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 http://www.pebb.hca.wa.gov/.

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 www.wfse.org 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 www.wfse.org > 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 tim@wfse.org 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.