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.