000/year a $1500 bonus would add approximately 1.5% to 2% to the total compensation for the year.

[Refer to SLIDE 16 above]

Compensation for Classified Staff

Ecology staff salaries have, on average, not kept up with WMS salaries. The breakdown of Ecology staff salary increases including, COLAs, and, where applicable, catch-up pay, the L-step increase and the 2007 health care rebate for mid-range (3-level) staff is shown in Table 2 below.

[Refer to SLIDE 21 above]

The average arithmetic mean salary increase for Ecology staff is 27.8%. The actual increase with compounding over six years is 31.2%.

The fact that salaries for some Ecology staff classifications have increased by over 30% is a positive outcome of collective bargaining. Unfortunately, salaries for the environmental specialist and environmental planner classes, which comprise over a third of Ecology staff, have not kept pace as shown in the chart below. The gap between managers and this large group has grown even wider.


To make a meaningful comparison of compensation between WMS and classified staff it helps to use averages and to compound the increases to reflect the real impacts of increases. WMS bonuses are left out of this comparison due to the variability that complicates the analysis, however you can keep in mind that bonuses are above and beyond the numbers given.

With compounding, the actual differential between WMS and Ecology staff increased to 15%. This means WMS received 15% more in compensation than classified staff over the same time period.

Impacts of the System

No one who works in state government begrudges other employees when they seek to improve their compensation. However when you look at the numbers and the trends, it appears that as a group managers have been acting entirely in self-interest by granting each other raises and bonuses. Are managers that much more valuable than the employees who do the work upon which their increases are based?

The sheer number of managers who received a compensation increase shows that such increases have become routine. Yet the criteria in the WMS Guidelines and Handbook have not changed; increases should be based on either the demonstrated growth of the manager in their position or for outstanding performance above and beyond normal expectations. Are managers truly gifted, laden with MBAs and MPAs, as described in the WMS guidelines?

Funding for WMS Compensation

According to an untitled, draft memo from the former Employee Services director, Joy St. Germaine, additional legislative appropriations for employee salary increases are not given. According to the memo, OFM expects salary increases to be covered by vacancy savings.

In Ecology’s case this also includes unused travel budget, allocated unused training, unpurchased equipment, and left over contracts and grant funds. Managers then develop a spending plan which, if kept under the allocations, leaves funds to pay for bonuses and G&D increases.Although this funding approach may work well for manager’s salaries it directly and negatively impacts Ecology staff by reducing funding for promotions, training, travel and project work. In turn, the denial of training and travel opportunities limits professional development, and in some cases prevents employees from getting the job done. The cost of leaving funded positions vacant also takes a toll on staff that must absorb the workload in most cases while the position goes unfilled.

Having just emerged from an informal reduction in force in the Water Quality Program, doubt is further cast on the integrity of the WMS compensation process as a reward for performance. Underestimating revenue flow from permit fees, and inattention to expenditures resulted in the program going into the red and almost led to the layoff of a number of WQ staff. Managers in the WQ program received G&D increases and bonuses in January of 2008, along with the rest of the agency, while their program’s budget crisis was taking form.
Throughout the agency the amount spent on G&D for managers was $492,496 last January. Cash bonuses were also awarded in the amount of $39,346 to specific individuals while the economy was tanking.

During the kind of difficult economic times that the state is presently experiencing we expect managers will work collaboratively with us to mitigate the impacts of reduced revenue streams. If the lack of money forces Ecology to cut back on staff advancement opportunities or in staff reductions, WMS managers must share in the pain or be willing to sacrifice the significant gains they provided themselves over the past eight years. Why must classified staff bear the burden of layoffs or lack of promotional and professional development opportunities?

The WMS system essentially places managers, and the budget planners (also WMS) who work for them, in a situation where their interests are aligned toward political outcomes. It is our managers that will be called to deal with the budget crisis and to formulate staffing plans if there will be a reduction in force. Because we are divided by a separate and not equal system of compensation, we are not “all in the same boat.” How can we trust the process and the managers in charge of it if our interests are not aligned?

What we’ve done so far

When the PDR information was first analyzed last summer the importance of the data was immediately evident. The contract bargaining team was provided copies, and used the information in last minute negotiations last summer. WFSE executive director Greg Devereaux and elected president Carol Dotlich provided Governor Gregoire with copies as well as to individuals within OFM during pre-contract discussions. Greg and Carol continue to pursue the issues of fundamental compensation inequities in their regular discussions with the Governor, and are pursuing similar PDR requests at other agencies to evaluate the issue statewide.

[Refer to SLIDE 23 above]

The powerpoint was also provided to representatives from Ecology’s management, and we offered to meet with director Jay Manning to explain our analysis and discuss its implications. So far our offers to meet with him have been declined.

What’s next?

One of the most concerning aspects of funding for WMS bonuses and salary increases is the veil of secrecy that has been placed over the entire process. Unlike salary information for classified staff WMS salaries and bonuses are not published, nor is any information provided regarding their bonuses. The foundation of good government is transparency; in how it operates to make decisions and how it manages money. It should not have been necessary to resort to public disclosure to obtain this information. As a start we are advocating the public posting of manager compensation increases.

If there is a reduction in force, formal or informal, the union must be notified and provided the opportunity to bargain over the impacts. We will need to call on individual members to help with the bargaining process, and volunteers to serve on teams to meet with our managers.

Please consider stepping forward to help the bargaining unit represent your interests as Ecology is faced with the budget crisis.

Download pdf of the Ecology BU Bulletin 2008


The governor releases her budget proposal Thursday (Dec. 18). By law, she must propose a balanced budget. With a potential $5 billion deficit in the 2009-2011 biennium, her budget plan will be brutal. Big cuts will be proposed.

Federation President Carol Dotlich is urging members, thought to keep an eye on the big picture.

"When you see that budget, I don't want you to overreact to it," Dotlich told members and Spokane-area legislators at Local 1221's pre-session banquet Dec. 11.

"I don't want you to be panicked. I want you to be determined."

Dotlich said the governor's budget is the start, not the end, of the budget process. The Legislature will have the final say.

But as we told you last week, the Legislature and the governor in the end don't have to approve a balanced budget. There can be some red ink for the sake of preserving quality services. Some are talking about a ballot measure to raise revenue.

So when the governor unveils her budget, remember it's not the final word. Far from it.
Dotlich urged members to continue submitting "Sensible Solutions" to the budget crisis. And she urged members to write their members of Congress and President-elect Obama to support a federal economic stimulus package to help our state.

"We're going to try our best to fill that state budget hole with federal dollars," she said.

Go to to submit "Sensible Solutions" and send a message to Congress and President-elect Obama.

Other creative ideas are percolating:

  • Legislative leaders like Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown support rolling back some of the $53 billion in tax breaks the state gives away each biennium. That's right, $53 BILLION. That's right--the state gives up nearly twice as much potential revenue as it spends every two years. Many are good, like the sales tax exemption on food. But many are old, outdated and unfair. Rolling back just 10 percent of those tax breaks, tax loopholes and tax giveaways would cover the deficit.
  • And Speaker of the House Frank Chopp said the deficit problem is not that bad. He told a Tri-Cities audience that not spending $2 billion in authorized but unspent funds could take a big slice out of the deficit.
  • And, as you can imagine, there are some unwise solutions being proposed as well.
    That's why Dotlich urged the Spokane audience and all Federation members to push for a federal economic stimulus package and submit "Sensible Solutions."

    "We can do this together," she said. "We are 40,000 strong. There isn't anything we can't tackle and win."

    Remember, the solution to the budget crisis and our overall economic recession will be creative ideas to create and keep jobs-including state jobs-and finding the revenue to preserve quality services the people of this state need in these tough times.

    December 9, 2008


    Gov. Chris Gregoire unveils her 2009-2011 budget Dec. 18, according to The Olympian.

    She is required by law to propose a balanced budget. That’s why she said her plan will be brutal.

    But you might be interested to know what the media is saying. Passing a balanced budget is not a legal or constitutional requirement. So the governor under the state Budget and Accounting Act must “propose” a balance budget. But neither the Legislature nor the governor must approve one. This fiscal version of “Mythbusters” is leading some to call for borrowing through bonding to help pay off the projected $5.1 billion deficit.

    That’s because many economists and historians say slashing budgets and laying off employees is the absolute wrong thing to do in the kind of severe recession we’re in. Even President Elect Barack Obama has said economic recovery trumps the deficit.

    History also shows that the slash and burn method of dealing with a recession and deficits is disastrous. Professor James N. Gregory, director of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington, wrote in the Seattle Times Dec. 5 that state government should step in with spending to maintain services and keep jobs.

    During the Great Depression in 1931, then-Gov. Roland Hartley vetoed economic stimulus measures in favor of a balanced budget and no revenue increases.

    Writes Gregory:

    That year, economic activity declined more sharply in Seattle than in cities that practiced countercyclical spending, such as San Francisco. By late 1931, unemployment in Seattle was close to 25 percent and thousands were hungry and homeless. A giant encampment had begun to spread across the empty lots near Alaskan Way. Residents named it Hooverville, after the president they blamed for the crisis.

    Gov. Christine Gregoire and the Legislature are on track to repeat the mistakes of 1931. Committed to balancing the state budget as required by current law, the governor has already ordered state agencies to cut more than $590 million and is proposing to slash another $5 billion to $6 billion in the next budget cycle.

    That will destroy as many as 20,000 jobs, adding to the state's escalating unemployment problem. It will mean drastic cutbacks in health and social services just when they are most needed. It will mean that college applicants will be turned away, hurting young people and further burdening the job market. It will damage, perhaps permanently, our universities and other institutions vital to the future of Washington. This is not what we need at this perilous juncture.

    Note that Gregory wrote this piece still using the now busted myth that Washington law requires a balanced budget.

    Still, he says, the governor and Legislature must show flexibility in 2009:

    The governor and the Legislature must find a way to keep from escalating the job losses. They must find a way to avoid massive layoffs of state workers. They must avoid devastating cuts to higher education and needed programs and services. They must find a way to act with common sense in the next legislative session. To do otherwise would be inexcusable.

    Meanwhile, the governor is meeting with several different groups, including labor, to try to find innovative solutions to the economic downturn. One keystone of that is a federal economic stimulus package.

    You can help. We have a link on our website so you can send a message urging our two U.S. senators and your U.S. House member to support a federal stimulus package that helps Washington state that:

    • Raises FMAP (Federal Medical Assistant Percentage) without strings, allowing governors to determine how best to use them.

    • Includes temporary flexible block grant assistance to allow state and local governments to provide vital public services.

    • Includes S-SHIP dollars to continue children’s healthcare.

    • Increases food stamp funding.

    • Increases unemployment funds and extend them for two years.

    • Blocks earmarks—funds that arrive early produce the best results.

    Go to and look for the “Invest in Washington” link in the “Action Center.”

    Also, we have a letter-writing campaign at the grassroots level to generate as many letters as possible in support of a federal economic stimulus package by the Jan. 12 start of the Legislature. Watch for them. And keep up-to-date on other developments at


    It’s taking a little longer to get technical issues resolved in the payout of the DD case resource manager settlement.

    But it’s worth the time so none of the recipients of the $1 million settlement is shorted.

    To recap, the settlement was OK’d by the Legislature and the courts last year to settle the pay equity lawsuit. The case resource managers were doing work comparable to that done by social workers, but not getting paid for it.

    Since then, the settlement money has been transferred, the third-party administrator has been chosen and the formula for disbursement finalized.

    However, the key information from the Department of Personnel on recipients, including work history that would determine how much of the settlement each would get, had several discrepancies that we have to challenge them on.

    There are discrepancies affecting about 10 percent of the case resource managers entitled to the settlement. We do not want anyone to be shorted because of DOP’s errors.

    When the settlement checks finally go out, they will include what each recipient is entitled to, plus their share of interest on the $1 million since it was deposited in the bank.

    We’ll keep you updated.

    December 3, 2008


    President-elect Barack Obama and the new Congress appear headed toward an economic stimulus package for states and workers. Some 387 economists, including several Nobel laureates, back that effort.

    Today, governors met with Obama in Philadelphia to discuss help to financially strapped states.

    Gov. Chris Gregoire pressed the new president for an economic stimulus package.

    “Today, I asked President-elect Obama to propose a stimulus package that would provide Americans a steady paycheck, not a one time ‘bonus’ check,” she announced after meeting the president-elect.

    AFSCME is urging increased federal funds for state Medicaid programs to stabilize state budgets and to help jumpstart the economy.

    AFSCME is also calling for “counter-cyclical flexible grants.” These block grants would enable state and local governments to continue to provide public services.

    In a related development, the governor has appointed Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux to a special task force on Washington’s fiscal crisis. That special panel meets for the first time Thursday (Dec. 4).

    Also expect some budget news to come out of this week’s pre-session legislative hearings in Olympia.

    November 25, 2008


    “Budget crisis has state workers on edge” is how one newspaper headline put it.

    With last week’s announcement of the projected $5.1 billion budget deficit for 2009-2011, politicians and pundits are talking about the need for budget cuts, including layoffs.

    For the record, the Federation is urging the governor and legislators to avoid layoffs as harmful to any economic recovery -- “the worst anti-stimulus package you can have,” is how Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux has put it.

    We believe talk of layoffs is premature—we should look at creative ways to scale back spending before making the economy worse by putting more workers on the unemployment rolls.

    Many of you have already submitted creative budget ideas through our “Sensible Solutions 2009” web feature. Go to and click on the “Sensible Solutions 2009” icon to send in your idea.

    And to ease any uncertainty if any layoffs big or small materialize, we soon will have updated information on our website about what a layoff is and what your rights and protections are.

    The governor says layoffs may be necessary, as a “last resort.”

    “I don’t want to—it will be a last resort, but candidly I don’t see any other way to make the kind of cuts that we do to meet that kind of deficit,” Gov. Chris Gregoire told KOMO TV Nov. 20.

    But it’s not all gloomy. Economic stimulus packages at the federal and state levels offer hope. President-elect Barack Obama today announced a massive federal economic stimulus package that will total anywhere from $500 billion to $700 billion. Here’s what the Associated Press reported today:

    His economic team in place, Obama has tasked his aides with assembling an ambitious measure to not only swiftly pump money into the battered economy, but also create 2.5 million new jobs, send a tax cut to the poor and middle class, and make massive government investments in energy-saving and other technologies designed to pay for themselves in the long run.

    And Federation members are getting out the word that resorting to layoffs and not funding your negotiated pay raises are the wrong way to go. Government should be used as a tool to prime the economy and help those harmed by the downturn get back on their feet. The deficit cannot be balanced on the backs of state employees.

    Here’s a good synopsis of both sides of the debate that ran in the Spokane Spokesman-Review on Nov. 24 (following is an excerpt):

    The largest state workers union, the Washington Federation of State Employees, argues against job cuts. It represents about 40,000 of the state's more than 100,000 employees.

    "We believe, as some economists believe, that the worst thing to do during an economic downturn is to lay off, especially public employees," said Tim Welch, the union's spokesman. Demand for state services rises in tough times, he said. And in an economy reliant on consumer spending, he said, keeping people on the job is a good idea.

    "The problem with state government is everyone doesn't look at it as comparable to Microsoft or Boeing," Welch said. "They look at it as something that needs to be cut. But a worker is a worker is a worker."

    A similar argument is being made by Gregoire, who's one of many governors calling for an influx of federal dollars to pay for construction projects and create jobs.

    "We don't want people to lose hope," Welch said. "Government can step up and give hope by creating jobs, and that will help us recover."

    Others question whether cash-strapped taxpayers can continue to foot the bill.

    Yes, many state workers provide important services, said Jason Mercier, with the conservative Washington Policy Center.

    "But the taxpayers are not sending money to Olympia to provide employment," he said. "They're sending it to provide a service. And if that service is no longer necessary or funded, then that position should not be continued."

    Union-negotiated cost-of-living increases for state workers, Mercier said, will cost $352 million more over the next two years. Similar increases for non-employees who are still paid by the state, such as home health care workers, add $169 million more.

    Most would get a 2 percent cost-of-living increase in each of the next two years. But even before last week's news that the budget shortfall is far worse than expected, Gregoire was floating the idea that unions may be forced to choose between keeping those increases or keeping jobs.

    Welch argues it's a false choice.

    "We think these were modest pay raises that could be sustained in a down economic year," he said. "Two (percent) and two is not giving away the farm."

    A far better idea, he said, would be to scrutinize the state's dozens of tax breaks, some dating back to the Great Depression. Some are clearly good ideas, he said, like the tax exemption on food. Other tax breaks, however, may be costing the state too much to continue.

    "Folks have had a moratorium on paying that tax," he said. "And we think that in tough times, folks who've had those breaks should maybe pay their fair share."

    Some lawmakers, notably Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, make a similar argument.

    "I think we will absolutely be looking at current tax breaks," she said.

    For workers, the picture will get a little clearer in mid-December, when the governor will propose a budget for the next two years. Lawmakers have until next spring to come up with a final version.


    The report on social workers’ workloads mandated earlier this year by the Legislature is due out soon. This caps the work of the special DSHS ad hoc committee on which Federation members participated.

    While the report is not yet out, we know in general it will identify specific tasks that could be performed by job classes other than the case-carrying social workers. In a few cases, the report may recommend contracting.

    We’ll need your help once the report comes out and we look to the 2009 Legislature for solutions. We’ve set up a “CA Social Worker Workload Blog” on our website at This will help in the discussion. The blog already has a lot of helpful background. When the workload report is released, you’ll find it there, too.

    One big piece of news, according to Jeanine Livingston, the Federation’s contract compliance director:

    “We did get agreement at the Oct. 30 union-management communications committee to continue the workload ad hoc committee for another year. We will use that as a vehicle to continue to push for relief for our social workers.”

    And, Livingston warns, we need to counter expected moves from the private sector to take away the work of bargaining unit social workers. “Input from our members is critical to our success,” she said, urging social worker members to use the CA Social Worker Blog.


    Workers in one small Washington State University unit have finally won WFSE/AFSCME as their union—three months after the vote.

    The latest result came Nov. 20 after the Public Employment Relations Commission ruled on a challenged ballot that could have affected the outcome in the WSU Instrument Shop election.

    But PERC Executive Director Cathleen Callahan ruled the ballot would not be counted.

    That meant the Aug. 13 vote of 3-2 for WFSE/AFSCME would stand.

    As we told you at the time, nearly 72 percent of workers in another unit -- the WSU Maintenance, Utilities and Construction Services Bargaining Unit -- signed authorization cards for WFSE/AFSCME. PERC in August certified WFSE/AFSCME as their union. That unit has 142 workers.


    The University of Washington has been found guilty of an unfair labor practice for refusing to provide information the union requested in a discipline case involving a Skilled Trades member.

    The ruling from the Public Employment Relations Commission came Nov. 21. The UW had waited more than three months to file its answer to a separate ULP complaint filed by the Federation in December 2007.

    November 19, 2008


    The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council this morning said this state’s projected deficit will grow to $5 billion in the 2009-2011 budget cycle.

    The council also announced the national economic downturn has officially put Washington into a deficit in the current biennium. Up to now, we still had a surplus.

    The bulk of the revenue downturn comes from less consumer spending.

    “No one is buying cars or houses,” chief forecaster Arun Raha said.

    A hiring freeze and other measures taken by the governor have helped reduce the impact of the projected deficit. But at $5 billion, the projected deficit will cause more calls for cuts.

    State budget director Victor Moore said, “We’re going to have to find some cuts in the current biennium.” Council member Sen. Joseph Zarelli called for a supplemental budget in the first week of the legislative session in January to cut the current budget.

    The council said the need for a federal and state economic stimulus package are critical.

    All this means there will be increased pressure to take a meat ax to the budget. There will be talk of layoffs, program cuts and not funding the pay raises, benefits and other economic parts of your just-ratified contracts.

    So we need to be creative and show lawmakers where we can make surgical cuts. As Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux told National Public Radio this week: “Layoffs are the worst anti-stimulus program you can actually have.”

    You may know of possible spending cuts—big and small—that could be proposed. If you do, go submit your ideas directly to WFSE Executive Director, Greg Devereux. Or, share your suggestions, comments here.

    Watch these hotlines, website and the union newspaper for more updates.

    November 5, 2008


    The University of Washington is offering release time and even interpreters for members who go to the UW’s Employee Assistance Service to deal with the tragic death last week of co-worker Insoo Chun.

    Chun, a custodian and Local 1488 member, died Oct. 30 after apparently dousing himself with gasoline and setting himself on fire in Red Square. His name was released to the media.

    Local 1488 members are stunned and saddened by his death. The UW is encouraging members trying to deal with the tragedy to visit Employee Advisory Services. The UW will provide release time. Members who need an interpreter can get one.


    The third-party administrator is in place, the formula for disbursement has been calculated—but the Federation is still waiting for a final piece of information from the state in the $1 million settlement of the DD case resource management lawsuit.

    As you recall, the goal was to get the settlement checks to the 360 affected DD case resource managers by the end of the year.

    These are the folks affected by the Federation lawsuit filed in December 2005. The settlement came in August 2007. The Legislature funded it in March 2008 and the courts OK’d the settlement that same month.

    The DD case resource managers filed the pay equity lawsuit to bring them in line with social workers. They perform similar work.

    ******* UPDATE******** 12/9/08


    It’s taking a little longer to get technical issues resolved in the payout of the DD case resource manager settlement.

    But it’s worth the time so none of the recipients of the $1 million settlement is shorted.

    To recap, the settlement was OK’d by the Legislature and the courts last year to settle the pay equity lawsuit. The case resource managers were doing work comparable to that done by social workers, but not getting paid for it.

    Since then, the settlement money has been transferred, the third-party administrator has been chosen and the formula for disbursement finalized.

    However, the key information from the Department of Personnel on recipients, including work history that would determine how much of the settlement each would get, had several discrepancies that we have to challenge them on.

    There are discrepancies affecting about 10 percent of the case resource managers entitled to the settlement. We do not want anyone to be shorted because of DOP’s errors.

    When the settlement checks finally go out, they will include what each recipient is entitled to, plus their share of interest on the $1 million since it was deposited in the bank.

    We’ll keep you updated.


    We've put a link on our website at to a blog where those affected by the proposed changes to social worker job classes can comment on the proposed draft social service case worker job classes.

    The proposed reclassification came out of contract negotiations. The Federation and state couldn't come to agreement then, but agreed to a process to keep working in hopes of reaching an acceptable reclassification package.

    The proposal affects more than 879 DSHS social workers, DD outstation managers, DD case resource managers and DD administrator 1s.

    The Social Worker Reclassification Blog allows you to review all the current and proposed draft job specifications and then leave your comments online. This will help the committee of General Government Bargaining Team members and social workers working with the Department of Personnel, the Labor Relations Office and DSHS on an acceptable package.

    By the way, the contract set up a similar process for several other classes (list below) that may be in need of adjustments. As those discussions start and proceed, we'll have similar resources available to guide your union representatives.

    Those other job classes (in the memorandum of understanding tied to the General Government contract):

      Financial Services Specialist 3, 4, and 5
      Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor 1, 2, 3, and 4
      Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor
      Quality Control Specialist
      Community Corrections Officer 1, 2, and 3
      Community Corrections Specialist
      Cook 1, 2, and 3
      Equipment Technician 2, 3, and 4
      Dietician 1 and 2
      Psychiatric Social Worker 1, 2, and 3

    October 21, 2008


    The head of the State Investment Board said the recent crisis on Wall Street has meant losses to the state pension fund.

    But SIB Executive Director Joe Dear told The Olympian Oct. 13 that there is still enough money to pay benefits.

    The plunge in stock prices has meant $177 million in losses in the past month. But that represents only about 0.2 percent of the $78 billion in the state pension fund.

    So, the state pension fund is still healthy, Dear said.

    “The difference between the contributions that come in, between government employers and employees, and what goes out in benefits is really close to even,” he said.

    “The interest income from our fixed-interest investments and income-producing investments like real estate is more than ample to assure our ability to pay benefits.”

    October 11, 2008


    The four-day workweek pilot program initiated by Gov. Chris Gregoire to save money and energy began Monday (Oct. 6) in most affected agencies with employees represented by the Federation. This comes after the union and state reached an agreement Oct. 1.

    The union had filed demand to bargain over employee impacts caused by the six-month pilot, such as those affecting commuting and childcare.

    Under the agreement, the state commits to being flexible on such issues as telecommuting, flexible work hours and breaks. The Office of Financial Management will continue to explore vanpool options under the state’s commute trip reduction program.

    The six agencies/offices affected by the Federation-state agreement are: Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (agencywide);
    Union Street office of the Department of Fish and Wildlife; Department of Services for the Blind (all offices, except Lacey); Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (agencywide); the Auburn regional office of the Parks and Recreation Commission; and the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board.


    Three gardeners at the University of Washington Bothell campus have struck a blow against contracting out of tree-trimming work.

    Tim Maurer, Richard Klein and Joe Marchand, all gardener 2s and Local 1488 members, should have been offered the opportunity to do the tree trimming, “even if it meant working overtime,” said Federation Senior Field Representative Phyllis Naiad.

    The university sent the Local 1488 members’ work to the City of Bothell, which did the tree trimming in early July. That violated their contract with the UW.

    “Tree trimming is work historically done by bargaining unit members,” Naiad said.

    She, Local 1488 Shop Steward John Miller and Local 1488 President Art Wake met with management and requested compensation for the tree-trimming the university didn’t allow the three to do.

    The result: The UW will pay Maurer, Klein and Marchand $200 each for the lost work.

    October 1, 2008

    Demand to Bargain on four-day workweek

    • The Federation on Sept. 24 filed a demand to bargain with the state Labor Relations Office because many members have expressed interest in the possible change in workweeks because of the pilot four-day workweek announced by the governor.


    A grievance settlement is bringing more than $29,000 to 52 Rainier School employees who suffered a loss in pay over promotions.

    They were not being promoted appropriately from attendant counselor trainee to the class of attendant counselor 1, said Senior Field Representative Amy Achilles.

    The back pay turned up in Sept. 25 paychecks. In the Aug. 14 settlement, the 52 will receive back pay totaling $29,357.81. The individual amount varies based on when they became qualified for the AC 1 position. The amounts ranged from $10.30 to $2,868.26.

    Local 491 Shop Steward Kellie Klimczak assisted in this victory.


    Some of you have also voiced concern about the budget talk in the race for governor.

    In a stunning development on that front, The Seattle Times reported yesterday that the campaign of gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi has admitted it lied in TV ads attacking Gov. Gregoire on the budget. Other print and broadcast media have now followed with the same results about the admitted Rossi fibbing.

    Rossi’s TV ads accuse Gregoire of denying there is a budget deficit.

    But as the Times reports:

    “The ad is inaccurate for this reason: The state is facing a projected $3.2 billion budget hole next year, but it does not have a deficit today.”

    The Times continues: “The current budget, which runs to June 30, 2009, is balanced and the state has several hundred million dollars in reserve. Part of the reserve is in a rainy-day fund that Gregoire pushed to create.”

    The Times reports that Gregoire has taken several measures in the face of a projected deficit of $3.2 billion in the two-year budget cycle starting July 1, 2009. “In fact,” as The Olympian reports today, “the latest state revenue report issued (in September) showed Washington still has a surplus of $529 million, which could grow to more than $800 million if Gregoire’s orders to cut $290 million in spending over the next year bear fruit.”

    The Times also reports “Rossi responded to her (Aug. 4 hiring freeze) announcement by saying Gregoire ‘has started to recognize the budget crisis she’s created’—his own admission that she was not denying a problem, contrary to what his ad suggests.”

    Rossi’s campaign admitted to the Times it had lied in the TV ads about Gregoire and the budget.

    “Rossi’s spokeswoman Jill Strait admits the state does not now have a deficit,” the Times reports. “But she stresses the state ‘does now face a projected deficit that we should be addressing today’,”—even though Rossi himself acknowledged the governor was tackling the projected deficit in his Aug. 4 statement on her hiring freeze.

    It’s not the first time Rossi has continued twisting the truth in the face of reality. And many of his distortions target your economic future.

    Here’s what he said in answer to an on-air question from KIRO radio talk show host Dori Monson on Sept. 3:

    MONSON: Would you give state employees a pay raise if you are the governor of this state?

    ROSSI: Well right now, I don’t know how you afford it. We’re $2.7 billion in the hole, so she’s giving them a raise with what money? With what money? And the problem is right now the way it works and this has happened since a bill that passed in 2002, which allows the governor to negotiate basically in a back room with the state employees before legislative session even starts. Before it even starts. Normally it used to be done during the legislative session and you would work it out with all the pieces of the budget.

    Rossi voted against the collective bargaining law in 2002, so he should know what’s in the law.

    Rossi suggested suspending negotiations, which is illegal. He seems to suggest returning to pay raises set during the legislative session, not through negotiations. The only problem: It’s illegal and would guarantee nothing for state employees because the law says the contracts must be done by Oct. 1—before the Legislature convenes.

    The law is clear on the role of all parties, including the Legislature. The law prohibits the Legislature from even considering contracts that didn’t finish by Oct. 1 (RCW 41.80.310 [3]).

    Still, lawmakers retain the all-important power of funding or not funding the economic parts of the contract. Contrary to recent news reports, legislators can vote the economic parts up or down but cannot tinker with the contracts. They can send the governor and the unions back to the table, but they can’t change the negotiated contracts. That’s the law (RCW 41.80.010 [3]):

    “The Legislature shall approve or reject the submission of the request for funds as a whole. The Legislature shall not consider a request for funds to implement a collective bargaining agreement unless the request is transmitted to the Legislature as part of the governor’s budget document … . If the Legislature rejects or fails to act on a submission, either party may reopen all or part of the agreement or the exclusive bargaining representative may seek to implement the (impasse) procedures” in the law.

    We will use this hotline and website to set the record straight when candidates distort the facts to target the well being of you and your families.


    To recap, all of the Federation’s contracts have now been ratified, beating the Oct. 1 deadline set in law. It’s important to make that deadline—it’s one of the legal conditions before the governor can request funding and before the Legislature can vote on that funding.

    Since Monday noon, when the General Government, Higher Education Coalition and Washington State University ratification results came in, four more contracts have been ratified:

    • Eastern Washington University Bargaining Unit 1 – 94-39 to ratify.
    • Eastern Washington University Bargaining Unit 2 – 9-4 to ratify.
    • University of Washington Police Management – 5-0 to ratify.
    • University of Washington (main Seattle campus, Harborview Medical Center, Bothell, Tacoma, Friday Harbor, Pack Forest) – 474-136 to ratify.

    While we’re on the subject of contracts, some of you have voiced concern about recent media reports suggesting the Legislature is considering unilaterally changing these contracts because of the dark economic clouds on the horizon.

    To set the record straight: The Legislature votes on the funding of the contracts. They cannot change the contracts. They can’t touch the non-economic parts. On the compensation and other economic items, they vote thumbs up or thumbs down on funding. If they vote down the funding, the state and the Federation go back into negotiations.

    The short answer is: The Legislature can’t micromanage your contracts. And with your help, the Federation will once again mount a comprehensive campaign to win legislative funding for what we believe is a package of fiscally responsible contracts.

    July 11, 2008


    The Federation-led coalition of all state employee unions today held the line on affordable health care when they reached agreement with the state on the health care benefits article going in all Federation contracts, as well as all other state employee contracts.

    Federation representatives led by Chief Negotiator Steve Kreisberg of AFSCME fought off proposed management takeaways, maintained the current premium share structure and won important wellness incentives.

    The health care article was a big victory for Federation members who identified affordable health care as one of their top “must have priorities” in the 2009-2011 contract. The Federation members on the Health Care Coalition were adamant about winning these provisions because of members’ strong call to hold the line on affordable health care.

    Under the agreement, state employees covered by the health benefits funding article will continue to pay 12 percent of the cost of their health care premiums. The state will continue to pick up 88 percent.

    The health care article also includes two key provisions promoting wellness:

    • A big win is the provision that if health cost increases stay under a certain level that employees would see the savings used to promote wellness benefits.

    • And employees could use state time to take the state’s Health Risk Assessment survey. The state wants more employees to take the survey to promote a “healthy and productive workforce.”

    This contract article covers calendar years 2010 and 2011. This is not to be confused with the 2009 health insurance premium rates adopted July 9 by the Public Employees Benefits Board.

    The agreement came shortly after 6:15 p.m. The negotiations took place at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

    The Federation members on the Health Care Coalition on hand for the July 10 bargaining session were: Rodolfo Franco, Seattle Community College, Local 304, representing the Higher Education Coalition; Danette Rogers, University of Washington Tacoma Campus, Local 1488, representing the UW team; Cathy Green, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Local 931, representing the EWU team; from the General Government Bargaining Team, Natasha Pranger, Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, Seattle, Local 304, Craig Gibelyou, Western State Hospital, Local 793, Lakewood, and Sue Henricksen, DD Field Services, Tacoma, Local 53; Federation officers Carol Dotlich (president), Howard Ocobock (vice president) and Lee Novak (secretary); Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux; and Steve Kreisberg, AFSCME, chief negotiator.

    July 10, 2008


    The Public Employees Benefits Board today (Wednesday, July 9) approved the state employee health insurance rates for 2009.

    They also voted to ask the Legislature to ask the Legislature to extend benefits to opposite-sex domestic partners.

    The rates for three plans will go down while the rates for three will go up.

    The PEBB action should not be confused with the contract negotiations on the funding of health insurance benefits that start tomorrow (Thursday, July 10). The PEBB bases its actions on the already-negotiated percentage share in the contracts and state budget. Employees currently pick up 12 percent of premium costs and the employer pays 88 percent. If premium costs go down, the dollar amount paid by employees for their 12 percent share goes down. If costs go up, the dollar amount goes up.

    The plans with rate decreases are the Uniform Medical Plan, Kaiser Classic and Kaiser Value. Those three plans now account for 57 percent of state employees in a health plan, with all but 2 percent in the UMP.

    The rate decreases for those plans are:

    Uniform Medical Plan—Employee share goes from $28 a month in 2008 to $26 a month in 2009; employee and spouse—from $66/mo. in 2008 to $62/mo. in 2009; employee and children—from $49/mo. in 2008 to $46/mo. in 2009; and full family—from $87/mo. in 2008 to $82/mo. in 2009.

    Kaiser Classic-- Employee share goes from $101 a month in 2008 to $76 a month in 2009; employee and spouse—from $212/mo. in 2008 to $162/mo. in 2009; employee and children—from $177/mo. in 2008 to $133/mo. in 2009; and full family—from $288/mo. in 2008 to $219/mo. in 2009.

    Kaiser Value-- Employee share goes from $59 a month in 2008 to $33 a month in 2009; employee and spouse—from $128/mo. in 2008 to $76/mo. in 2009; employee and children—from $103/mo. in 2008 to $58/mo. in 2009; and full family—from $172/mo. in 2008 to $101/mo. in 2009.

    The three plans with rate increases are Group Health Classic, Group Health Value and Aetna PEP.

    Group Health Classic, with about 22 percent of all state employees enrolled, comes in with a dramatic 13.3 percent hike. Health Care Authority staff explained that Group Health attributed its increased premium costs to a spike in the carrier’s costs and demand for services by enrollees.

    Pressed by Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux, a PEBB member, HCA Executive Director Steve Hill said he and staff planned to meet with the new management team at Group Health later this month to get answers about the carrier’s increased costs and whether it’s a trend or not.

    Here are the three plans that will have rate increases in 2009:

    Group Health Classic-- Employee share goes from $74 a month in 2008 to $107 a month in 2009; employee and spouse—from $158/mo. in 2008 to $224/mo. in 2009; employee and children—from $130/mo. in 2008 to $187/mo. in 2009; and full family—from $214/mo. in 2008 to $304/mo. in 2009.

    Group Health Value-- Employee share goes from $20 a month in 2008 to $25 a month in 2009; employee and spouse—from $50/mo. in 2008 to $60/mo. in 2009; employee and children—from $35/mo. in 2008 to $44/mo. in 2009; and full family—from $65/mo. in 2008 to $79/mo. in 2009.

    Aetna PEP-- Employee share goes from $104 a month in 2008 to $112 a month in 2009; employee and spouse—from $218/mo. in 2008 to $234/mo. in 2009; employee and children—from $182/mo. in 2008 to $196/mo. in 2009; and full family—from $296/mo. in 2008 to $318/mo. in 2009.

    The PEBB also approved some benefit improvements, including a hearing aid benefit from $300 maximum for Group Health and Kaiser and $400 maximum for Aetna and UMP, with an $800 maximum every 36 months.

    The state will continue to pay the premium costs for the three dental plans: DeltaCare, Willamette Dental and Uniform Dental Plan.

    The changes take effect Jan. 1, 2009.

    The Health Care Authority has more information on the PEBB website at

    Open enrollment will be later this fall, from late October to late November. Benefits fairs where you can get in-person information if you’re considering switching plans will also take place during the open enrollment period.

    The PEBB also acted on a proposal to expand health benefits to opposite-sex domestic partners of PEBB enrollees. On a 3-2 vote, the PEBB adopted the following proposal to the Legislature:

    “Resolved, that the PEB Board hereby requests that the Legislature and Governor provide the Health Care Authority financing and authority to extend PEBB benefits to the Opposite Sex Domestic Partners of PEBB participants.”

    Devereux voted with the majority.

    Benefits were extended to same-sex domestic partners in 2001.

    July 7, 2008


    Night-shift custodians at the University of Washington and the UW-run Harborview Medical Center will see their shift differential pay jump to $1 an hour under an agreement hammered out July 2 between the union and the administration.

    The increase is effective July 1.

    A “side letter” included in the current UW contract called for a study of a boost based on market data. The current contract guaranteed the custodians a shift differential of at least 65 cents an hour. So Tuesday’s agreement boosted their “shift diff” nearly 54 percent.

    Giving credit where it’s due, Federation Senior Field Representative Phyllis Naiad said the department director overseeing custodial services, Gene Woodard, was the prime mover and shaker on the management side to get the shift differential hike.


    The Federation’s Employment Security Statewide Union/Management Communication Committee cancelled its June 30 meeting with the agency after it became clear the agency had engaged in a clear pattern of obstruction.

    The union team “chose to cancel the meeting instead of showing up and being made to ‘look like fools’,” said Federation Senior Field Representative Greg Davis.

    Davis told ES Deputy Commissioner Paul Trause the agency had refused to release one of the elected union representatives on the committee and vetoed additional resource persons. Management also restricted the length of a preparatory pre-meeting and the lunch break, travel time—and even the agenda items the union wished to discuss. This all came in the two months leading up to the June 30 meeting the union had proposed take place much sooner.

    “The committee truly feels that the entire process from the request date, the denial of elected members, the attack on the length of our items, the denial of specialists for some of the items, to the travel, lunch and caucus time (restrictions) has been a direct attack on them for being ‘Union Active’ and wanting to make a difference in their workplace,” Davis told Trause.

    Davis urged Trause to join in re-establishing a healthy union/management communication process.

    “I truly hope we can work through this and have a UMCC meeting that will benefit both parties, the citizens we help and the taxpayers we work for,” Davis said.


    A group of Federation caseload resource managers from the DSHS Division of Developmental Disabilities pressed the agency secretary on their “incredible workload demands” – and now both sides will meet later this fall in a special union/management committee.

    This “ad hoc” committee will “work collaboratively with management to look at that workload and to develop strategies to reduce and or prioritize the work,” said Randy Lorello, a Federation regional field services supervisor.

    “All the members spoke candidly with management and did a great job articulating their concerns” in the July 1 meeting with DSHS Secretary Robin Arnold-Williams and other top officials, Lorello said.

    The DD case resource manager workload committee will be modeled after the Children’s Services social worker workload committee created by the 2008 Legislature.


    The Children’s Services Workload Committee mandated by the 2008 Legislature on July 1 issued its required progress report.

    The panel has met four times and plans eight more sessions before issuing a final report by Nov. 15.

    In the progress report to the Legislature, the joint union-management committee spelled out the top issues the committee is honing in on:
    • Child Safety continues as the top priority for everything we do.
    • Increased permanency planning will yield positive child outcomes and help reduce caseloads.
    • Recognize the gap between available resources and workload requirements.
    • Increased communication with staff is necessary.
    • Recognize and respond to new competing external/internal requirements.
    • Recognize that workload impacts cannot be efficiently mitigated by efficiencies alone.
    • Staff retention and recruitment impacts workload issues.
    You can read the full text of the progress report by going to the Federation website at and choosing “CA Social Workers” under “Local Unions, Committees and Bargaining Units” on the top left side of the main webpage.



    The state has appealed the Federation’s court victory against the new restrictive contracting out rules issued by the Department of General Administration.

    The state June 20 filed to ask the state Court of Appeals to overturn the union victory that came last month in Thurston County Superior Court.

    That lower court ruled May 9 that GA exceeded the power given to it by the Legislature when it wrote the offending rules spelling out which employees could offer alternatives to contracting out or who could bid for projects through “Employee Business Units.”

    The appeals court has set no hearing date.

    UPDATE: DD Case Resource Manager Lawsuit settlement


    The Washington Federation of State Employees has retained a third-party administrator for the $1 million settlement of its class action lawsuit on behalf of 360 DD Case Resource Managers over pay inequities.

    The qualified trust from which the settlement monies will be disbursed has been established. The state should be wiring the settlement funds into the trust any day.

    The union is working on a disbursement formula to recommend to the class representatives that will be both fast and fair. That formula would determine individual amounts that each of the 360 DD Resource Manager recipients would receive. That recommendation will be made within a couple of weeks.

    Once the formula is set, the union will then need to get the data from the state upon which to make disbursements. This will likely take several months.

    Payments should come by the end of the year.

    For updates see > Legal Center > DD CRM Updates



    First the facts, then what it’s really all about.


    • As of the latest two-day bargaining session June 24 and 25, your General Government Bargaining Team has reached some important agreements on more than half of the contract. A lot of progress has been made. A lot of work on the big issues remains.

    • They continue to press your priority issues as identified on the recent survey answered by some 5,400 of you: Pay increases; affordable health care; salary survey/closing the pay gap; additional paid time off; more flexible work schedules; and workload.

    • And they have been bolstered by the thousands of handwritten comments you submitted on the surveys. For instance the comments on workplace bullying submitted by about 13 percent of those who turned in surveys.

    • Negotiations on health care funding start July 10 by the Federation-led coalition of all state employee unions.

    • It is likely that negotiations on your economic package will take place after that.

    • Your General Government team is set to bargain again July 8 and 9 and July 15 and 16. It’s not known if more dates will be needed after that.

    • The increasing number of worksite job actions (see below) is having a tremendous impact at the table. Please keep them going. Your nearest Federation field office has resources available. You can also e-mail with details about an upcoming job action or questions on logistics.


    Your General Government team has a contractual obligation under Article 39.12 to honor confidentiality at the table.

    Your team continues to take their job seriously as they work through the details and the words on the page and try to write your values into the contract.

    While they can’t divulge many details, they can remind you of the bigger picture, what it’s really about and why you need to continue job actions.


    Your teams at the table and you in your job actions are fighting for a contract that values you as state employees. A contract that’s based on your values. A contract that values the services you provide that make this state run. The services that keep our passes open and highways safe. The services that keep our children safe. The services that help workers injured on the job or those who lose their jobs. The services that protect the most vulnerable citizens in our state with developmental disabilities or mental illness. The services that rehabilitate youthful offenders. The law enforcement services that supervise released felons and keep our communities safe. The services that provide us a system of state parks, clean water, clean air, healthy forests and natural resources, safe agricultural products. A contract as good as your values.


    Economics and affordable health care are important, but they’re important for what they mean in recruiting and keeping good state employees. It’s about state employees who want to make state service a decent career. State employees who want to buy a tank of gas and not give up their dream of sending their kids to college. State employees who want to be able to take their family to the doctor and still buy groceries. State employees who want to provide quality services and not face the economic catastrophes that would turn them into clients of those quality services. State employees who want the same American dream as everyone else. Nothing more, nothing less.


    That’s really why you should continue expressing those basic values in your job actions in support of a fair contract. There are signs. There’s buttons. There are placards. But management needs to see your faces. Management needs to see our members standing up for a contract that values what we do. You know the issues. You’ve always known the issues. You know what it’s like to be a state employee, day in and day out. The state needs to understand you deserve a contract that recognizes what you do to keep this state running.



    Washington, D.C. -
    The International Executive Board of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, unanimously endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States on June 19, 2008.

    SeaTac, WA - The Executive Board of the Washington Federation of State Employees unanimously endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States on June 21, 2008.

    “Barack Obama has mobilized a historic movement to reclaim the greatness of America. With his leadership, our nation will rise up to rebuild the middle class at home and restore America’s reputation in the world,” said AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee.

    “AFSCME will mobilize more members and invest more resources than ever before to help Senator Obama win the White House. We will turn out an army of 40,000 AFSCME activists to knock on doors, make phones calls and talk with their co-workers and neighbors to produce an unprecedented turnout in the 2008 election.”



    The state’s June revenue forecast which is a key factor in bargaining on compensation came out today and it’s not as dire as some had predicted.

    Revenue is expected to drop $166.8 million because of a number of factors. That would still leave a budget surplus of $801.4 million in the 2009-2011 budget cycle, according to The Olympian blog.

    Before the numbers were even released, some legislators called for hiring freeze in state government. With the less-dire forecast, we’re not sure what they’ll be calling for now.

    June 11, 2008


    Ecology members around the state stood shoulder-to-shoulder the past few weeks as they stood with their Water Quality Division colleagues who faced layoffs because of the agency’s budget mismanagement.

    But we’re glad to report that thanks to that tenacity and solidarity, the agency on Monday told a delegation of Federation Ecology leaders no Water Quality staff would lose their job and no one would face a loss of pay.

    The Ecology leaders met with agency director Jay Manning at the headquarters in Lacey. Federation President Carol Dotlich and Executive Director Greg Devereux joined in pushing for more transparency on budget issues to prevent what almost happened in Water Quality.

    Kerry Graber, a Local 443 Ecology member in the meeting, reports that Manning and his team said the last two people slated for layoff had been successfully transferred without having to take demotions or a loss in pay.

    Before the meeting, about 25 members gathered in Ecology headquarters lobby to collect the last of 160 signatures on a petition to Manning. They then escorted their representatives up three flights to stairs to Manning’s office.

    Meanwhile, Ecology members around the state gathered in their worksites to sign the petition and show support for their team in Lacey. At the Northwest Regional Office in Bellevue, members gathered for both a noontime lunch ‘n learn and a later solidarity break timed to coincide with the meeting in Lacey. At the Eastern Regional Office in Spokane, co-workers wore AFSCME green t-shirts and gathered at 3 p.m. to present a petition to ERO Director Grant Pfeifer.

    More than 13 percent of Ecology members took part in some part of these job actions, all on very short notice.

    “This is truly a great step for Ecology—let’s build on it,” said Scott Mallery, a Spokane Local 1221 Ecology member who chairs the Federation’s Natural Resources Policy Committee.


    A delegation of Transportation members today (June 6) presented the governor with a petition signed by more than 500 members calling for a fix to overtime calculations. That total is nearly a third of the statewide Highway Maintenance Bargaining Unit.

    Accepting the petitions on behalf of the governor was her chief of staff Cindy Zehnder.

    The petitions call on the governor to support the DOT workers “in our efforts to correct how overtime is calculated and that we be paid the correct hourly rate for such overtime.”

    Presenting the petition were: Rodney Jarrells, Local 1020, chair of the Federation’s Transportation Policy Committee; Federation Executive Board members Larry Flue, Local 1060, and Sue Tellesbo, Local 1020; Federation Field Rep Addley Tole; and Regional Field Supervisor Bob Keller.


    The special committee on Children’s Services social workers’ workload mandated this spring by the Legislature held its latest meeting June 3.

    A progress report is due to legislators by July 1. A final report is due Nov. 15.

    The special DSHS-WFSE Children’s Administration Ad Hoc Union-Management Communication Committee on Social Worker Workloads meets again June 24.

    The committee spent time reviewing findings of the workload study, including developing a task list for proposed elimination and/or options for elimination.

    The Legislature created the committee to prioritize social worker tasks and devise methods to relieve social workers of some lower-priority tasks. The discussions include use of contracting services and home support specialists.

    The Federation representatives on the committee are: Bob Tadlock, Region 1; Ron Smith, Region 2; M. Faye Anderson, Region 3; Robbie Chiles, Region 4; BaLinda McDonald, Region 5; Bob Mumford, Region 6; Randy Lorello, Federation regional field services supervisor; and Jeanine Livingston, the Federation’s contract compliance director.

    May 30, 2008


    The Federation General Government Bargaining Team held its latest negotiations with management Tuesday and Wednesday (May 28 and 29) in Lacey.

    During caucus time, a subcommittee reviewed the results of the bargaining priorities survey members completed and mailed back.

    The results were amazing.

    • The team expected to get the standard response of about 1 percent to 2 percent returns. Instead, nearly 20 percent of General Government members took the time to mark their top priorities—a total of 5,375.

    • Of those, several thousand took the additional time to write out other comments and suggestions on everything from bullying to workload to salary survey to problems with bad management. Those thousands of comments will be especially helpful to the team as they get into bargaining the tough issues.

    • In addition, dozens more surveys came in from worksite meetings and from the Federation website.

    The team wanted to pass along to all members who participated in the survey their strong appreciation for the guidance you’ve provided with these surveys and the comments you’ve provided.

    Apparently, many of you feel the same way. Here’s what one DSHS survey taker wrote:

    “This is the first time I’ve seen something like this (the survey) and I’ve been with WFSE for 23 years. I really appreciate it. Thanks!”

    Watch your mail in a week or so for a special bargaining update with more details on the survey and what you said to the team through your comments.

    The team found that 199 of you included comments about your retirement benefits. But under law, retirement benefits are one area that can’t be bargained. They remain a legislative budget issue. However, Federation President Carol Dotlich told the bargaining team yesterday she is forwarding those comments and suggestions to the union’s Retirement Committee for review and possible action. So your suggestions can’t be on the bargaining table, but they may end up as legislative proposals.

    As a reminder, the General Government Bargaining Team has a contractual obligation under Article 39.12 to honor confidentiality in negotiations. But overall, bargaining is moving along. Good progress is still being made. Your team is working hard. They caucused until 10 o’clock Tuesday night. They will be spending even more time in caucus outside of scheduled bargaining dates to work on counterproposals to bring back to management.

    In addition to the surveys, the other big help you’re providing is job actions:

    •Local 1326 staged job actions in Yakima Tuesday with L&I, Agriculture and Ecology members and Wednesday in Sunnyside.

    • Local 443 brought more support directly to the bargaining team Thursday.

    • And Local 843 held its latest job action Monday in Seattle.

    That’s when a group of Seattle DSHS Local 843 members took to the streets around Seattle’s Key Arena May 27 to build support for a strong contract.

    Local 843 member Romy Garcia told co-workers that their bargaining team was working hard for a fair contract, decent pay and affordable health care.

    Not so long ago, he said, state employees couldn’t bargain for these things.

    “It was like begging in the sense that we have to wait for the crumbs to fall off the table,” Garcia told his co-workers.

    Another Local 843 member, John Birnel, who sat on the first General Government Bargaining Team in 2004, explained how bargaining works and urged his co-workers to support the team “so if they need us in a big way we’re here to help.”

    May 16, 2008


    DSHS Children’s Services workers often get blamed when something goes wrong in high-visibility “critical incidents.”

    But in a commendable joint effort, the union and DSHS management in Region 5 (Pierce and Kitsap counties) have started joint trainings on protocols to follow in critical incidents.

    “After the outcry from our members that followed the recent critical incidents, management and the union worked hard in our union-management communication committees to come up with a way to address the needs of the staff in Region 5,” WFSE/AFSCME Field Representative Amy Achilles said.

    The joint training covers protocol, management’s roles and responsibilities, the peer support program, the rules around public disclosure and the role of WFSE/AFSCME in helping members through a critical incident.

    The first joint training took place May 9 in Bremerton.

    Two sessions were scheduled May 21 in Tacoma.

    “One member told us that it was amazing to see management and the union joining together to provide the staff with the information they need following a critical incident,” Achilles said.