January 30, 2009


The Federation and DSHS agreed Thursday to keep talking about the impact of cuts that could close institutions, disrupt clients’ lives and throw 1,000 employees onto the unemployment rolls.

The union asked for and the agency agreed to provide more detailed information so both sides can get a clear idea of the breadth and depth of the cuts.

DSHS actually called the union-management communications committee meeting to share the information on the overall cuts being proposed, between now and the end of the current budget cycle in June and the 2009-2011 biennium. The union thanked Interim Secretary Stan Marshburn for taking that initiative.

Marshburn told the union DSHS is open to ideas to help avoid or lessen the impacts of the cuts. The proposed cuts range from closure of Yakima Valley School and Naselle Youth Camp, to elimination of the General Assistance-Unemployable program to staff cuts at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

The union also told Marshburn and DSHS that before it can consider some cost-saving alternatives suggested by the agency, more information is needed.

“We understand the magnitude of the crisis…but we don’t want to take a disproportionate share of the cuts,” Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux told Marshburn and his team.

Federation President Carol Dotlich said the detailed information is needed so members at all levels can talk to their managers to “get a voice in decisions” that could lead to program and job cuts.

“We should be partnering in this process and I feel like the door has been shut,” Dotlich said.

Marshburn agreed the involvement of union members is key and pledged to fill the union’s information requests as soon as possible and then reconvene. He asked the union’s patience because he just moved into his position, but set a good tone that the union team appreciated.

Some of the information Dotlich and the Federation team asked for included: The level of cuts down to the division level, and, if possible, to the region and office level; and the number of vacant positions that have been eliminated.


The Federation has learned that 16 parks, not the 13 usually cited in the press, are slated for closure under the governor’s budget proposal. Federation parks members and lobbyists have gone on record opposing the cuts as harmful to jobs and the economic vitality of their local communities.

The 16 parks on the closure list are: Brooks Memorial near Goldendale; Boagachiel near Forks; Fay Bainbridge and Fort Ward on Bainbridge Island; Fort Okanogan near Brewster; Camp Moran Environmental Learning Center on Orcas Island; Joemma Beach on Key Peninsula in Kitsap County; Kopachuck near Gig Harbor; Lake Sylvia near Montesano; Old Fort Townsend in Jefferson County; Osoyoos Lake near Oroville; Schafer near Elma; Tolmie in Thurston County; Wenberg in Snohomish County; Nolte near Enumclaw; and Squilchuck near Wenatchee.


About 30 Yakima Valley School members packed a House hearing room Thursday as a committee considered alternatives to closure.

They had come from Selah across the mountains to Olympia on short notice to emphasize the devastating impact of any closure. They passed out photos showing the valuable facility to members of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.

“I am here to put a face on the people we are talking about,” said Local 1326 President Julianne Moore, who works at Yakima Valley School.

Moore disputed the contention of those who want to close the school that minimizes the impact. Most of the 87 residents have “severe, profound mental retardation, she said, and 80 percent require total physical assistance, including eating, dressing, toileting and bathing.

“Yakima Valley School is fact these people’s home,” Moore said. “Their parents may not live in Selah, but they have chosen Yakima Valley School as the home for their child.”

Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich said the DSHS Division of Developmental Disabilities had been given a difficult task in trying to cut spending.

“But we think closing Yakima Valley School is just the wrong way to save money…,” he said.

“For the sake of saving just a little over $1 million in general funds, we’re going to disrupt and endanger the lives of some 90 of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Closing the facility will take away 3,000 respite care hours every year and throw 200 expert caregivers onto the unemployment rolls, he said.

“This proposal really symbolizes how a budget can sacrifice the needs of those who rely on the government for their wellness and subsistence,” Zuvich said.

January 29, 2009


The governor's all-cuts budget hurts Washington, including our fish hatcheries and parks.

The union told lawmakers Wednesday night the hatcheries and parks are essential to this state's economy and quality of life. The union pledged to help lawmakers find other ways to avoid the governor's all-cuts budget and save our state.

Natural resource agencies got the attention Wednesday night as the House General Government Appropriations Committee looked at how to respond to the governor's all-cuts budget versus another way to save our state.

The governor proposes closing seven fish hatcheries and 13 state parks and mothballing several other parks during certain seasons.

The hatcheries generate some $203 million in activity that benefit their small surrounding communities, Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich told the panel.

The hatcheries have "significant impacts to those communities," he said. "One hundred fifty six (workers) will lose their jobs in these communities and the economic stimulus that they bring to these communities will also be lost."

Fishing generates $900 million in revenue for this state's economy and much of that is because of fish hatcheries, Zuvich said.

"It doesn't make sense to me to close money-makers now when we need the influx of cash the most," Zuvich said.

Closing hatcheries is also a money-losing proposition because laid off workers would have to be retrained at significant cost, he said.

"What they do produces revenue for the state and a great amount," Zuvich said. "So we would urge you to look at other ways besides closing these fish hatcheries."

The same goes for parks, Federation Lobbyist Alia Griffing told the same committee.

The governor proposes permanently closing 13 state parks and mothballing several others during certain seasons. That would cut 42 positions.

Cities and counties don't have the resources to take them over, Griffing said.

"We never seem to get them back once they're given away," she said.

And closing parks and re-opening them years later is costly in the long haul, she said.

One idea being floated is re-visiting $5 parking and/or day-use fees. The Federation hasn't taken a position on that idea.

"It would be more costly in the long run than just maintaining them now and so by saving a penny today, it'll cost you a pound tomorrow," Griffing said.

"We should make it a priority to save these parks and these jobs and the quality of the recreational opportunities that they provide and avoid economic harm to the communities they serve," she added.


The Senate on Wednesday passed a short-term cost-cutting bill that aims to trim administrative costs while preserving programs and jobs. The Federation testified in support of SB 5460.

The measure has exceptions for public safety, law enforcement and revenue collection. But SB 5460 would continue the freeze on most hiring, personal services contracts, equipment purchases over $1,000, travel and out-of-state training.

There are a couple of major exemptions worth noting. The bill exempts the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island and the unemployment insurance program from the hiring freeze. The travel, training and personal services contracts restrictions do not apply to the unemployment insurance program. The travel and personal services contract restrictions do not apply if they're funded by private or federal grants. In higher education, the restrictions do not apply if the costs are not paid from state funds or tuition.

SB 5460 now goes to the House.

January 28, 2009


The idea to consolidate or eliminate many state boards and commissions may be a good idea—but in the case of the Horse Racing Commission, it’s not.

Senate Bill 5589 would fold the Horse Racing Commission into the much larger Gambling Commission.

The Horse Racing Commission staff fought for many years to win the union and collective bargaining rights. Staff at the Gambling Commission have no such rights.

“So the unintended consequence of this would be that a couple of dozen of union members lose their bargaining rights and lose their contractual protections…,” the Federation’s Dennis Eagle told the Senate Government Operations and Elections Committee Tuesday.

“It would just be a shame to see that lost.”

Eagle added that the merger would not generate any real savings.

January 27, 2009


Members at one of the institutions targeted for closure by the governor, Naselle Youth Camp in Pacific County, come to Olympia today to make their case directly to legislators.


About 30 Local 2263 members from Naselle Youth Camp in Pacific County braved foul weather to take their “Save Naselle” message directly to legislators Tuesday.

They visited with their 19th District legislators who have all pledged to fight to save the medium-security facility for youthful offenders. Its closure would mean lost opportunity for the youths, lost jobs and a severe hit to the local economy.

“Families across America are hurting, and our community is no exception,” Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-19th Dist., said in a press release last week. “Closing the youth camp and stopping the amazing programs there would be a devastating blow to families and communities across southwest Washington. When we’re trying to recover and rebuild our economy, it just goes against common sense to destroy a community like this.”

After meeting with the legislators, the Naselle members personally delivered an invitation to the governor’s office for the governor to attend a Feb. 4 town hall meeting. That meeting is 7 p.m., next Wednesday, Feb. 4, at Naselle High School Commons.


Following the Senate’s proposed $105 million in short-term budget cuts, the House on Monday unveiled a plan to trim $640 million between now and June.

The proposal, HB 1694, comes up for a hearing Tuesday afternoon in the House Ways and Means Committee.


The Federation and Gov. Chris Gregoire square off in court Feb. 6 over the governor's refusal to forward a request to fund the contracts she negotiated with the union.

Give the governor credit for guts. She entered the lion's den by visiting with Federation members at the union's annual legislative reception Monday night in Olympia.

She got an earful from members on why her all-cuts budget is the wrong way to go in this down economy.

They told her: Save jobs, programs and the contract.

We know the governor got the message from the "I am not disposable" buttons that members wore. Because she asked what it meant. The governor wants to cut 2,600 state employees, close several institutions, state parks and fish hatcheries and cut or eliminate other programs for some of the most vulnerable citizens you care for. VIEW SLIDESHOW

The hearing on the Federation's lawsuit against the governor will be 9 a.m., Friday, Feb. 6, before Judge Anne Hirsch in Thurston County Superior Court. A decision is expected soon after.

As you recall, the governor's failure to forward a funding request leaves your contract in limbo.

Without that, it's unclear if the Legislature can even follow the law and vote up or down on your economic package. And if they can't do that, there is nothing to trigger re-negotiations so you can formally put alternatives to the cuts on the table or modify your negotiated package.

As it stands, the governor has basically decided unilaterally not to honor the contracts-excluding you and the Legislature from having any say.

Stayed informed at WFSE.org > State Budget & You

January 26, 2009


The momentum against closing Yakima Valley School continues to grow as Gov. Chris Gregoire's own Democratic party has condemned the move.

The Democratic Central Committee meeting in Olympia Saturday unanimously adopted a resolution opposing closure of the facility for developmentally disabled citizens in Selah. Members of Local 1326 work there.

The governor has proposed closing Yakima Valley, but closure generates only about $1 million in savings in the context of a $6 billion deficit.

The Democrats' move follows the opposition of the all-Republican legislative delegation from Central Washington. Those GOP legislators voiced their opposition at a press conference over the holidays.

This bipartisan opposition comes after two weeks of intense grassroots action by Local 1326 members in Selah and Olympia.


And this builds momentum against closures of other institutions. We told you last week that the Department of Corrections had rescinded its proposal to close Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women in Medical Lake-at least until they get better numbers.

And tomorrow, Tuesday, members from Naselle Youth Camp Local 2263 bring their opposition directly to the Legislature.

Naselle has generated community solidarity. For instance, the Long Beach Merchants Association started a blog to make their case that closure of Naselle Youth Camp will have a crippling economic ripple effect throughout Pacific County. It would affect not only employees at the facility, but school district and other community jobs dependent on the dollars generated by Naselle employees.

"A positive answer to the governor's economic stimulus goal of job creation-is the retention of 120 jobs in Pacific County vs. the negative impact of cutting jobs and recreating them elsewhere!" the merchants' blog says.

And the local school superintendent makes the same case in a recent letter to the Chinook Observer newspaper in Long Beach.

"The fiscal impact of a closure of the camp is simply too big of a hit and affects too large a percentage of our community to implement...," wrote Alan Bennett, superintendent of Naselle Gray's River Valley School District. "The scale of losses here needs to be explained to our legislators in the context of our small community. There are roughly 85 jobs at Naselle Youth Camp and 60 at the Naselle Grays River Valley School District. The closure of the camp would eliminate about two-thirds of those jobs."

As Federation Legislative and Political Action Director Dennis Eagle told member lobbyists in Seattle Saturday: "By saving a penny today, it'll cost you a pound tomorrow."


About 75 Federation members from around the state gathered in Seattle for grassroots lobbying training Saturday and gained support from legislators from both parties in trying to save jobs, programs and the contracts.

"This is the largest turnout at this event that I've ever seen and it's the most motivated I've ever seen," said Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux.

"We have such a high unemployment problem here, I don't want to add state employees to that problem," said House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Kelli Linville, D-42nd Dist.

Linville was joined by five legislators who participated in role-playing exercises giving members feedback on how to effectively make their case one-on-one with senators and representatives.

"It costs a lot less to save a job than it does to create a new job," said Rep. Priest, R-30th Dist.

Joining Priest for the one-on-one training sessions, were: Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-15th Dist.; Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-44th Dist.; Rep. Marko Liias, D-21st Dist.; Sen. Karen Keiser, D-33rd Dist.

Linville and her colleagues urged Federation members to share their ideas on other ways to save money. She recommended using facts, not anecdotes.

Dennis Eagle, the Federation's director of legislative and political action, said human nature leads legislators to take the path of least resistance. If no one speaks up, they'll do the easy thing-which in this case means following the governor's all-cuts budget plan.

Liias agreed, urging members "to come in and ask us to do things we don't want to do."

The dark economic clouds loomed over the lobby training, but even Linville, the top House budget writer, kept it in perspective about the challenges ahead.

"I've been waiting 15 years to be chair of Ways and Means," she joked. "I guess I wouldn't have picked this year."

Learn more about about Legislative & Political Action (LPA) at WFSE.org > LPA Center

January 23, 2009


The Federation on Thursday (Jan. 22) applauded a Senate plan to cut administrative costs of state government to help avoid cuts in staff and programs.

"It makes sense to cut back everywhere we can apart from direct service where services and needs are increasing," said Dennis Eagle, the Federation's director of legislative and political action. He testified before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Senate Bill 5460 would generate about $105 million in savings through June. The House plans to unveil a proposal today (Friday) to cut an additional $300 million.

The plan would prohibit new positions or filling of vacancies, with exceptions for public health and safety, law enforcement and revenue collection.

It would also impose a freeze on most new personal services contracts, equipment purchases over $1,000 and most non-emergency or service-related travel and training.

And for the next 12 months would freeze the pay for state employees not under a contract. That would not apply to you. And it would impose higher health insurance premiums for executive and management state employees (who are not under a contract).

Not surprisingly, agency and higher education management testified against the bill.

Veiw this and other hearing excerpts at WFSE.org > State Budget & You > Session Media Archives

January 22, 2009


After a week of push back by Federation members in Olympia and in Medical Lake, the Department of Corrections has pulled Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women off the closure list-for now at least.

"Based on the questions raised by Pine Lodge Superintendent Morton Walker and his staff, we have decided and are announcing that our previous decision to close Pine Lodge was premature," Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail said in a statement released Tuesday.

In an e-mail to Walker the secretary said could be shared with staff, Vail went on:

"In our haste to find solutions to the very difficult budget situation we face, we made many decisions, very quickly. Our intentions were good but our perspective was not very precise. We had not done all of the necessary work on our end. The result was our premature decision to close your institution."

But, Vail cautioned, this policy reversal doesn't guarantee that Pine Lodge might not be targeted again. "As it stands today, we will need to close an institution," Vail said.

Vail's decision came after blistering questions from legislators, on-point testimony from Federation members in Olympia and an emotional presentation by some 20 Local 782 members to the Medical Lake City Council Tuesday night. That's where Walker announced Vail's decision. The city had already voiced anger that the state had never informed them of the proposed closure. The closure would have adversely affected the economy of Medical Lake.

Local 782 members, though, view this as a reprieve only. They will continue to do the research to build the case for retention of Pine Lodge when DOC makes a decision for which institution it still says it must close.

This is good news, but the work continues. But it should give hope to those at Yakima Valley School, Naselle Youth Camp and other targeted institutions and programs that grassroots union pressure and community pressure based on solid facts can make a difference.

January 21, 2009


The budget proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire that's balanced on the back of vital services and state employees is the wrong solution for economic recovery.

That's what Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux told the Senate Ways and Means Committee Tuesday.

"The budget eliminates vital services to the public at a time when they are needed most," Devereux said, ticking off proposed cuts to the GA-U and Basic Health programs and closures of Yakima Valley School, Naselle Youth Camp and Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women.

He also criticized the governor's proposal to put 2,600 state employees on the unemployment rolls while creating 25,000 jobs in the private sector.

"Few economists would dispute that it is easier and cheaper to preserve existing jobs than to create new ones...," he said.

"In effect, many of the proposed cuts will lead to greater downstream costs and only makes the recession and the job-cutting downward spiral worse."

There's a more sensible path, Devereux said.

"We cannot and should not try to cut our way out of this fiscal crisis," he said.

"We must identify and implement every efficiency in state government we can. But we also must carefully scrutinize tax preferences for possible rollback and we should look for new sources of revenue, which will equitably spread the cost of vital services across the population."


It's not exactly like the governor's plan, but the first legislation to ease the deficit by cutting community supervision of offenders has serious flaws, a member of Community Corrections Local 308 in Seattle told legislators Tuesday.

At issue is Senate Bill 5288 that would reduce the categories of offenders supervised by Community Corrections members. The plan could harm community safety-and cost the jobs of hundreds of Community Corrections members.

Ginger Richardson, a Community Corrections officer in King County and a member of Local 308, said a key assessment tool used to classify offenders has only been in place six months. Yet the cuts are being based on possibly flawed information.

"Has the assessment tool been in place long enough for you to make a decision?" Richardson asked the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.

She added: "Does this protect the public? No, it doesn't."

January 20, 2009


Members from across the state donned Federation Green on Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday to flood the Capitol with their message of saving jobs, programs and the contracts.

Social worker and other members from Pierce County Local 53 visited their legislators to press for workload relief for Children's Services workers-a result of the recent DSHS workload committee. They also pressed to save the General Assistance-Unemployable program. And they pushed for funding of the contracts, pensions and a job stimulus package.

Some 30 Local 1326 members from Yakima Valley School in Selah also visited legislators and packed a hearing on the budget before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

"You see many green shirts today," Local 1326 President Julianne Moore testified. "These people are mobilized to save Yakima Valley School."

After the hearing, Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux applauded the Yakima Valley School turnout-and the impression they made on legislators.

"They (legislators) know you vote, you care, you make a big difference," Devereux said before the Yakima Valley School members boarded their bus for home.

That's it for now. Call Wednesday for the next message.

January 17, 2009


An extraordinarily busy first week of the Legislature brought dozens of Federation members to Olympia to visit legislators. On Wednesday and Thursday alone, members testified at five major hearings to save jobs, programs and institutions—and the quality services they provide and the jobs that pump needed dollars into hard-hit communities.

They projected the kind of state employee commitment that can help win the day.

“I’m a very proud state employee,” said Kevin Prestegard, a residential rehabilitation counselor at Naselle and member of Local 2263. “I love my community. And that’s why I’m here today.”

Here’s a roundup:


The governor proposes to close this skilled nursing facility in Selah, displacing 100 extremely fragile developmentally disabled citizens and cut some 140 jobs.

Julianne Moore, an adult training specialist 3 at Yakima Valley School and member of Local 1326, said the governor would generate only about $1 million in savings.

“The disruption of the closure and transfer of our clients will have harmful effects,” she told the House Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 14. “There is such a thing as ‘transfer trauma.’ Some of our clients will die because of it.”

Yakima Valley School’s closure would harm the entire state because clients come from across Washington, she said.

“Yakima Valley School has a ‘no refusal’ policy and often takes clients that are in crisis with no other place for them to live,” Moore said. “We also provide respite care to 110 clients from across the state. Many parents and caregivers in all corners of the state depend on this so they can get a breather so they can continue to care for their loved ones in their homes.”

(Moore also testified Jan. 15 before the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.)



The governor proposes closing Naselle Youth Camp in Pacific County, a facility for youthful offenders run by the DSHS Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration. It is the only facility that provides the full range of treatment and rehabilitation options offered by JRA. It currently holds about 96 youth. It is the only work camp for juvenile offenders.

“We inspire our kids,” said Kevin Prestegard, a residential rehabilitation counselor at Naselle and member of Local 2263.

Closing Naselle would harm residents to move them from their minimum-medium security facility to the remaining maximum-security facilities, he said.

“Children that are minimum-medium aren’t sophisticated to be in a maximum security environment,” he told the House Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 14.

Jane Anne Drechnowicz, another residential rehabilitation counselor at Naselle and a member of Local 2263, said her facility lives up to its mission “to protect and value these youth while working to make them successful members of their communities.” She testified Jan. 15 before the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.



The governor proposes closing Pine Lodge Corrections Center for Women in Medical Lake, the only women’s facility in Eastern Washington. Inmates would be shifted to Larch Mountain in Clark County, which would entail added cost to convert it to a women’s prison.

“We are the most efficiently run prison in the state, based on (the Department of Corrections’) own numbers,” said Robert Milton, a corrections and custody officer 2 and member of Local 782.

He testified Jan. 15 in the House General Government Appropriations Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

The proposed closure “doesn’t make sense to us,” he said. “So we’re asking you to re-visit the governor’s budget and look at the numbers and keep Pine Lodge open.”



The governor also proposes cuts to community supervision of felony offenders. According to the governor’s budget documents, that would cut about one-third (about 500) of the frontline staff in Community Corrections. In the admission of the governor’s own staff, it’s unclear if our communities will be any safer. This means that thousands of offenders who previously would be watched won’t.

“We have several real concerns about that,” said Ton Johnson, a Community Corrections officer 3 in King County and member of Local 308. He testified Jan. 15 in the House General Government Appropriations Committee.



The governor proposes elimination of the General Assistance-Unemployable (GA-U) program that provides financial help to 21,000 mentally ill and disabled citizens who, through no fault of their own, cannot work.

Karen Mork, a financial services specialist 4 at the Columbia River Community Services Office in Vancouver and a member of Local 313, said the governor’s proposal would “pull the rug out from under…some of the most vulnerable people in our state.”

“To be blunt, the proposal to end GAU is unnecessarily cruel and fiscally unsound,” Mork told the House Ways and Means Committee Jan. 14.

(Mork also testified Jan. 15 before the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.)



The governor proposes closure of 13 state parks and seasonal closures of others.

Ted Morris, a park ranger 3 at Birch Bay State Park and a member of Local 1466, said plan to turn the parks over to cities and counties won’t work because local government is closing its own parks. He called this state’s parks “jewels.”

“And we just never seem to get those jewels back once we give them away,” Morris told the House General Government Appropriations Committee Jan. 15.

“I believe we should make it a priority to save these jewels, save jobs and save the quality recreational opportunities they provide and avoid the economic harm to our communities,” Morris testified.



The governor proposes cuts to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, that would reduce wildlife management, weaken information technology, reduce habitat protection, cut the number of Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers and close seven fish hatcheries. That would cut nearly 157 jobs, some in small, rural communities where every job counts in their economy.

“DFW has always been an agency that has been expected to do more with less for a long time,” said Tim Young, a Local 443 member with the department in Olympia.

He testified Jan. 15 in the House General Government Appropriations Committee.

“The implementation of the governor’s budget will cripple the ability of the department to conduct important activities related to environmental conservation, which also benefits the state’s economy,” Young said.

“Once cut, many of these activities will be very difficult to restore and will result in a loss of a significant portion of the department’s most valuable asset, its trained, competent staff and their institutional knowledge.”

(Young also testified Jan. 15 before the House Ways and Means Committee.)



The governor proposes cutting 1,046 at state colleges and universities.

Rosemary Sterling, a manager at the copy center at Whatcom Community College and member of Local 1381, said the cuts come at a time when higher education is needed for worker retraining in the down economy.

“These cuts would harm students and our communities,” Sterling told the House Education Appropriations Committee Jan. 15.



The governor proposes a cut of 32 residential rehabilitation counselors in the low-acuity unit at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. SCC houses dangerous sex offenders.

“This cut will only make a bad situation worse and has potential for endangering our communities,” said Craig Gibelyou, president of Local 793, which includes Special Commitment Center workers.

SCC already faces high turnover and overtime costs. The governor’s proposed cuts could spark sanctions from the federal government and the courts because of less treatment.

“And then these dangerous repeat sexual predators would be released back in our neighborhoods again,” he told the House Ways and Means Committee Jan. 14.

(Gibelyou also testified Jan. 15 before the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.)


January 15, 2009

Members swarm first round of budget hearings to save jobs, programs, institutions


The House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday held the first in a two-day whirlwind of hearings on the governor’s budget proposals and members from Yakima Valley School, Naselle Youth Camp, Special Commitment Center and the DSHS General Assistance-Unemployable program testified.

Four House committees hold hearings today and Federation members will be there.

We’ll have a full wrap up Friday on all the hearings.

Testifying Wednesday were: Julianne Moore, Local 1326, Yakima Valley School; Craig Gibelyou, Local 793, representing the Special Commitment Center; Kevin Prestegard and Jerry Elliott, Local 2263, Naselle Youth Camp; and Karen Mork, Local 313, with the GA-U program in Vancouver.

View all the hearings held this week here.

January 14, 2009


The Federation called on legislators to reject Gov. Chris Gregoire’s refusal to forward a funding request for the pay raises and other economic parts of the contracts she just negotiated with you.

“Bluntly, we were shocked that the governor chose to not fund our contracts,” Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux told the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday afternoon.

The dispute is now in court.

“We believe that the governor should have moved the contracts forward to you and the proper place for the debate about economic viability of the contracts should have been here,” Devereux added.

The governor’s inaction puts the contracts in limbo. Without a funding proposal, the contracts can’t win legislative approval. Without that, the current contracts expire June 30 and the new contracts can’t take effect.

“Forty-five states have sizable deficits and less than two are not funding their employees’ contracts or compensation where contracts do not exist…,” Devereux said.

“By all measures, the economic portion of our contracts is incredibly conservative, some would say paltry, because of the economic environment. Whether we liked it or not, we took the economic climate into account during bargaining. Our settlement included no increase in the salary survey percentage, no decrease in the employee’s share of health care and a mere 2 percent (pay raise) in each year of the biennium. Two percent is less than 50 percent of the current cost of living.”

Devereux faulted the governor for not looking at sensible solutions for new revenue, like closing tax loopholes, so the budget is not balanced on the backs of state employees and the citizens who depend on their quality services.

“In the end, if you want quality services, you must pay for them,” he said. “You know you cannot get government on the cheap.

“Our citizens, now more than ever, need quality government services. We ask your help in providing a quality workforce to deliver those essential services.”

Rep. Steve Conway suggested one creative solution could be early retirement incentives. “It is something we will consider,” Devereux said, but it has to be balanced with keeping as many state employees on the job so workloads don’t get even worse.

January 13, 2009


And that call for sensible solutions is more urgent than ever after the first few rounds of legislative committee briefings on the governor’s proposed and deep budget cuts.

In the House Ways and Means Committee, state budget director Victor Moore, with the secretaries from DSHS, Corrections and Health, laid out the draconian cuts.

Rep. Steve Conway pressed Moore about why the governor did not honor the negotiated contracts and why she did not forward to the Legislature a funding request for the economic parts of the contracts.

Conway asked Moore why the governor didn’t re-open bargaining to re-negotiate in the face of a worsening economy.

Moore had declared the contracts as not “financially feasible” and said the law tied his hands. “I don’t have the authority to go back (to the table),” Moore told the committee.

As it is, the governor’s inaction has thrown your current and future contract into limbo. If the Legislature has no funding request to debate, the current contract expires June 30 and the one you just negotiated can’t take effect. That means even non-economic workplace rights.


So, continue your calls to legislators at 1-800-562-6000. Tell them:

I respectfully urge you to support funding our negotiated pay raises and other economic parts of the contracts we negotiated with the governor. Without that, we actually will have no contract come July 1, 2009! All provisions, even non-economic workplace rights, are in jeopardy.


Still, top legislators voice hope that we can get through this crisis. Said House Speaker Frank Chopp: “We can choose to react to this economic downturn by shrinking our hopes for our state, or we can keep our eyes on the horizon and direct our attention and resources to what is truly important.”

Meanwhile, the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, a respected research center, advocates a four-part strategy: a withdrawal from the state’s Rainy Day Fund; a temporary general sales tax increase (each half-penny increase yields $1.1 billion over two years; it would be the first increase in 26 years); to offset that increase for lower-income working families, full funding of the Working Families Rebate; and careful consideration of budget choices, including tax expenditures.

So more and more people in and out of the Legislature are rejecting the governor’s plan to cut our way out of the deficit by balancing it on the backs of state employees and the quality services you provide.

Submit YOUR Sensible Solutions here.


The House Education Appropriations Committee this morning got a high-level briefing on the deep cuts to state colleges and universities.

Budget Director Victor Moore and staff didn’t get into many details of the cuts.

But here’s what wasn’t laid out to the legislators.

The proposed budget reductions in Higher Education come to $343,719,000. An analysis of the governor’s budget documents by Federation lobbyists shows the governor is proposing 1,046 staff cuts in Higher Education. It’s not clear how many are faculty and how many are Federation-represented classified staff. But overall, the governor would cut: 402.2 positions at the University of Washington; 205.9 at Washington State University; 63.5 at Eastern Washington University; 50.5 at Central Washington University; 33 at The Evergreen State College; 79.8 at Western Washington University; and 210.9 at Community and Technical Colleges.

Until we get clarification, we have to assume big cuts to Federation members’ jobs. That’s why we encourage Federation Higher Ed members to come to Olympia to register concerns directly with legislators. Call your legislative and political action team at 1-800-562-6002; they’ll set up your appointments.

A public hearing on the proposed Higher Education cuts takes place Thursday in the same committee and Federation members will be there.


More and more the governor may be alone in thinking we can cut our way out of the budget deficit with no new revenues. We’ve told you about cutting some of the $54 billion in tax loopholes.

Now a senator has proposed a state income tax. It may go nowhere, but it maybe the first of many revenue-enhancing ideas that the Legislature should debate. Sen. Rosa Franklin of the 29th District has introduced the measure, Senate Bill 5104, “to provide the necessary revenues for the support of vital state services on a more stable and equitable basis.”

It would actually lower the sales tax and eliminate all property taxes for one year, 2010.

We’ll keep you posted on other revenue-raising ideas that may go nowhere but spark the necessary debate to save jobs, quality services and your economic future.

January 12, 2009


Dozens of Federation members are due in Olympia this week for the first hectic days of a legislative session where jobs, preserving the quality services you provide and protecting your economic future are all at stake.

Before we give you the rundown of hearings dealing with proposed cuts to jobs, institutions and programs, here’s today’s call to action.


The governor has put your current and new contract in jeopardy by not forwarding a funding request for your negotiated pay raises so the Legislature can debate it.


I respectfully urge you to support funding our negotiated pay raises and other economic parts of the contracts we negotiated with the governor. Without that, we actually will have no contract come July 1, 2009! All provisions, even non-economic workplace rights, are in jeopardy.


The governor’s proposed cuts to jobs and programs come under legislative scrutiny this week. And Federation members from those affected programs will be there to register opposition and instead support sensible solutions to the economic crisis.

If you’d like to join the Green Team as it stages a constant presence at the Capitol this session—this week and the rest of the 105 days—call your Legislative and Political Action team at 1-800-562-6002. They’ll make your appointments for you.


The Legislature convenes with pomp and circumstance as newly elected House and Senate members take the oath of office. Several committees hold work sessions on the governor’s budget recommendations.

  • The House Ways and Means Committee looks at the governor’s proposed 2009-11 operating budget and the 2009 supplemental budget. (3:30 p.m., House Hearing Room A, John L. O’Brien Building.)
  • The House Capital Budget looks at the proposed capital projects budget. (3:30 p.m., House Hearing Room C, John L. O’Brien Building.)


  • The House Ways and Means Committee holds a public hearing on pensions, employee compensation and health benefits. (3:30 p.m., House Hearing Room A, John L. O’Brien Building.)
  • The House Education Appropriations Committee looks at the governor’s budget, including for Higher Education, where huge staff cuts are proposed (though it’s unclear how many are faculty and how many are classified staff) (8 a.m., House Hearing Room A, John L. O’Brien Building.)


  • The House Ways and Means Committee takes up the governor’s proposed closure of Yakima Valley School and Naselle Youth Camp, cuts to GA-U and the Special Commitment Center and other cuts to human services programs. (3:30 p.m., House Hearing Room A, John L. O’Brien Building.)


  • The House Education Appropriations Committee takes up the proposed cuts to Higher Education. (1:30 p.m., House Hearing Room A, John L. O’Brien Building.)
  • The House General Government Appropriations Committee holds a public hearing on the governor’s proposed cuts to General Government, natural resources and Corrections. (1:30 p.m. House Hearing Room B, John L. O’Brien Building; continues at 6 p.m.)
  • The House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee takes up previously mentioned human services cuts. (1:30 p.m., House Hearing Room C, John L. O’Brien Building; continues at 6 p.m.)
  • The House Ways and Means Committee holds a public hearing on proposed cuts to General Government, natural resources and Corrections. (3:30 p.m., House Hearing Room A, John L. O’Brien Building.)


  • The Senate holds several work sessions on various parts of the budget, but no Senate committee has scheduled any public hearings when Federation members can voice their concerns.

  • One Senate work session of note: Thursday’s “collective bargaining primer in the Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. We’ll be watching to see what that is all about.

January 8, 2009



The lawsuit the Federation and one legislator filed to get your negotiated economic package before the Legislature has generated a lot of e-mails from members and press attention.

Because it was filed just before Christmas, you may have missed it and got only the spin from business-biased newspaper editorial writers and knee-jerk talk radio hosts.

So, here's a detailed explanation. A FAQ on the lawsuit will be on the website soon. The lawsuit document and other material is already at www.wfse.org so you can see for yourself what it's really all about.

All about the lawsuit:

Many editorial writers and radio talk show hosts have misrepresented the reasons behind the lawsuit. Please don't be misled. It is not about greed, it is about principle.

You and your union spent hundreds of thousands of dollars negotiating a contract that the governor cannot unilaterally ignore.

The governor needs to ask before she takes away something she herself negotiated with you. That means letting the Legislature consider ideas to raise revenue she may not wish to propose. And it may mean re-opening contract negotiations to formally ask you in these tough times what you would be willing to give up-and fair consideration of ideas you and others have to save jobs and programs.

That's not greed. That's about standing up for your jobs and the quality services you provide.

Our lawsuit cannot compel the governor to spend a dime on your raises. That's because the governor can only propose that and all other spending. Only the Legislature can decide.

But the lawsuit does aim to compel the governor to forward a proposal that the Legislature can debate. The Legislature still has the final say. If they vote down the funding for your pay raises, it forces new negotiations. It's unclear if the governor's inaction takes away your ability to go back to the table.

The lawsuit is really about compelling the governor to honor the contracts she negotiated and that you ratified. Your bargaining teams wrapped up negotiations and you ratified them by the Oct. 1 deadline set in law. And we followed the law by forwarding those contracts to the Governor's Office of Financial Management by the Oct. 1 deadline for inclusion in the governor's budget request.

You followed the law. Why shouldn't the governor?

In technical terms, we believe she is required by law to forward a funding request on the General Government and Higher Education Coalition contracts; again, her labor relations office negotiated those with the union and then they were forwarded to her budget office. We also believe she is legally bound to forward a funding request for the UW, WSU and EWU contracts negotiated at the institution level; they, too, were required by law to go to her budget office for inclusion in her budget.

But when the governor rolled out her budget request Dec. 18, she included no proposals for any of your economic package. The governor used the "financial feasibility" clause in the 2002 collective bargaining law to say that even though she agreed to the economic parts of our contracts, she can unilaterally ignore them in tough economic times. And as it stands, she proposes no pay raises-and big cuts. She wants to: cut another 2,600 state jobs; close three institutions, 13 state parks and seven fish hatcheries; scale back Community Corrections supervision of dangerous offenders; and much more.

On top of that, she did nothing to find creative ways to raise revenue to save jobs, save programs and maybe, just maybe, save at least part of your negotiated economic package.

Her action seems to imply there will be no chance to re-open negotiations so we have a formal chance to propose ways to save the state money and save jobs. We have proposed cutting just a fraction of the $54 billion in tax breaks to corporations; some are outdated and no longer effective. We have proposed cutting special pay and bonuses given to middle managers in the Washington Management Service. Many of you have submitted "Sensible Solutions" ideas through our website to save money; we want to put those on the table as well.

What we're asking is not unprecedented. In King County, labor and management re-opened negotiations and agreed to a program of unpaid furlough days to save money. In states as large as Florida and as small as New Hampshire, governors have rejected state employee layoffs and even cutting negotiated pay raises as the absolutely wrong way to bring about economic recovery.

Here, too, it comes down to maintaining a quality state government and quality services. As our governor is fond of saying, "the great state of Washington" is great because of you and the work you do. That's worth fighting for. And that's what the lawsuit is about.

We truly hold this governor in high regard. We believe she is sincere in her concerns about preserving our quality of life in these tough economic times. But on the issue of what you should sacrifice, she is going about it in the wrong way.

That's why we have asked a judge to quickly referee the dispute so the Legislature is clear about what they can and cannot do based on what the governor forwards (or doesn't forward) to them.

The governor has said that "everything is on the table" for consideration as we join to build our economic recovery. But much was left off the table in her budget plan. Nothing about rolling back tax loopholes. Nothing about Washington Management Service. Nothing about raising revenue to preserve programs adopted by the Legislature-and indirectly--voters.

The economic crisis cannot be balanced on your back. Yet, she wants you to give up the pay raises and other economic provisions she negotiated with you. Her proposal is an assault on pension funding, the salary survey, other negotiated pay equity adjustments, funding to help those in the most dangerous jobs pay their higher workers' comp rates, and much more.

Instead, the governor should be willing to have a full and free debate in the Legislature and at the bargaining table. We believe that's what the law says. We believe that's what the contract says. And we believe it's the right thing to do.

We expect to get a court hearing later this month. We hope to have a judge's ruling in time so legislators' authority is clear by the time they start full budget debate in March.

Read the lawsuit here | Download lawsuit FAQ