December 23, 2009

Legislators need to hear from you - and so do media

This is the last scheduled hotline message of 2009, so in between holiday festivities with friends and families, take a moment to prepare yourself mentally for a tough 2010 legislative session.

Messages to legislators:

You know from previous hotline messages the kinds of cuts being proposed in the governor’s “Book 1” all-cuts supplemental budget. She says she’ll come back in January with a Book 2 budget with new revenue and closed tax loopholes to mitigate the proposed cuts.

  • We need to continue to let legislators know the need for the Book 2 approach.
  • Call 1-800-562-6000 and give legislators the message:
Support a Book 2 budget that:

  • generates new revenue;
  • suspends targeted tax breaks;
  • and asks us where to find common sense efficiencies to protect public safety and quality services.
  • We need a budget that does no more harm and preserves the quality of life in Washington.
Resources for you:

This week, you’ll be getting your copy of the December union newspaper, the Washington State Employee, with more details on the budget situation. It includes a full directory of legislators, with their direct phone lines and e-mail addresses.

Also, look for updated resources and calls to action on our website at

Messages to media:

We need your help to counter anti-state employee editorials and letters to the editor.

Among the responses that have already run is Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux’s rebuttal to an editorial in the Tacoma News Tribune that blamed the economic mess on the misguided assumption you were unwilling to make sacrifices at the bargaining table—when the truth was you’ve sacrificed more than $1 billion in pay raises, health benefits, pension payments and jobs (through layoffs). To read Devereux’s response, see the link on our website at or go directly to the TNT at:

If  you see nasty editorials or letters that need rebutting, let us know at

Or write your own letter to the editor or respond if an online response box or blog is available. Each newspaper has a box on its editorial page explaining how to submit letters to the editor, how long and where to send or e-mail them. Typically, length must be no more than 200 to 250 words. For instance, The Olympian and the Tacoma News Tribune have a 250-word limit, while the Seattle Times, the Spokane Spokesman-Review and the Bellingham Herald limit letters to 200 words.

Come to Olympia:

Members are wasting no time bringing their message directly to legislators, in meetings in legislative districts and even to key legislators’ offices in Olympia. A delegation from Ahtanum View Corrections Center in Yakima (below) came to the Capitol Monday with the message about why AVCC should not be closed.

 The key is to have a constant presence in Olympia throughout the 60-day session that starts Jan. 11. To schedule your own lobby day, contact April Sims at 1-800-562-6002 or e-mail

A number of lobby days have already been set: Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day; Jan. 21, Conservative Caucus; Parks, Jan. 27; Next Wave, Jan. 29; and Public Employees/Revenue Lobby Day and Rally, Feb. 15 (Presidents’ Day).  
  • Register online here to attend one of these lobby days or choose your own date.

December 19, 2009

Union's response to attacks on you - in TNT

WFSE/AFSCME Executive Director Greg Devereux's "Viewpoint" guest column rebutting Wednesday's anti-state employee editorial in the Tacoma News Tribune ran in today's TNT.

Read it here.

(NOTE: Yes, the TNT edited the piece to misspell Devereux's last name.)

December 15, 2009

There he goes again; Senator Zarelli goes after step increases

Like autumn's falling leaves, Sen. Joseph Zarelli's perennial attack on your step increases has returned again for what seems like the umpteenth time.

Step increases are not pay raises. They are salary. They are part of the pay the state promises its employees when they come to work for the state.

Step increases in fact are an actuarial accounting tool that saves the state money. By phasing in pay over the first six years or so of a state worker's employment, the state saves from having to pay the full salary from Day 1. With the normal turnover of state employees, the state is never paying full salary for all its workers.

One way to think of it is step increases give the state a discount on paying its employees.

So these misguided perennial attacks on step increases and health benefits and more of what you get as a state employee deflect from the real issues.

Sen. Zarelli can cut your step increases, but that's no guarantee that will reverse the cuts to public safety in Community Corrections, or bolster the juvenile rehabilitation continuum of care, or stop the disabled and mentally ill from being summarily ejected from caring campuses like Frances Haddon Morgan Center or Rainier School or the PALS program at Western State Hospital.

So, we need to say to Sen. Zarelli and the rest of his colleagues in the Legislature, both Democrats and Republicans, move off the phony issue of step increases and instead support a Book 2 budget that:
  • generates new revenue;
  • suspends targeted tax breaks;
  • and asks us where to find common sense efficiencies to protect public safety and quality services.
  • We need a budget that does no more harm and preserves the quality of life in Washington.
Call 1-800-562-6000 and give legislators that message.

Rainier School meeting - site change!

Sen. Pam Roach has organized a major community meeting in Buckley tomorrow to support Rainier School, which is targeted for closure in the governor's supplemental budget. The site has been changed to Buckley City Hall in the city council chambers/senior center. So the Rainier School community meeting is 3 p.m., tomorrow, Dec. 16, at Buckley City Hall.

December 11, 2009

Overlooked in budget rollout: closure of Ahtanum View and Pine Lodge would be done outside of Legislative budget process

One of the overlooked secrets in this week's budget rollout is that the Department of Corrections actually intends to close Ahtanum View Corrections Center and Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women independent of what the Legislature does on the budget.

DOC intends to close Ahtanum View, in Yakima in March 2010, just three months away! Those elderly and medically fragile inmates would move to Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell.

Pine Lodge in Medical Lake would close in May 2010. The plan is for the inmates to be shipped across the state to Mission Creek in Belfair.

These expedited closures go beyond what the recent consultants report recommended. The Legislature ordered that report so it could review options. But DOC plans to move ahead before the Legislature has even weighed in.

DOC rationalizes that it can save $20.7 million by acting now. Waiting for the Legislature to act, assuming lawmakers would go along, would "sacrifice" $1.6 million.

This is not acceptable. The Legislature should review the closure plan as part of the supplemental budget process. And lawmakers should review them in the context of possible revenue increases and closing of tax loopholes aimed at preserving the quality services provided by institutions, including Pine Lodge and Ahtanum View.

So, call legislators at 1-800-562-6000 and urge them to demand that they review the closure plan for Ahtanum View Corrections Center and Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women before DOC unilaterally acts.

Meanwhile, members at both institutions are continuing their mobilization. We won't tip our hand here, but stay tuned for details.

December 9, 2009

SPECIAL UPDATE: Governor's all-cuts supplemental budget plan brutal; coalition opposes


    This is a special update of the Federation Hotline on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

   The governor today unveiled her constitutionally required supplemental budget with only existing revenue.
    It is a budget balanced on the backs of quality services and state employee families.

    It’s unacceptable and now we have to fight for an alternative budget that generates new revenue, closes some of the tens of billions in tax loopholes and asks Federation members on the front lines common sense ways to save money.

Even the Governor admits it’s an unacceptable budget and she will propose a “Book 2” budget once the Legislature convenes in January.

“I do not support this budget. ... for me it is unjust,” the Governor said.

The Governor said her “Book 2” budget in January will be a combination of revenue increases, closing tax loop holes and exemptions, and cuts.

So it’s not the end of the story. But while the governor can propose a “Book 2”alternative budget, that doesn’t mean the Legislature will go along. In fact, we fully expect lawmakers to propose even more drastic cuts. Already, Senate Republicans are talking about taking away your step increases.

The Governor finds some $850 million in budgeting techniques to help fill the expected $2.6 billion to $2.7 billion deficit. That leaves about a $1.8 billion deficit to fill under current projections.

So, here is where we stand in the “Book 1” all-cuts budget unveiled by the governor today:

• Cuts to your health benefits. Your current 12 percent of premium costs would remain, but with less money going into overall funding, you’d pay 12 percent of higher costs. Also, the governor’s all-cuts plan calls for higher deductibles, office visit fees and other point-of-service costs in 2011.

• Closing Frances Haddon Morgan Center in Bremerton by 2011, and closing Rainier School by 2014 - with one cottage at Rainier closing this biennium. In Developmental Disabilities, there would be an expansion of the successful State-Operated Living Alternative (SOLA) program, but not enough to offset reductions in the residential habilitation center program.

• Closing Ahtanum View Corrections Center in Yakima, which cares for elderly and seriously ill inmates, and Pine Lodge Corrections Center in Medical Lake.

• In Juvenile Rehabilitation, the governor proposes no institution closures but instead closures of cottages and elimination of beds at Naselle Youth Camp, Maple Lane and Green Hill Schools. The recent consultants report warned against any reductions. Under the Governor’s proposal, Naselle Youth Camp would be reduced to 53 residents; Maple Lane School would have one cottage cut; and Green Hill School would have two cottages closed.  The budget also assumes lower risk assessments to move more residents from institutions to group homes.

• Elimination of the Basic Health Plan and General Assistance-Unemployable, among others and “suspension” of the interpreters program in DSHS. The already poorly treated interpreters have been organizing for a union with the Federation.

• A cut of $100 million in higher education.

• A cut of 1,527 state employee positions, of which about 40% would be represented by the Federation.

• Some cuts in Community Corrections that still have to be analyzed.


To recap:

The governor issued her first version of the 2010 Supplemental Budget (“Book 1”) Dec. 9. It is an all-cuts budget, as required by law. But come January she will also issue a second version of the budget (“Book 2”) that lays out a plan for legislators to raise revenue.

Call to action:

Call 1-800-562-6000. Tell your legislators to support a Book 2 budget that:
• generates new revenue;
• suspends targeted tax breaks;
• and asks us where to find common sense efficiencies.
• We need a budget that does no more harm and preserves the quality of life in Washington.


December 8, 2009

Budget delayed a day

In deference to today's memorial service in Tacoma for the four slain Lakewood police officers, Gov. Chris Gregoire has delayed the unveiling of her 2010 supplemental budget proposal until tomorrow, Dec. 9. Call late Wednesday for a special update.

Reform I: Natural Resource agencies will share, but no mergers or consolidations in Governor's Reform Plan

Common sense prevailed and the final report on reforming natural resource agencies and the governor's resulting executive order do not include possible mergers or consolidations-ideas that had been floated since September.
The Federation's Natural Resources Task Force will keep an eye on what happens now after the Dec. 2 release of the report on transforming the delivery of natural resource services.

The changes that will come involve streamlining permitting, appeals and ending duplication in agency review processes. Several agencies will work together to integrate efforts to improve tourism and outdoor recreation. The Department of Natural Resources will provide maintenance and other services-except conservation management and land use policy--for 840,000 acres of land owned by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The six-month review involved agencies like Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, Parks and Recreation, Agriculture, Natural Resources and others.

While the governor rejected the costly and inefficient ideas to merge agencies, it doesn't mean the Legislature might not initiate some of those strategies.

That's why the WFSE/AFSCME Natural Resources Task Force has to remain vigilant, said its chair, Scott Mallery, an Ecology member in Spokane and member of Local 1221.

Read the press release here.

Reform II: Commerce, Information Services

The governor also announced plans Dec. 3 to reform certain functions involving the Department of Commerce and Department of Information Services.

The recommendations for Commerce include a list of proposed priorities, program consolidation and transfer of duties (mostly from Commerce to other agencies). For instance, emergency food assistance would move to DSHS, Agriculture and General Administration. Several housing programs would move to DSHS. Forensics sciences improvement would shift to the Washington State Patrol and the State Building Code Council would go to Labor and Industries.

Information Services would take over e-mail and server management for all agencies.

And 17 boards and commissions, most advisory boards for state prisons, would be eliminated.

But we have to be vigilant. Whenever there's talk of consolidation, the possibility of contracting out raises its ugly head.

The Commerce recommendations call for "increasing private community partnerships."

So there's a lot to watch out for in terms of safeguarding jobs and quality services.

Read the Commerce report here.

First results of WFSE/AFSCME initiated Washington Management Service transparency bill previewed

There weren't a lot of details, but a legislative committee got its first preview of the mandatory annual reporting on the size of the Washington Management Service and exempt service and the size and cost of any bonuses they receive.

The House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee on Dec. 4 got an update on the progress of those reports required by House Bill 2049, the 2009 law initiated by the Federation.

"Our participation in this legislation has been motivated by our frustration in trying to obtain data from all agencies about the growth of WMS/exempt personnel and the benefits they receive compared to our members," Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich told the panel. "To date, it has been a black box with a secret key we were not privy to.

"We have only been given a preview of the DOP (Department of Personnel) report, and have not had an opportunity to scrub it thoroughly. Initially, I would tell you that it looks like we may be moving in the right direction. We are excited about that."

Big turnout at forum to save Maple Lane school, other JRA facilities

More than 100 Local 1926 members and community supporters turned out for the Dec. 4 forum to save Maple Lane School-and other juvenile rehabilitation facilities expected to be offered up by the Legislature.

A consultants report mandated by the 2009 Legislature reluctantly called for the closure of Maple Lane School in south Thurston County, which houses about 190 juveniles and employs about 250 people.

Maple Lane School Local 1926 sponsored the forum. One major focus was rejecting "wedge efforts" to pit one community with a JRA facility against another. All four JRA facilities (Maple Lane, Green Hill School in Chehalis, Naselle Youth Camp and Echo Glen Children's Center in Snoqualmie) are vital parts of the continuum of care.

"It's a team and each has a role to play-and if you take one part away, you mess the whole thing up," Local 1926 President Chad Raish said.

"We get pitted against each other and it's tough," he said. "It wears on you. And it's tough to be a state worker. You hear the gloom and doom. And it affects us, but also the surrounding communities."

Legislators from both parties backed Maple Lane and all JRA facilities.

"You perform a vital role in our community and I want you to continue to do that," Sen. Dan Swecker, R-20th Dist. said.

"We've made investments, you've made the facility world-class, the study was flawed," Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-20th Dist. said. DeBolt is House minority leader.

Closing Maple Lane and sending the young offenders elsewhere is not an option, said Rep. Gary Alexander, R-20th Dist. Alexander is the top Republican on the budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

"The investments we've already made are significant," Alexander said. "The populations are so different. It simply doesn't make sense as a safety issue."

"You're a model across the country," said Rep. Tami Green, D-28th Dist.

Park Aides say YES to WFSE/AFSCME!

Park aides, a vital part of our state parks and recreation system, have chosen the Federation and will now become part of the existing Parks and Recreation Bargaining Unit.

A majority of the unit signed authorization cards for the Federation in the official "cross-check" tally conducted by the Public Employment Relations Commission Dec. 3.

Renton Technical College bargaining update

The bargaining team at Renton Technical College, which negotiates under a different law than for all other Federation members, has made good progress after their fifth session at the table.

Five more bargaining days have been set through January: Dec. 16, Jan. 5, Jan. 13, Jan. 20 and Jan. 26.

So far both sides have signed off on ground rules, the performance evaluation article, a memorandum of understanding for an "all employee in-service day" and a first-ever union-management communications committee article.

The team is now working on articles on professional development and layoff and recall.

December 3, 2009

Commerce report released

Defining Commerce: Next Steps in Our Mission to Grow and Improve Jobs A Report to the Governor and Legislature in Accordance with EHB 2242 (Chapter 565, Laws of 2009)

December 1, 2009

Governor set to unveil 2010 supplemental budget proposal December 8

The governor is scheduled to release her proposed 2010 Supplemental Budget proposal Dec. 8. By law, it must be balanced. So brace yourself for an all-cuts plan that will be brutal as the budget deficit has grown another $2.7 billion to $11.7 billion.

But that won't be the end of the story. There is a growing movement that the cuts already made earlier this year have gone too far. We've cut to the bone. Any more cuts are a tragedy waiting to happen.

Most believe that before the legislative session starts Jan. 11, the governor will issue a "Book 2" budget. This would be an alternative to an all-cuts budget.

So expect bad news Dec. 8. But then it's our job to create better news, and support a Book 2 budget that avoids deep cuts that will ruin the quality of life in this state.

Once the governor unveils her legally required all-cuts, balanced budget Dec. 8, it will be time to send a message to legislators that enough is enough.

This will be a time for innovative solutions-with shared sacrifices.

Because you've already sacrificed more than $1 billion in lost pay raises, higher health costs, layoffs and pension funding.

There is another way:
Generate new revenue.

Finding new revenue makes more sense than the drastic cuts needed to close the new budget gap. For instance, the state could close the Department of Corrections and cut all funding for the University of Washington and Washington State University--and still not get to $2.7 billion in savings.

End or temporarily suspend big tax breaks.

We sacrificed $98.5 billion in revenue for tax breaks the past two years. Some are good and fair and should remain untouched -- like the sales tax exemption on food. But the Department of Revenue has identified $14.8 billion in tax breaks that could easily be repealed or suspended.
Even a temporary suspension of a fraction of those tax breaks makes more sense than balancing the budget on the backs of the vulnerable, public safety and state employee families.

Ask US where to save.
You've already sacrificed through layoffs and higher workloads to balance the budget. It makes more sense to ask us where to save, like trimming the Washington Management Service. Why make us pay even more for health insurance? Why wipe out whole programs vital to public safety, higher education and care for the most vulnerable? We need to continue looking for common sense efficiencies.
What now?

To recap:

The governor will issue a first version of the 2010 Supplemental Budget Dec. 8. It will be an all-cuts budget, as required by law. But it's likely she will also issue a second version of the budget ("Book 2") that lays out a plan for legislators to raise revenue.

Call to action:

Call 1-800-562-6000. Tell your legislators to support a Book 2 budget that:
  • generates new revenue;
  • suspends targeted tax breaks;
  • and asks us where to find common sense efficiencies.
  • We need a budget that does no more harm and preserves the quality of life in Washington.

Ahtahum View Corrections Center members picket to save jobs and public safety, protest closure plan

Dozens of Ahtanum View Corrections Center and Local 1326 members staged a peaceful picket at the corner of North 40th and Summitview in Yakima Monday to save local jobs and protest a consultant's recommendation to close the unique facility caring for elderly and ill inmates.

At an impromptu rally, Ahtanum View member David Niles said the move to close the facility is pennywise and pound-foolish.

"Introducing these offenders into institutions with other offenders will create an environment far less humane than the model that currently exists," Niles said.

"Ahtanum View Corrections Center is an ADA facility. It will cost millions of dollars to our taxpayers in this depressed economy to replicate at another facility."

Sad Times

As we mourn the deaths of four brave public employees, the four Lakewood police officers ambushed and murdered Sunday, we remember two Federation members:
  • Michael Nelson, a former member of the WFSE/AFSCME Executive Board and longtime activist with Local 931 at Eastern Washington University, died Sunday afternoon after a long battle with cancer, according to the local's Tom McArthur. Nelson passed away about 5:30 p.m. at his home, surrounded by friends and family. Mike was also a former Local 931 president and served on the Higher Education Policy Committee, the Grievance Committee and the Finance Committee. Final arrangements are pending. The entire Federation family extends its condolences to Mike's family and Local 931.
  • Neal Richards, the Local 1556 DOT member killed on the job Nov. 19 after being struck by a falling branch, was laid to rest Saturday (Nov. 28) after the hearse carrying his body led a miles-long motorcade of DOT, Washington State Patrol, PUD and other vehicles driven by those who knew and respected him.
The motorcade stretched from the Drennan & Ford Funeral Home in Port Angeles to the Sequim View Cemetery some 16 miles away in Sequim.

Along the route, members of the public stopped to pay their respects, including two firefighters from the local fire department who parked their emergency vehicles, with red lights flashing, outside their station as the motorcade passed.

At the cemetery, the Rev. Art Morlin said final prayers over Richards's casket as hundreds, many wearing DOT orange armbands, gathered to say a final goodbye.
DOT's David Dye read letters of condolence from Gov. Chris Gregoire and DOT Secretary Paula Hammond.

Mourners then trekked back to the Port Angeles Elk Lodge for a memorial service and reception where they shared special remembrances.

November 19, 2009

WFSE/AFSCME mourns tragic death of Neal Richards

A graveside service will be 12 noon, this Saturday, Nov. 28, at Sequim View Cemetery, 1505 Sequim-Dungeness Way, Sequim. A memorial service will be 2 p.m., this Saturday, Nov. 28, at the Port Angeles Elks Lodge, 131 E. First St, Port Angeles. A reception follows.


  • The service will begin with a procession from Drennan and Ford Funeral Home at 260 Monroe Road in Port Angeles, traveling to the Sequim View Cemertery in Sequim. Those wishing to participate in the procession need to be onsite at 11 a.m. with an anticipated departure at 11:30.
  • The family advises that if you choose to send flowers, they may be sent to the Elks Lodge after 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28, so they can be included in the memorial service. Delivery address is 131 E. First St., Port Angeles, WA  98361.
  • A "Neal Richards Memorial Fund" has been set up at Bank of America - Washington. Contributions can be made at any branch.
UPDATE 11/23/09: 
Richards was honored by his Federation family Saturday 9Nov. 21) as some 500 Policy Committee delegates gathered in SeaTac.11/19/09: The entire Federation family mourns the death Nov. 19 of Port Angeles DOT member Neal Richards who was struck by a falling tree while clearing debris on U.S. Highway 101 near Indian Valley. Neal was secretary of Local 1556.

Gov. Chris Gregoire ordered flags on public property to be lowered to half-staff in memory of Richards starting Monday.

"This tragic event is a reminder of the danger many of our state workers are exposed to while doing their jobs and serving the people of our state," Gregoire said.

"We have lost a beloved brother, and his wife and two young sons have lost a wonderful, loving father," said WFSE
/AFSCME President Carol Dotlich.

Richards will be honored by his Federation family Saturday as some 500 Policy Committee delegates gather in SeaTac.

As we get more details, including services and any memorial funds, we will pass them along to you.

Photo courtesy of WSDOT.

To leave remembrances of Neal and condolences for his family and co-workers, we've set up a special blog where you can leave comments.

WFSE/AFSCME responses to governor

11/19/09: The union has responded to the governor's Oct. 22 call for the Federation "to step forward with ideas that would generate at a minimum $1 billion in budget reductions for the 2010 supplemental budget."  The governor had included that in her official response to the presentations made to her by members from several targeted programs during her Oct. 3 visit to the union convention. 

Read response here.

November 17, 2009

Bargaining team ballots being counted; results by Nov. 23rd

The ballot counts for the respective bargaining teams started Monday and results will be announced by next Monday, in accordance with the bargaining structure approved by your elected leaders. Watch the Federation website ( and hotline.

DOC cuts equal 'perfect storm' of crime, key senator says

The backlash against cuts in the community supervision of released felons performed by our Community Corrections members continues.

The latest is a guest editorial in today’s (Nov. 17) Seattle Times by state Sen. Mike Carrell, a member of the influential Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.

Carrell writes that the 2009 budget cuts, with more on the way in 2010, amount to a 180-degree turn from the supervision reform passed in 2007.

The 2007 reforms said “We intend to hold people coming out of prison more accountable for their actions,” Carrell said. “What has changed since then that makes felon accountability no longer a priority?

“Based on the changes made to public safety last session, the message now appears to be that community protection is less important because we have a budget problem.”

Carrell added: “I believe public safety should be the state’s foremost policy. The Legislature must consider other ways to deal with the state’s budget problem rather than putting our citizens at risk.”

Something to think about. You can read the full guest editorial here:

Politics at the Poodle Dog (Fife)

CNN's State of the Union broadcast from the Poodle Dog in Fife, WA

November 13, 2009

Webinar: What You Need to Know About H1N1 Flu

Forget the hype about H1N1 and let Diane Brown, an AFSCME workplace health and safety specialist, give you the latest information for you and your family. The webinars will be held Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 3:00pm (ET). Find out:
  • the difference between seasonal flu and H1N1
  • H1N1 symptoms and how it spreads
  • who is most at risk and how to protect yourself from being exposed
  • who should get vaccinated and possible side effects
Discuss workplace strategies such as how to protect yourself from the flu. Learn about policies that should be in place on your job.

Click here for more information and to sign up.

Open Enrollment for Health Insurance runs until Nov. 30

Open enrollment started Oct. 26 and runs until Nov. 30. 

Significant changes are coming to co-pays and deductibles, depending on your plan. This is your chance to switch to a new plan. 

Also be aware that Nov. 30 is the deadline to verify the eligibility of any family members you cover. The Public Employees Benefits Board sent out only one open enrollment notice, so don’t overlook the chance to change plans. 

Benefits fairs continue this next week in Bellevue (Nov. 13), Olympia (Nov. 18) and Tumwater (Nov. 12). For full information and a full list of benefits fairs, go to

November 12, 2009

Final Institutions Closures Report Issues


The state Office of Financial Management has released a consultant’s final report with possible huge cuts in juvenile rehabilitation, Corrections and residential habilitation center (DD) institutions.

Final recommendations from a consultant would close Maple Lane School, Ahtanum View Corrections Center, Frances Haddon Morgan Center by 2013, Rainier School by 2017, and decimate the other three residential habilitation centers.

The report came out Nov. 4.

It gets its first legislative review today before the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.

Obviously, the mobilization of members continues, but let’s not tip our hat to management here. Stay tuned.

November 5, 2009

House Health Care Vote: In WA, Who's on Board?

From the Public News Service-WA, November 05, 2009

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Today is a "Day of Action" for union members around the country to push for U.S. House approval of HR 3962, the "Affordable Health Care for America Act." The House version of health care reform may come up for a vote as early as Friday.........

Use the link below to listen (or read) the story - then make the call.

Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories:

October 27, 2009

Call NOW! Urge a YES VOTE on the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962)

Call NOW!   888-460-0813

Urge your representative to vote YES on the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962)
  • Tell your member of Congress we need health care reform that doesn't tax our benefits, holds employers accountable and includes a robust public option.
  • Calls are especially needed now to Representatives Brian Baird (3rd CD) and Adam Smith (9th CD).

  • The House is expected to vote as early as Friday, Nov. 6. 
  • A National Day of Action has been scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 5.

Bargaining Team ballots in the mail; due back November 13

The ballots for positions on the Federation's 2011-2013 bargaining teams are in the mail and are due back Nov. 13.

In General Government, elections will be among Federation members by their respective policy group:
  • Corrections - Two candidates are vying for one seat.
  • Transportation - Five candidates are running for two seats.
  • Employment Security - Only two candidates were nominated for the two seats, so they have  won by acclamation: Kim Arnold and Steve Pointec.
  • Labor and Industries - Six candidates are running for two seats.
  • Natural Resources - Eleven are running for two seats.
  • Human Services - Seventeen are running for four positions.
  • Institutions - Thirteen are running for four seats.
  • Miscellaneous - Fifteen candidates are vying for three seats.
In the Higher Education Coalition - the group of 12 Community Colleges and three four-year institutions, there is one big change this bargaining cycle. The administration at Western Washington University has opted out and will bargain separately this round. Meanwhile, for the first time, Eastern Washington University will be in the coalition; that under the law is via a decision made by the EWU administration.

Here is a rundown of the Higher Education Coalition elections:
  • Community Colleges of Spokane - Five candidates are vying for three seats.
  • Everett CC - One nomination came in for two positions, so Max Phipps has won by acclamation. The WFSE president will appoint someone to fill the vacant seat.
  • Green River CC -- - One nomination came in for two positions, so Todd Henderson has won by acclamation. The WFSE president will appoint someone to fill the vacant seat.
  • Seattle Community College District - Three nominations for three positions, so Betsy McConnell-Gutierrez, Milton Smith and Matthew Davenhall have won by acclamation.
  • Shoreline CC - One nomination for one position, so Sam Bess has won by acclamation.
  • Tacoma CC - Two nominations for two seats, so Angie Simpson and Laurie Harmon have won by acclamation.
  • The Evergreen State College - Three nominations for three seats, so Kirk Talmadge, Lana Brewster and Erik Carlson have won by acclamation.
  • Eastern Washington University - Nine candidates are vying for three seats on the coalition team.
  • Whatcom CC - One nomination for one seat, so Amy Weaver has won by acclamation.
  • No nominations came in from six coalition institutions, so the WFSE/AFSCME president will also appoint to fill those vacancies: Bellevue CC (1); Central Washington University (2); Centralia CC (1); Lower Columbia College (2); Peninsula College (1); and South Puget Sound CC (2).
Washington State University - One nomination came in for nine positions, so Eric Needham has been elected by acclamation and the WFSE/AFSCME president will appoint the remaining eight vacancies.

Western Washington University - Six nominations came in for nine seats, so Mary Ann Armstrong, Ron Rawls, Brandon Taylor, Timothy Harvey, Steven Vanko and Josef Bailey have all been elected by acclamation. The WFSE/AFSCME president will appoint the remaining three vacancies.

University of Washington - The 17-member UW Bargaining Team is elected by geographic location based on the formula set out in the Local 1488 constitution. The upshot is there will be only one election because no one for the other positions was nominated or there were fewer nominations than seats available, so the nominees are elected by acclamation. The one election will be among four nominees for two seats allotted to the UW Main Campus Trades Bargaining Unit. Elected by acclamation are: Paul Bentson (nominated for one of Harborview Medical Center's two at-large seats); Joe Davenport (nominated for one of two UW Main Campus at-large positions); John Miller (the sole nominee for UW Bothell's one seat); Thomas Fowler (nominated for one of the UW Medical Center's two at-large positions); and Remedios Peters (nominated for one the UW Main Campus's two custodian seats). The WFSE/AFSCME president will appoint the remaining vacancies: Harborview at-large (1); HMC Public Safety Officers (1); UW Medical Center at-large (1); UW Tacoma (1); PAC Lab/Friday Harbor/Consolidated Laundry (1); UW Main Campus at-large (1); UW Main Campus Library (2); UW Main Campus custodians (1).

Pushback against DOC cuts builds

Just about everyone now acknowledges that the cuts in DOC Community Corrections are a threat to public safety and other alternatives are needed to avoid what the Seattle P-I reported "are a tragedy waiting to happen."
The P-I, KIRO radio in Seattle, the Seattle Times, KHQ TV in Spokane and other media outlets have shed light on the harmful DOC cuts. It shows they will not be swept under the rug and the public is beginning to realize the billions in cuts imposed by the Legislature are harming them personally.

The P-I reports that since July, the Department of Corrections has ended community supervision of nearly 10,000 offenders deemed low-risk. DOC Secretary Eldon Vail told the P-I that translated to 60 layoffs so far in Community Corrections, "but we're going to get to about 250 layoffs in Community Corrections within the next month or so."

Further cuts may be coming as the state faces another $1.7 billion deficit.

But other sensible solutions are entering the public debate. The P-I reported one source as saying "there are billions spent for outdated tax loopholes, and eliminating or delaying those would be better than trimming from a Corrections staff that's already down to the bone."

The other cuts have come from Senate Bill 5288, "the legislation that ended the supervision of thousands of offenders (and) also reduced the community-custody terms for higher risk offenders, such as sexual predators and people convicted of violent crimes," the P-I reported.

On top of pressure from the union, Seattle City Council members, five area mayors, five county sheriffs, Seattle's police chief and the U.S. marshals recently signed a joint letter to Gov. Chris Gregoire and Vail to protest some of the cuts.

Vail told the P-I: "We try to make the best decisions we can to do the least damage to public safety." He added: "I am pretty concerned about, if there is another round of reductions that we can't yet articulate or identify, because we are really down now to supervising - particularly in Community Corrections - the highest risk offenders. I don't know who else to get rid of."

Open Enrollment for Health Insurance

OPEN ENROLLMENT FOR HEALTH INSURANCE started Oct. 26 and runs until Nov. 30. Significant changes are coming to co-pays and deductibles, depending on your plan. This is your chance to switch to a new plan. Also be aware that Nov. 30 is the deadline to verify the eligibility of any family members you cover. The Public Employees Benefits Board sent out only one open enrollment notice, so don't overlook the chance to change plans. Benefits fairs start Oct. 27 in Cheney, the UW and Spokane. For full information and a full list of benefits fairs, go to


King County election officials have laid out the ballot there in a way that it might be easy to overlook Initiative 1033. It appears in the lower left corner below instruction panels. So, please don't overlook it. Just about all labor, business and community groups recommend a vote of NO on 1033 because it will add to the deficit and force even deeper budget cuts.

October 23, 2009

Movement to Save RHC's Rolls into Buckley at Rainier School Town Hall Meeting

The move to close Rainier School in Buckley and four other centers like it is part of a political agenda to wipe out residential habilitation centers—a ruse that will actually drive up the deficit and kill some of this state’s most vulnerable citizens.

That’s the consensus from legislators, parents and Federation members at a standing-room only town hall meeting to save Rainier School Oct. 22.

More than 80 Local 491 members, parents, local elected officials, firefighters and community supporters joined with two key legislators the town hall meeting in the Buckley City Council chambers.

The Save Rainier School town hall meeting followed by three days the all-day picketing of the governor’s Spokane regional office by more than 100 Lakeland Village Local 573 members.

It’s all part of a pro-residential habilitation center (RHC) alliance to fight the recent consultant’s report recommendation to close Rainier School and Frances Haddon Morgan Center and decimate by 90 percent Lakeland Village, Fircrest School and Yakima Valley School.

Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-31st Dist., who organized the Rainier School town hall meeting, made it clear the fight is not just a local fight, but also a statewide mobilization.

“All the RHCs are targeted for termination,” Hurst told the standing-room only crowd in the Buckley City Council chambers.

Hurst’s seatmate, Rep. Dan Roach, R-31st Dist., warned of a “domino effect” that “if one (RHC) goes, they’ll all go.”

They handed out a call to action to generate letters to the governor, the state budget director and the top leaders in the state House and Senate (see below).

The legislators and others in the audience were disturbed by an Oct. 19 news report in which the governor, commenting on the adverse reaction to the consultant’s report, appeared to suggest one institution should be played off against another.

“The message to us to not cut anything really is not helpful,” The Olympian quoted Gov. Chris Gregoire. “We need to be working together and figuring out how to get from where we are to the end….”

The governor continued: “Rather than tell me it’s not a good study … tell me what a good study would show. What should we close? The days of saying, ‘this is bad,’ ‘shouldn’t do that,’ ‘don’t cut this,’ and so on are gone. … This is a day of, you know: ‘This is not the right thing to cut; you should cut over here.’ ‘This is not the right thing to close; you should close over here.’ That’s the dialogue we have to engage in right now.”

Meanwhile, at the Rainier School town hall meeting, Hurst and Roach made up a high-powered bi-partisan team that is crying foul on the consultant’s report and the real motives behind the push to close Rainier and the other RHCs.

The 31st District representatives said the forces that hate RHCs have seized on the economic downturn to wage a political fight to close the facilities under the guise of fiscal restraint.

“This is not about people and finances…,” Hurst said. “They (the anti-RHC forces) believe they should not exist.”

When California drastically downsized and forced the severally developmentally disabled residents into the community, the mortality rate shot up 66 percent, Roach said.

“That is something they (the anti-RHC forces) can’t ignore,” Roach said.

Closure won’t save any money, but will actually cost at least $1.6 million a year in transition costs, they said.

“There is no monetary gain on the state level, it costs more money and it will cost lives,” Roach said.

Local 491 President Joy Cage said the argument that RHC residents need to be in the “community” is misleading.

“Rainier School is not an institution, it’s a community,” Cage said.

Rainier School residents and those at all RHCs are valued and accepted in their community, she said.

“They got dignity and they got respect in the community of Rainier School,” Cage said.

The consultant’s report advocates moving most residents into a community network that right now doesn’t exist. “We’re concerned about people’s health and safety,” Cage said.

 “It’s not about money, it’s about what’s going to happen to our people in the community,” Cage added.

Parent Bob Gee said his daughter Angela has lived at Rainier School for 30 of her 46 years.

“I want my daughter to have consistent care,” he said.

He scoffed at the anti-RHC forces that distort the Americans with Disabilities Act to imply that those like Angela face discrimination because they choose to live at Rainier School.

“I would dare you to ask Angela if she feels discriminated against,” Gee said.

He said Rainier School and the other RHCs have underutilized capacity to provide respite care for home-cared disabled clients so parents and family caregivers can get a breather.


Here is the call to action issued by Rep. Hurst and Rep. Roach at the Oct. 22 Save Rainier School Town Hall meeting. We’ve modified it to apply to all RHCs because of the town hall meeting’s consensus that if one RHC goes, they all go in a domino effect.

Get the word out!

It’s important that we get the word out about protecting Rainier School, Frances Haddon Morgan Center, Lakeland Village, Fircrest School and Yakima Valley School. Everyone needs to contact these four people and let them know, in your own words, what these RHCs mean to you, and how the closure would affect you, those you love, and your community.

A personal letter goes a long way, and is by far the most impactful way to get your message through. Although even an e-mail can make an impact if it is written with a strong, heart-felt message, a personal letter is always the best. Try to encourage your friends and family members to send individual letters as well.

Victor Moore, Director
Washington State Office of Financial Management
P.O. Box 43113
Olympia, WA  98504-3113

Governor Christine Gregoire
P.O. Box 40002
Olympia, WA  98504-0002

House Speaker Frank Chopp
P.O. Box 40600
Olympia, WA  98504-0600

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown
P.O. Box 40403
Olympia, WA  98504-0403

October 20, 2009

Rainier School Town Hall Meeting Thursday

State Rep. Christopher Hurst of the 31st District on Thursday holds a town hall meeting in Buckley to mobilize opposition to the proposed closure of Rainier School. The town hall meeting will be 7:30 p.m., this Thursday, Oct. 22, at the Buckley City Council Chambers, Multipurpose Room, 811 Main St., Buckley. Fellow 31st District Rep. Dan Roach, Buckley Mayor Pat Johnson and other elected officials will be on hand. Please attend!

BULLETIN Regarding Electronic Home Monitoring Issue in DOC

The Federation and its Corrections team in no way bargained to implement the Electronic Home Monitoring policy. 

In fact, a demand to bargain its impacts was filed Sept. 14.  A bargaining session on that issue is set for Oct. 21. 

In filing the demand the bargain, the union made it clear it did not appreciate management representations that somehow the union and its DOC team OK’d the controversial policy. 

The union did take part in informal discussions and has attempted to get the issue addressed at statewide union/management communications meetings. In fact, DOC an Oct. 15 memo to staff acknowledged negotiations did not take place.

Lakeland Village workers picket governor's Spokane office Monday in wake of closure report


    State direct care workers for some of this state's most profoundly developmentally disabled citizens at Lakeland Village will picket Gov. Chris Gregoire's Spokane office Monday in the wake of a consultant's report calling for a radical downsizing at the Medical Lake facility.

    The members of Local 573 of the Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME will picket from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., this Monday, Oct. 19, at the Governor's Eastern Washington Regional Office, W. 1611 Indiana in Spokane. Brief remarks and a march will take place starting at about Noon.

    The consultant's report released Oct. 14 would shrink Lakeland Village from its current capacity of 238 residents to only 26 over the next eight years. Lakeland and counterparts in Selah and north of Seattle would become smaller skilled nursing facilities only.

    The Medical Lake City Council on Oct. 6 officially opposed the closure or downsizing of Lakeland Village and the nearby Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women. The consultant's report did not recommend any further reductions at Pine Lodge, but community members still believe legislators may target it.

    This consultant’s report was mandated by the Legislature to recommend a plan to cut 1,580 beds in Corrections, 235 beds in Juvenile Rehabilitation and 250 beds in the residential habilitation centers. The consultants were Christopher Murray and Associates.


October 14, 2009

Draft report proposes huge cuts in DOC, JRA, RHCs; get calls and e-mails in

BULLETIN 10/14/09

Draft recommendations would close Maple Lane School in JRA, Ahtanum View in Corrections, Frances Haddon Morgan Center by 2013, Rainier School by 2017, decimate rest of RHC's.



The state Office of Financial Management today released a consultant’s draft report and asked for public comment on possible huge cuts in juvenile rehabilitation, Corrections and residential habilitation center (DD) institutions.

The draft report floats the idea of:
  • Closing Maple Lane School, a juvenile rehabilitation center in south Thurston County.
  • Closing Ahtanum View Corrections Center in Yakima County where Federation members work with geriatric and seriously ill prisoners.
  • Close Frances Haddon Morgan Center, an RHC in Bremerton, by 2013.
  • Close Rainier School, an RHC in Buckley, by 2017.
  • Decimate the remaining RHCs (Fircrest School in Shoreline, Lakeland Village in Medical Lake and Yakima Valley School in Selah) by making them skilled nursing facilities only with a much smaller number of beds.
The draft report does not include the expected huge costs of transitioning and bulking up other institutions to take up the load.

But OFM is putting out the draft report for public comment. It is imperative that you follow the link here and voice your strong opposition to all the draft recommendations. Don’t get fooled by the public relations ploy of using public comments as an end-run around the fact the entire report is flawed and off base.
  1. SUBMIT FEEDBACK AND IDEAS HERE.  The public comment period is very short, only one week, until Oct. 21. Then, final recommendations will be made to the governor and Legislature Nov. 1. This consultant’s report was mandated by the Legislature to recommend a plan to cut 1,580 beds in DOC, 235 beds in Juvenile Rehabilitation and 250 beds in the residential habilitation centers. The consultants were Christopher Murray and Associates.

  2. THEN, MAKE THE CALL.  Call the governor and your three legislators at 1-800-562-6000 on your personal phone and own time and tell her:

    “The consultants hired under the proviso in Section 130 of the state budget got it wrong. Reject their recommendations. Find another way. Save Maple Lane. Save Ahtanum View. Save the RHCs.”

All members should call because an injury to one is an injury to all.

Members are already mobilizing, for instance with Maple Lane School Local 1926 and Eastern State Hospital Local 782 both meeting tonight. Lakeland Village Local 573 will picket the governor’s Spokane office all day Monday. 


Feasibility Study for the Closure of State Institutional Facilities (DRAFT REPORT)
Check back here for regular updates. Send those e-mails. Make those calls.

UPDATE: 2:45 P.M. 10/14/09:

In the JRA report, the consultants conclude (pp. 25-26) that "the data do not support closure of either Green Hill or Maple Lane." They say closing either would not allow enough capacity in the rest of the system to handle the youthful offenders. But they include the recommendation to close Maple Lane because it gets to the numbers mandated by the Legislature. "While we want to make it clear that we think this is a bad idea, in conformance with the proviso, the final report will include a plan to close Maple Lane School."

ALSO: House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt calls into question JRA study.

In the DOC report, while AVCC is targeted for closure, Pine Lodge is not. The consultants say (p. 13) there is no ability to further reduce beds of female offenders. "The population forecast and the projected future need for beds by security level does not permit closing additonal beds." In fact, one of the options considered was reopening recently closed beds at Pine Lodge. But they instead recommend the new unit at Mission Creek to accommodate additional minimum security beds for female offenders.
RHCs: One recommendation is to immediately place children currently living at the RHCs into state-operated children's intensive care homes, meaning a transfer of current Fircrest staff and resources to a community supported living setting.

By 2013, FHMC would close, eight cottages at Rainier would close, two cottages at Fircrest, two cottages at Lakeland and one cottage at Yakima Valley. By June 30, 2019, the RHC capacity would be Fircrest 48, Lakeland 26 and Yakima Valley 38. FHMC and Rainier would be closed by then.


October 13, 2009

GA Motor Pool Workers Say YES to WFSE/AFSCME!

Another group of state employees now has contract protections with the Federation.

Non-supervisory workers in the Motor Pool Section of the state Department of General Administration have chosen the Federation as their union.

Nine of the 13 employees signed authorization cards. That was enough to win union representation under "cross-check" rules.

The Public Employment Relations Commission conducted the tally Oct. 8.

Don't Delay in Preparing for Possible Green River Valley Flooding, Swine Flu Outbreak

GREEN RIVER VALLEY: State, local and federal officials are coordinating plans for possible winter flooding in the Green River Valley below the Howard Hanson Dam.

Some 800 WFSE/AFSCME families potentially sit in harm's way in the following zip codes: 98001, 98002, 98055, 98030, 98031, 98057, 98092 and 98188.

Several state offices, including three DSHS CSOs and a Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Office, also sit in the flood zone.

Your agency may have specific flood plans. But a good source of general flood information is on the state Emergency Management Website at

And you can help fund the Federation-inspired relief fund set up through the Washington State Labor Council, the Foundation for Working Families. A portion of profits from the sale of union-produced coffee goes to the Foundation for Working Families. To find out more, go to and look for the "flash" panel on the home page.

SWINE FLU: Good information on precautions to take is also available on the state Emergency Management Website at

It's Coming Down to the Wire to Defeat Initiative 1033 and Approve Referendum 71

Absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 election are due out Friday. With most counties now voting by absentee ballot, remember that the Federation is recommending a No vote on Initiative 1033, Tim Eyman's latest ballot measure to further choke off funding for the services you provide. Times are tough enough. Let's not make them worse. Go to for more information on why Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 is a bad idea.

Also don't forget: The Federation is recommending a Yes (Approve) vote on Referendum 71, what the Tacoma News Tribune today says is simply the "completion of the state's incremental march toward a robust domestic partnership law." In endorsing Ref. 71, the TNT said a yes vote is a vote to "affirm lawmakers' work to complete the job they started two years ago." Don't get caught up in the rhetoric. Ref. 71 is about protecting basic civil rights, and civil rights are fundamental workplace, lunchbox issues.

Renton Technical College Kicks Off Bargaining with Support Event

Members at Renton Technical College, who bargain under a different law than other Federation members, kicked off their first formal day of bargaining Monday with a lunch-and-learn event and walk around campus showing AFSCME green.

Leadership Development Workshop for Unionists of Color Nov. 7

Our workforce and our labor movement are made up of many different faces and we are strongest when we speak with one voice. To rebuild our strength, the labor movement must embrace and reflect the diversity of our workforce and our membership. We must provide our members with the leadership skills to restore opportunity and justice at our workplaces and in society.

To this end, the Diversity Committee of the Washington State Labor Council and the Labor Education and Research Center of The Evergreen State College invite all WSLC-affiliated unions to send rank-and-file and staff members to a Leadership Development Workshop for Unionists of Color to be held Saturday, Nov. 6 at South Seattle Community College's Georgetown Campus, Bldg. C, 6737 Corson Ave. S.

Come learn about the political economy of Washington state, changing workforce demographics, leadership qualities and skills, lessons from state labor history, and more. Registration is $75 per participant, which includes lunch and materials.

Download a flier/registration form at

For more information, contact Juan Jose Bocanegra at 360-918-2726.

October 6, 2009

CONVENTION NEWS: Delegates give Gregoire earful as Budget Office recommendations on closures loom

The legislatively mandated study of possible closures and cuts is due out any day, but delegates to last weekend's 2009 Federation State Convention wasted no time in giving visiting Gov. Chris Gregoire an earful.

News reports say institutions that could be closed include: Green Hill School and Maple Lane School (both juvenile rehabilitation); Pine Lodge and Ahtanum View (Corrections institutions whose employees are represented by the Federation); and, possibly, all or parts of an as-yet-unidentified residential habilitation center or centers (RHCs).

The report is due from the Office of Financial Management. Over the past few months, consultants writing the report have met with Federation members to hear why institutions should not be closed. But some of the possible recommendations leaked out to the Seattle Times.

Meanwhile, Federation members used last weekend's convention to mobilize against current and future cuts, closures and consolidations.

Groups of members and delegates held a number of caucuses to continue the "boots on the ground" strategy of fighting the cuts. Those caucuses included: The member steering committee watchdogging the plan to start two pilot privatization projects in DSHS Child Welfare Services; juvenile rehabilitation; residential habilitation centers; and DSHS Community Services Division and call centers.

Delegates also unanimously passed a resolution to use "any and all remedies" to stop the closure of Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women and other state institution.

Members of Local 573 at Lakeland Village, an RHC in Medical Lake, announced plans for a major job action Oct. 19 in Spokane.

With all this going on, the governor herself heard first-hand the folly of the institutions closures and other cuts.

Seven delegates from targeted programs escorted the governor to the floor of the convention hall at a SeaTac hotel, then individually welcomed her with pleas for her to stop the bleeding.

Greeting the governor were: Julianne Moore from DD/RHCs; Ursula Petters from Child Welfare Services; Alice Rogers from Corrections; Greg Davis from Mental Health; Pam Carl from Higher Education; Gabe Hall from Juvenile Rehabilitation; and Scott Mallery from Natural Resources.

They politely welcomed the governor and asked Gregoire, "with all due" respect, to recognize the harm of cuts, consolidation and contracting out.

WFSE/AFSCME President Carol Dotlich presented the governor with hundreds of letters from members and delegates respectfully pleading with her to find alternatives to an "all cuts" approach to filling another $1 billion deficit.

"Please find another way to preserve these vital, quality services for the public," Moore told the governor in her Oct. 3 welcome.

"Please join us in restoring these cuts before a tragedy occurs," Rogers said.

"The cuts are a recipe for disaster," Hall said.

Gregoire responded, "I get it," but added, "You'll have to tell me where to cut."

Delegates quickly shouted, "Administration!" and "WMS!"

She still praised WFSE/AFSCME members. Delegates sought her out to shake her hand at the end of the cordial exchange.

"I know I am proud to have you as my partners," she said.

Gregoire said the past legislative session was "ugly, ugly, ugly....It was the worst legislative session I'd ever seen."

"We're going to get through these tough times, but it isn't going to be easy," Gregoire added.

Read the Convention Daily here: FRI | SAT | SUN

CONVENTION NEWS: Henricksen elected WFSE VP

The Federation may be the only AFSCME council with an all-female slate of top officers.

Sue Henricksen, a DD case resource manager in Tacoma and president of Local 53, got convention delegates' nod as vice president.

She joins re-elected incumbents President Carol Dotlich (Local 793, Western State Hospital, Lakewood), Secretary Lee Novak (Local 1400, Community Corrections, Longview/Kelso) and Treasurer Rosemary Sterling (Local 1381, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham).

Henricksen prevailed in a two-way race with incumbent Vice President Bill Copland of Local 1253.

Dotlich won re-election as president in her race against John Frazier, UW Local 1488.

Novak won a run-off in the secretary race against Steve McGillis, Local 313. The other nominee, Shellie Savage (Local 443), finished third in the first round of balloting.

Sterling was the sole nominee for WFSE/AFSCME treasurer. She was declared re-elected by acclamation.

The four officers will serve until the next WFSE/AFSCME convention in 2011.

Call today on the public option!

If you haven't gotten the text message from us, please call 1-877-264-4226 today to tell our two U.S. Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, to support the public option in any final health reform bill.

September 29, 2009

Appeals Court Sides with Federation, Strikes Down Contracting Out Rules

The state Court of Appeals has agreed with the Federation and struck down three of the state's contracting out rules.

The court upheld the 2008 ruling made by a Thurston County Superior Court judge on the lawsuit against the rules filed by the Federation.

The rules came from the Department of General Administration.

But the appeals court said GA exceeded its authority when it wrote the restrictive rules about which employees could offer alternatives to contracting out or bid for projects.

The Legislature in 2002 said employees whose positions or work would be "displaced" would be allowed to offer alternatives. But the appeals court ruled those rules restricted the opportunity only to employees who lose their jobs or who would be reassigned.

The state may appeal to the state Supreme Court.

WFSE/AFSCME State Convention This Weekend

The Federation's biennial state convention is this weekend. You can get pre-convention details on our website at > Convention 2009.  Check there for details during the weekend and after.

September 22, 2009

Member Outrage Triggers Possible Changes After Escape, Capture of Eastern State Hospital Criminally Insane Murderer

Members in mental health have united in sharing the public's outrage over the escape of an Eastern State Hospital criminally insane murderer during a "field trip" to the Spokane County Fair Sept. 17.

Before we do that recap, the latest: The union and DSHS on Sunday agreed to a member task force for the purpose of reviewing and revising forensic unit policies and procedures at Eastern State Hospital and Western State Hospital.

Now, the detailed recap:

When state officials and media outlets started the typical scapegoating of Federation members given an impossible job, Eastern State Hospital members struck back.

Working with the state union, they released the following statement on Sept. 18:

The line workers at Eastern State Hospital share the public's outrage over the escape of Phillip A. Paul at the Spokane County Interstate Fair on Thursday.

In the Phillip Paul incident, the hospital workers on the scene at the fair, as they were instructed to do, notified their chain of command within two to three minutes of discovering Paul's escape. It was the administration in Medical Lake that waited some two hours to notify law enforcement authorities.

The ward workers, members of Local 782 of the Washington Federation of State Employees, have repeatedly over the years opposed the administration policies and practices that allow the kinds of "field trips" like the one Paul took to the fair. They believe he was an extreme escape risk and the administration should never have allowed him on the field trip. The workers have unsuccessfully fought to stop the outings for murderers, rapists and pedophiles committed to the hospital as criminally insane.

Media outlets across the country carried the members' concerns, running stories with headlines like this: "Wash. Union says it warned about field trip danger." Greg Davis, an Eastern State Hospital worker and president of Local 782 in Medical Lake, appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday morning (Sept. 21).

The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported Sept. 18:

The forensic ward, known as "2 South 1" is inhabited by mental patients who have been determined by the courts to be not guilty of serious crimes by reason of insanity, or people judged to be incapable of assisting in their own defense.

"He was not the only murderer at the fair yesterday," said Greg Davis, president of Washington Federation of State Employees, Local 782, which represents Eastern State Hospital workers.

Davis said hospital workers "have repeatedly over the years opposed administration policies and practices that allow the kinds of field trips like the one Paul took to the fair."

The union local president said hospital workers accompanying the patients on the field trip notified their superiors at the hospital "within two to three minutes" of discovering Paul's escape.

"It was the administration in Medical Lake that waited some two hours to notify law enforcement authorities," Davis said....

Davis, the local union representative, said that field trips to such public events as fairs, baseball games, circuses and the Ice Capades routinely include "murderers, rapists and pedophiles committed to the hospital as criminally insane."...

"Several of my members were surprised that Mr. Paul was approved to go to the fair," Davis said. Wilson, head of the hospital, said Paul had been "a fairly model patient." But court documents dated Sept. 4 show the judge overseeing Paul's case continues to harbor reservations over his progress, concluding that Paul still represents "a threat to public safety, because, regardless of the reasons, his condition has deteriorated."

Meanwhile, reporters in Western Washington began wondering if the same concerns existed at Western State Hospital in Lakewood. There followed another series of reports about gaps there. Here's part of the story that appeared on KOMO TV in Seattle:

At Western State Hospital in Lakewood, security guards and mental health workers say the answer is easy: Paul should never have been allowed on a field trip in the first place.

They say no one should be allowed out of the criminal side of the hospital without first consulting them.

"I think the message is that it's a grievous mistake not to engage the workers who actually do the hands-on work," said Carol Dotlich, president of the Washington Federation of State Employees

Last week, at Western, a resident of the criminal unit managed to walk out of the locked facility, but was later found at a nearby mall.

The union says both escapes come at a time the state is cutting security positions -- three from Western's force of 25.

"It was a perfect example of staff being distracted by a manager and one of the supervisors being gone to a layoff briefing of all things; how ironic," said hospital union president Craig Gibelyou.

The bottom line is safe places to work and safe communities. Maybe now the bosses will listen.

Phillip Paul was recaptured Sunday near Goldendale. He's back at Eastern State Hospital.

State Task Force on Child Welfare Privatization Pilots Meets

The state Transformation Design Committee, the formal name for the task force on the legislatively mandated two pilot privatization projects in Child Welfare Services, met Sept. 16 and 17.

The committee dealt with many technical issues. But red flags went up again when DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus addressed the task force. She said she'd gotten the governor's approval to "be bold" and "innovative" with her intentions to "increase capacities in the communities" and "incorporate greater stakeholder input." Reading between the lines, that was taken by some to mean the state is interested in privatizing more of DSHS Children's Administration than just the two pilot demonstration sites in Child Welfare Services.

That has led to an urgent meeting of the Federation's TDC Steering Committee to continue working on "next step strategies." That meeting will be held during the Federation's state convention next week. The meeting will be 11 a.m., Friday, Oct. 2, at the SeaTac Doubletree Hotel in the Cascade 13 room.

Renton Tecnical College Bargaining Update

Members at Renton Technical College, which negotiates under a different collective bargaining law than other state employees represented by the Federation, have set bargaining dates.

The RTC team recently completed a two-day training on Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB). The first bargaining session took place last night, Sept. 21. They agreed on ground rules and set bargaining dates through December: Oct. 12 and 22; Nov. 2 and 16; and Dec. 3 and 15.

September 21, 2009

Criminally Insane Killer Captured

The Washington Federation of State Employees today released the following statement on Friday, September 18th:
The line workers at Eastern State Hospital share the public’s outrage over the escape of Phillip A. Paul at the Spokane County Interstate Fair on Thursday.

In the Phillip Paul incident, the hospital workers on the scene at the fair, as they were instructed to do, notified their chain of command within two to three minutes of discovering Paul’s escape. It was the administration in Medical Lake that waited some two hours to notify law enforcement authorities.

The ward workers, members of Local 782 of the Washington Federation of State Employees, have repeatedly over the years opposed the administration policies and practices that allow the kinds of “field trips” like the one Paul took to the fair. They believe he was an extreme escape risk and the administration should never have allowed him on the field trip. The workers have unsuccessfully fought to stop the outings for murderers, rapists and pedophiles committed to the hospital as criminally insane.

Local 782 President, Greg Davis, comments on ABC's Good Morning America about Paul's attendance at on field trip, escape and capture.

Criminally Insane Killer Captured

September 16, 2009

WFSE/AFSCME has 'serious concerns' about appointment of new DSHS assistant secretary for Children's Administration

WFSE/AFSCME has serious concerns about the appointment today of Denise Revels Robinson as assistant secretary for DSHS Children’s Administration. Time will tell if it’s the best decision for the children of Washington state.

Revels Robinson headed the troubled Milwaukee Child Welfare System in Wisconsin.

DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus announced Revels Robinson’s appointment today.

The full DSHS press release is attached here.

Follow the story here on The Olympian blog.

September 15, 2009

DOC Announces Restructure of Community Corrections Division

Your Corrections Union-Management Communications team got a preview Sept. 10, but the Department of Corrections yesterday (Sept. 14) rolled out its proposed restructure sparked by budget cuts and new reduced sentencing laws.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: These cuts impact not only jobs but they compromise public safety. Our Community Corrections members said throughout the session and continue to say this. We only hope we don't have a tragedy that proves the error of this path the Legislature and administration has taken.

The cuts to staff will take place from this Friday through the end of the year. The Federation and its Community Corrections team have so far mitigated the cuts and will continue bargaining impacts and offering alternatives in the interim. But a cut is a cut is a cut.

But having said that, here are the facts of what DOC is proposing on restructuring Community Corrections:
  • Previously, it appeared that 500-plus individuals might be impacted. The data shared in recent days shows considerably less, but the numbers are still over 200 layoffs. Many of those may be vacant, temporary and other positions and the actual number of employees forced out will be considerably less than what the Legislature estimated. But whether it's hundreds of cuts or only dozens, the impact of any cut in Community Corrections will be felt.

  • DOC is using the workload matrix to determine the cuts they believe are necessary. The decrease in offenders supervised is caused by sentencing changes (shorter terms) as well as policy changes regarding the type of offenders supervised based on risk and the reclassification of offenders.

  • The agency plans to eliminate vacancies, non-permanents, probationary, and trial service positions that will not become permanent by Oct. 1, 2009.
The changes set to take effect this Friday (Sept 18):
  • Eliminate all vacant Matrix positions unless the position elimination drops the section below Matrix staffing levels;
  • Return permanent staff in temporary appointments to their permanent positions;
  • End all temporary Community Corrections officer appointments in King and Pierce counties;
  • End all probationary CCO appointments in King and Pierce counties unless the probationary employee will achieve permanent status on or before Oct. 1, 2009;
  • End all temporary support staff appointments.
  • End all probationary support staff appointments unless the probationary employee will achieve permanent status on or before Oct. 1.
The changes set to take effect Nov. 15:
  • Lay off permanent support staff necessary to reach Matrix staffing levels (about 33 positions). DOC has vacant positions in these job classes available as layoff options.

  • Lay off all Community Corrections assistant positions that are funded through the Matrix (about 36 positions).
The changes set to take effect Jan. 1:
  • Eliminate Re-Entry Specialist positions (about 26 positions).
There is hope that after the decline seen since the sentencing change and reclassification of offenders with the risk model that there will be a leveling and perhaps an increase in the population.

Federation Natural Resources Task Force Needs Your Feedback on State's Reform Ideas

As you may know, the Legislature ordered the governor to convene a work group of natural resource agencies to "identify consolidation opportunities to improve service delivery and reduce costs."

That subcabinet group released a set of ideas yesterday, Sept. 14, and is now seeking public comment.

The Federation's internal Natural Resources Task Force also needs to hear from you so we can present your perspective to the administration. By tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 16), you will be able to submit comments and feedback on our website. You'll go to and look for the "flash" display at the bottom of the main page. Or you can go to > WFSE Blogs and More > Natural Resources Policy Committee blog.

There, you'll be able to view state documents detailing the ideas and you can link to an online survey. Your Natural Resources Task Force will then compile your comments and present them to the governor and public lands commissioner. They need to hear from you by Oct. 5.

The Federation task force includes representatives from several natural resource agencies, including Ecology, Parks and Recreation, Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Health. It met Sept. 11 to go over a preliminary matrix of ideas. They got a briefing from John Mankowski, the governor's natural resource liaison. And they talked to Marty Brown, director of the governor's legislative affairs office.

The ideas rolled out yesterday are just that. They are not recommendations. They are not options. Many contradict each other. Many are cost-prohibitive. Think of them as food for thought.

But take them seriously. You must weigh in on them. Take the time to log on, read the documents and take the survey and submit your comments.

The ideas are grouped into four broad categories: organizational, with ideas ranging from consolidation into two agencies to inter-agency collaboration in the current structure; sharing services and resources, with emphasis on data, financial and law enforcement services; improving permitting; and streamlining the quasi-judicial hearings process.

September 12, 2009

A notice to all Community Corrections Officers (CCO), Specialists (CCS), and Assistants (CCA):

You may have heard about this if you work for the Department of Corrections.

The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating uncompensated overtime between the dates of Sept. 16, 2005, and Sept. 15, 2007.

This may be of interest to you if you believe you worked more than 40 hours of ANY week during that 2-year period without compensation.

If you’re interested in testifying, contact investigator Roberta Sondgeroth at the US DOL at (206) 398-8038 ASAP.

There are laws and a contract to protect you from any feared retaliation. Please pass this information on to anyone who may be affected.

September 9, 2009

E-Recruiting Ends - well, sort of . . .

We hate to say we told you so. But the state has abandoned its faulty E-recruiting system after sinking some $6 million into it.

Most agencies never posted jobs there and only 40 percent of new employees were hired through the system, according to a KPLU radio news report.

Ah, but bad ideas never truly die.

The state will get out of the e-recruiting business and instead turn it over to a private contractor.

Ginny Dale of the state Department of Personnel told KPLU: "We've been using the system for three years and rather than continuing to invest and try (to) improve it, we're going to move in a different direction and go with a hosted provider."

So, to recap, E-recruiting didn't work at the cost of millions of dollars so the state will contract it out to a private company that knows even less about state employees and state government at a cost of more millions of dollars.

They won't pull the plug on a failed system to recruit state employees but they will pull the plug on pay raises meant to retain good state employees. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Important Date Change! November Policy Committee Meetings Moved to Nov. 21

If you're a Policy Committee delegate or alternate, please note that the November meetings originally scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14, have been moved to the following Saturday, Nov. 21, at the SeaTac Airport Hilton. The change came to avoid a conflict with the AFSCME Public Safety Congress.

The Nov. 21 Policy Committees are important because that's when delegates to the nine respective committees will elect their representatives to the Federation's Statewide Executive Board.

And all you Huskies and Cougars out there, don't fret: Luckily the annual Apple Cup between the UW and WSU has also been moved from Nov. 21 to Nov. 28 to accommodate a national television audience. So there's still no conflict between the Policy Committee meeting and that annual rivalry.

Health Care Actions This Week

Today, AFSCME will send an e-mail blast to members urging them to call Congress to urge our representatives to hold firm on a public health insurance option. This comes the same day President Obama addresses the nation on health care reform in a 5 p.m. PT address to a joint session of Congress.

Tomorrow, you can take part in an exclusive strategy call on health care reform with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The call is tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 10, at 3:15 p.m. PT. Space is limited. To RSVP for the call, please e-mail Roma Farrar-Smith at with your full name and local number.

September 2, 2009

Board OKs Bargaining Structure for 2011-2013 Negotiations

The latest contract just kicked in, but preparation for negotiations on the next, 2011-2013 contracts has begun with a focus on regaining some of the more than $1 billion in economic sacrifices made by WFSE/AFSCME members in 2009.

The union will also advocate for supplemental bargaining. The procedure adopted by the WFSE/AFSCME Executive Board Aug. 30 sets that foundation.

Supplemental issues are those affecting employees in one bargaining unit or agency or institution or other subgroup, not necessarily the general membership.

And for the first time members can directly submit ideas for the new collective bargaining agreement.

WFSE/AFSCME members will be able to submit contract proposal ideas directly to the union. Locals, policy committees, the Statewide Executive Board and the union executive director can still submit proposals.

Contract proposal forms and statewide bargaining team nomination forms will be mailed out by Sept. 10. The bargaining structure and nomination and election procedure will be published in the September Washington State Employee newspaper out about that same time.

Contract proposals must be in by Oct. 31. Nominations for the respective bargaining teams must be in by Oct. 5.

Ballots listing nominees for the respective bargaining teams will go in the mail the week of Oct. 22.

You’ll also be able to log on to the Federation website to download the bargaining structure, nomination procedures, contract proposal forms and nomination forms. Watch for a new link in the coming days (Bargaining 2011-2013).

The WFSE/AFSCME Executive Committee and Collective Bargaining Committee were to meet Sept. 10 to craft nomination and election procedures for the smaller supplemental bargaining teams.

Actual bargaining is likely to start in the late winter or early spring of 2010.

Key Gainsharing Lawsuit Hearing Set for Oct. 30

The legal wheels continue to move on the union’s lawsuit to overturn the Legislature’s 2007 decision to end gainsharing for PERS 3 and PERS 1 retirement system members.

A summary judgment hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 30 in King County Superior Court.

A new trial date has been set for Dec. 1. However, that date could change depending on what happens in the summary judgment hearing process, including any appeals. > Legal Center > Gainsharing