February 27, 2009


The Federation has won a return to the bargaining table to renegotiate your contracts instead of having them unilaterally withheld.

This is a reversal by the administration, which until now said it did not have the authority to renegotiate. Gov. Chris Gregoire did not forward the economic parts of the contracts to the Legislature. But the effect is there would be no contracts at all, economic or non-economic.

All of the Federation’s bargaining teams—the same ones you elected last year and which bargained the 2009-2011 contracts—will meet March 7 “to go over where we are in the process at this point,” said Federation President Carol Dotlich.

“Shortly thereafter, they will meet to discuss which articles to open and set goals.”

All of the Federation’s bargaining teams will then schedule negotiation dates. The General Government Bargaining Team heads back to the table March 11. They’ll have a pre-meet March 10. Dates for the Higher Education Coalition, the University of Washington, Washington State University and Eastern Washington University will follow.

“The existing elected bargaining teams will soon be back at the bargaining table to make sure Federation members have the job protections of a contract,” Dotlich said.

“In this difficult time, it is unthinkable that state employees can work in the current environment without a contract. We know the economy will not recover prior to the June 30th expiration date of the current contract.”

“We are up against the wall in terms of timing since the Legislature is scheduled to end in April,” Dotlich said. “We will work off existing contract proposals and benefits that the teams develop. We plan to hold a ratification vote which requires a period of time to allow members to participate. We must be flexible and we must be efficient in our use of time.”

Stay tuned for details.

The union will continue its legal challenge of the governor’s actions in the interest of preserving collective bargaining.


Currently SHB 1983 has passed out of its committee of origin and now is in the House General Government Appropriations Committee.

SHB 1983 requires that all applicants for park rangers meet minimum requirements and complete the basic law enforcement academy courses offered through the Criminal Justice Training Commission. Federation Parks Local 1466 member Don Hall has testified for the bill on behalf of the union.

Cutoff for bills to clear fiscal committees is March 2nd. The bill needs to get out of GGA very soon to be considered by the 2nd. Please call 1-800-562-6000 or e-mail your legislators to ask them to support SHB 1983. Ask GGA members to bring SHB 1983 up for a hearing. Also e-mail Representative Jeannie Darneille (Darneille.Jeannie@leg.wa.gov) who is the Chair of the General Government Appropriations committee to ask her to bring forth our bill. Two other key GGA committee members who have been key supporters for us is Rep. Kevin Van De Wege and Rep. Hans Dunshee.

February 26, 2009


Speaker of the House Frank Chopp asked a gathering of about 300 labor member-lobbyists this morning to help him get the message to his colleagues that the rush to fill the $8 billion budget deficit shouldn’t trample our principles.

The budget, Chopp said, is “a moral document of our values.”

Chopp spoke at the annual legislative conference of the Washington State Labor Council in Olympia.

WSLC President Rick Bender said new sources of revenue must be found because the state can’t cut its way out of the budget deficit.

The delegates also stood in solidarity when Federation President Carol Dotlich asked for their support to save your contract and collective bargaining in the wake of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s decision not to forward the negotiated economic package to the Legislature. The governor cancelled her appearance at the labor conference because of illness.


Federation members have already shown this session their commitment to saving quality services and jobs to help build our economic recovery.

But in the days leading to the Senate’s unveiling of a budget plan shortly after March 19, we need to keep legislators’ focus that the all-cuts budget proposed by the governor is the wrong way to go.

So a statewide “Day of Action” has been planned for Tuesday, March 17, to send the message that an “all-cuts” budget is not the answer.

Starting next Monday, you will see a number of resources on our website at www.wfse.org. You will start seeing information popping up in your worksite as well.

The idea is to have a flagship lobby day and rally March 17 at the Capitol sponsored by Olympia Local 443. But we need a sea of green across the state in every worksite where you can take a few minutes to call the Legislature’s toll-free hotline to send the message against the “all-cuts” budget approach.

The online resources will include a page where you can sign up to receive a special text message on March 17.

But it’s important to keep the pressure on leading up to March 17 and beyond. Many locals and worksites have held events all session long. We need to expand that visibility even more.

So, here’s what you need to do as part of the “Day of Action” campaign—we’ll keep it real simple:

• If your local is planning to come to Olympia for the March 17 “Day of Action,” register with April Sims at 1-800-562-6002.

• If your local or worksite wants to stage an event on the March 17 “Day of Action” or the days leading up to it, contact your nearest Federation field office.

Stay tuned for more details - WFSE.org


Here’s part of what Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen of the 10th District says in her latest e-newsletter to her constituents:

“Unfortunately, using a ‘cuts only’ approach to close the gap between state revenues and state spending isn’t as easy as it may sound. We wouldn’t be able to save enough through cuts even if we eliminated our entire state’s correctional system, our entire higher education system, all care for our seniors, and all care for those with developmental disabilities!

“We also need to recognize that spending reductions alone can actually harm our economy.

“Economics professor Dick Startz of the University of Washington estimates that every $1 billion reduction in annual state government spending during the recession will cost Washington about 15,000 public and private sector jobs.”


Here’s part of what Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen of the 10th District says in her latest e-newsletter to her constituents:

“Unfortunately, using a ‘cuts only’ approach to close the gap between state revenues and state spending isn’t as easy as it may sound. We wouldn’t be able to save enough through cuts even if we eliminated our entire state’s correctional system, our entire higher education system, all care for our seniors, and all care for those with developmental disabilities!

“We also need to recognize that spending reductions alone can actually harm our economy.

“Economics professor Dick Startz of the University of Washington estimates that every $1 billion reduction in annual state government spending during the recession will cost Washington about 15,000 public and private sector jobs.”

February 24, 2009


The Federation-initiated bill to bring accountability to the Washington Management Service and exempt service got a good hearing in the Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee Monday.

SB 5939 calls for more transparency on the numbers of WMS and exempt employees and special pay they receive.

The bill would also eliminate WMS. However, Sen. Karen Keiser is proposing an amendment to reduce but not eliminate WMS. The administration has opposed the original bill, which means the governor would likely veto the bill in its present form if it ever reaches her desk.

An amended version of the bill (SHB 2049) passed a House committee last week.

"I want to protect those people on the ground who are doing the people's work," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Steve Hobbs of the 44th District.

"We believe that the Washington Management Service has not achieved its intended goal," said the Federation's Dennis Eagle. "It has not led to a stronger, more qualified and capable management system. And in a time of austerity, we need to show that we're spending every tax dollar wisely."

February 20, 2009


The state Senate on Friday put aside partisanship to unanimously adopt a resolution honoring Department of Transportation members as “local heroes” who saved the state during the devastating floods of December 2007 and the snowstorms and flooding during this winter.

DOT members from around the state packed the Senate gallery, along with State Troopers and DOT Engineers of IFPTE Local 17.

“The department of transportation responded to the storms with over 1,250 employees working around the clock during the holiday season, compiling 115,000 hours of regular time and 48,000 hours of overtime,” read part of Senate Resolution 8634.

“These men and women were out there making it a safer place to live,” said Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen of the 10th District, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee.

“I can tell you, they saved lives.”

Haugen led off a list of senators who praised the DOT members for saving their communities.

“This isn’t an inconvenience—this is their job,” said Sen. Chris Marr of the 6th District, who is a former member of the state Transportation Commission.

Sen. Tim Sheldon of the 35th District praised the members for doing a tough job when most other citizens are rushing home to protect their homes and families.

“When you do this work, you leave your families at home,” Sheldon said.

By the way, the Federation’s Natural Disaster Relief Fund 2009 will take applications for assistance until March 1. You can download applications at www.wfse.org.


Two Federation-initiated bills cleared committee Friday afternoon and stay alive.

In passing SHB 2049, the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee did not eliminate the Washington Management Service. But in the interest of “finding every possible efficiency,” the bill commits “to review the state’s senior management and exempt services and understands that possible refinements in the service are needed.” The bill still requires reports on the number of exempt and WMS positions and special pay given out. But amendments require those reports yearly instead of twice a year.

The committee also passed HB 1920, the bill explicitly allowing legislators to visit worksites and meet with employees. The bill came about after the Department of Ecology barred 22nd District legislators from setting foot on the premises for an annual lunchtime briefing on upcoming legislative issues. HB 1920 would amend the state ethics law to explicitly allow those informational and educational sessions with lawmakers.

February 19, 2009


The unprecedented early revenue forecast due out today is expected to show the state’s 2009-2011 budget deficit will push past $8 billion. That will set off a new round of talk about draconian cuts to the quality services that make this state great.

Amidst this, the respected Economic Opportunity Institute has just issued a new report that says the all-cuts, slash-and-burn method is the worst thing to do.

The report, “Recession Reaches Washington: A State Response,” provides some good food for thought. We may not agree with all of it, but it shows the smart thinking about how to save our state, quality services and jobs.

Download the full report.

The report’s author, Marilyn Watkins, said the all-cuts approach didn’t work during the last recession after Sept. 11, 2001.

“It is more important than ever that the state avoid drastic spending cuts that could feed the downward spiral,” the EOI report says. “The 2001 recession provides clear evidence of public policies not to follow. The federal government enacted tax cuts focused on the wealthy. Washington state relied primarily on cuts in public services to balance the budget. With these policies, Washington, along with much of the country, endured a three-year job slump. Job levels of 2000 were not attained again until 2004. Once economic growth resumed, most of the benefits went to the wealthiest while the majority of families struggled….

“Unfortunately, Washington state appears poised to repeat the mistakes of the last recession by slashing public services—and jobs—which could deepen and prolong the effects of the recession locally.”

The EOI report says the “all-cuts” approach adopted by Gov. Chris Gregoire will harm the economy.

“She has not proposed any state revenue increases,” the report says. “Federal money is likely to offset some state reductions, particularly in health care, but substantial cuts in both services and public jobs will occur without new state revenue.

“The no-new-taxes approach is likely to deepen Washington’s recession. Layoffs of public sector workers are as damaging to the local economy as private sector layoffs.”

The EOI report says our current economic crisis has been made worse by the $900 million in tax exemptions granted by the Legislature over the past five years.

The EOI report basically says we can’t cut our way out of this deficit and calls for new revenue sources.

“Pursuing policies now that both inject money into the state economy and bolster economic security for working families will help stop the erosion of the middle class and rebuild a sustainable economy for coming decades…,” the report says.

The EOI report identifies more than $1.4 billion in new revenue, including $360 million from a business and occupation increase on oil refineries run by companies that have made a killing with rising fuel prices. Other revenue ideas include: $136.5 million from a sales tax on security brokers; $119.6 million from a B&O increase for lawyers, lobbyists and other professionals; and $722.4 million in surcharges on non-nutritious food items, like soft drinks, candy and gum.

Again, food for thought that we hope sets off an out-of-the-box debate on alternatives to the disastrous all-cuts approach.


2/19/09 Economic & Revenue Forecast Council report (TVW)

2/19/09 Economic & Revenue Forecast Presentation


Lawmakers from Pacific County have introduced legislation in both the House and Senate that would save Naselle Youth Camp by allowing juvenile courts to send youthful offenders there directly for treatment.

Naselle Youth Camp is not mentioned in the bills, but it is the site for the direct-to-treatment option.

The save Naselle measures, SB 6039 and HB 2234, are backed by all three 19th District legislators.

The bills may not pass committee by the first major cutoff deadline Feb. 25, but Sen. Brian Hatfield of the 19th District told The (Longview) Daily News that Naselle Youth Camp has the backing of the powerful chair of the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee, Sen. Jim Hargrove of the adjoining 24th District.

“When you have a policy chair looking out for you, it’s certainly a good thing,” Hatfield told the newspaper.

The bills could also play a role in final budget negotiations.

The governor wants to close Naselle Youth Camp.

February 18, 2009


Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux urged senators to oppose the health insurance takeaway bill, SB 5898, in a Wednesday morning hearing in the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee.

SB 5898, among other things, would adjust the state’s share—meaning your share—of health care costs. Phony “health savings accounts” would be offered, but those allowances mean higher costs.

“We do have grave concerns…,” Devereux said.

“We do not support temporarily adjusting the state share of spending on state employee, school employee and retiree benefits.”

He also opposed the health savings accounts, removal of key eligibility language and duplication of functions now performed by DSHS and the Health Care Authority.

“Our problem really now is not ideas,” Devereux said. “Our problem is a lack of funding for all programs.”

The union is willing to work with the bill’s sponsors on “ideas that result in improvements to our health care system that don’t result in takeaways,” he said.

The committee’s chair, Sen. Karen Keiser of the 33rd District, told the bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Cheryl Pflug of the 5th District: “I’m not sure this is the right approach, but I’m willing to hear it (the bill).” The hearing was sparsely attended.

More than 100 Federation members from across the state converged on the Capitol Campus in Olympia on Monday’s Presidents’ Day holiday to fight the governor’s “all-cuts budget.”

Locals from the entire I-5 corridor, Yakima and the Olympic Peninsula met one-on-one with legislators to give first-hand accounts of the devastating effects of the governor’s proposed budget on the vulnerable, public safety, health, recreation and the environment.

It comes during a week when an unprecedented early preview of the next revenue forecast comes out. Also up are several hearings on higher education cuts and a major legislative attack on your health benefits.

The highlight of Monday’s action came at a coalition rally organized by Seattle Local 304, which includes Seattle Community College.

“This is not the time to cut jobs,” Federation President Carol Dotlich told the Local 304 rally. “When you’re trying to save the economy, preserving a job costs far less than creating an entirely new job….

“This is the quality of your life. This is the quality of life for your neighborhoods, your communities and your entire state….

“We have to fight the all-cuts budget.”

“It hurts all over the place as far as I’m concerned,” said Janice Melrose, a fiscal technician 1 at the Seattle Vocational Institute and a member of Local 304.

“The cuts will hurt public safety,” said Judy Kuschel, a Community Corrections officer 3 in Vancouver and member of Local 313. “They’re going to make a lot of criminals unsupervised and victims of violence won’t have offenders monitored.”

“The cuts disproportionately affect weaker members of society in order to protect the richest members of society,” said Dan D’Haem, a WorkFirst program specialist in Seattle and member of Local 843. “So it’s like the anti-Robin Hood.”

“There’s 60,000 state employees who are all taxpayers and voters in this state and we contribute to the economy and we work, we pay taxes and we provide services in all agencies,” said Diane Rauschenberg, an adult training specialist 2 at Rainier School in Buckley and a member of Local 491.

February 14, 2009


The bill to privatize DSHS Child Welfare Services got a polite hearing but firm Federation opposition in a hearing Friday in the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.

“Legislation compelling that all Child Welfare Services be privatized is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” said Ursula Petters, a social worker 4 in Bremerton and member of Local 1181.

“We support performance-based service delivery, but we can do that with reform within the agency in concert with our community-based partners.”

The sponsor of SB 5943, Sen. Jim Hargrove of the 24th District, said he introduced the measure because, he said, there’s little improvement despite an additional 821 employees over the past 10 years.

“The current system…is dysfunctional,” Hargrove said. “Our trends are going in the wrong direction.”

The problem is insufficient resources everywhere, said Jeanine Livingston, the Federation’s contracting compliance director.

“The underlying theme is that both the public and private sectors are experiencing caseworker burnout, turnover and inadequate recruiting of experienced social workers,” Livingston said.

SB 5943 ignores the experience in other states and several recent studies and task forces in this state.

“This bill fundamentally betrays the very professionals who directly serve some of the most vulnerable citizens of this state by putting them out of work, without benefits or retirement, and dissolves the experience and institutional knowledge of this state’s children and families at a time when such resources are precious and rare,” she said.

A House bill taking a more thoughtful approach gets a hearing next week in the House Early Learning and Children’s Services Committee.


The Federation-initiated bill (HB 2049) to eliminate the Washington Management Service came to a simple question posed by its prime sponsor at a hearing Friday in the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee.

“Is WMS now serving the needs which we originally started out to assign it?” asked Rep. Larry Seaquist of the 26th District.

WMS was created in 1993 to give the state some flexibility in the hiring of managers. But it’s lost its way, Seaquist said. Many WMS positions have been created for technical, not managerial, skills, he said.

His intent in sponsoring the bill is to “radically downsize” the managerial corps and take a “serious whack at the numbers here.”

WMS started out with just 400 positions, and now has 4,609 positions. It has decreased from a high of about 5,312 in 2003.

Mike Sellars of the Department of Personnel opposed the bill because Gov. Gregoire has taken steps to cut its size. By 2006, 1,100 management positions, the bulk in WMS, had been trimmed, he said. In 2005, WMS made up 9.2 percent of state employees; that’s now 7.5 percent, he said.

“This legislation is not necessary,” Sellars said.

Dennis Eagle, the Federation’s director of legislative and political action, called WMS “modern-day patronage” and it’s time for it to go.

“There have been over the years repeated attempts to reform the Washington Management Service and it’s our belief that none have really succeeded…,” Eagle said.

“As it was originally intended, there would be an opportunity to create a core of professional managers. But our experience has been too often it’s simply an opportunity to circumvent regular civil service rules and grant promotions and salaries to select employees above and beyond what you would be able to do otherwise.

“We believe the time has come to put the Washington Management Service back on the shelf and maybe we try something else in the future.”

HB 2049 would also make it easier to get information on bonuses and other special pay granted to WMS and exempt managers, Eagle said.

Ecology members recently did a study of WMS pay, but getting the information was not easy.

The bill would require twice-yearly reports on the number of classified and non-classified employees and the number and cost of special pay.

The bill would also make it harder for agencies to convert vacant classified positions to exempt and WMS positions.

February 12, 2009


Audio only available at time of posting.

Amid talks of closures and conversions, a delegation of Federation juvenile rehabilitation members on Thursday asked legislators to reject those proposals in the governor's all-cuts budget.

"It's not prudent or efficient to throw the baby out with the bath water," said Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich.

"One vital component of our success is our ability to provide individualized treatment to kids who have complex needs," said Gabe Hall, a juvenile rehabilitation supervisor at Green Hill School in Chehalis and a member of Local 862. "To do this effectively there has to be a safe environment conducive to learning. Not even summer camp mixes young kids with older teens. Our formula has provided great outcomes, but its chemistry is fragile."

Closures or consolidation will put residents with a lower risk of re-offenders in with more hardened youthful offenders, said Brian McElfresh, a mental health coordinator at Maple Lane School in Grand Mound and a member of Local 1926.

"Does an unsophisticated resident at Naselle belong with the more hardened population at Green Hill or among the mental health population at Maple Lane School or the 13 and 14 year olds at Echo Glen?" he asked.

The proposed closure of Naselle Youth Camp in Pacific County would have a detrimental effect on the rest of the juvenile rehabilitation continuum of care, said Jerry Elliott, who works at the youth camp and is a member of Local 2263.

Its closure would have a "domino effect" leading to overcrowding elsewhere and problems for treatment, security and management of disruptive behavior, he said.

"Naselle Youth Camp is not underutilized, it is not disposable, it is not irrelevant in the continuum of care provided by JRA," Elliott said.

Brian Shirley, a juvenile rehabilitation residential counselor at the Oakridge Group Home in Lakewood and a member of Local 793, said "these community residential facilities are vital to the JRA continuum of care."

"The institutions, the group homes and parole are all intertwined," he said. "We all depend on the other legs of our treatment stool to provide the kind of care our complex kids need. Any reductions to direct services with one will harm effectiveness with another."

Juvenile parole services are also vital, where "now it's time to come home" for youthful offenders who have been rehabilitated, said Linnea Elmer, a juvenile rehabilitation community counselor in Olympia and a member of Local 443.

"In parole, we serve about 600 youth, many of them in the important 16 and 17-year-old age group," she said. "We need to get to them so they don't end up in adult prisons. We need to help their transition back into the community."

"But in the short-term, let's reject the governor's all-cuts strategy," McElfresh said. "Making cuts for the sake of cuts is penny-wise and pound-foolish."


For years, Ecology members have invited local legislators to talk about upcoming issues in the Legislature.

But this year, legislators were told to stay away because the head of the state Executive Ethics Board said such visits might constitute lobbying.

So one of the shunned lawmakers, Rep. Sam Hunt of the 22nd District, sponsored a bill to make it clear that legislators "do in fact have a right and in fact a responsibility" to meet with state employees on the worksite.

House Bill 1920 would explicitly allow such legislator-employee informational and educational meetings.

"This is one of those bills that shouldn't even have to happen but has to happen," Hunt said during Thursday's hearing before the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee. Hunt chairs the committee.

Local 443 Ecology member Paul Pickett and the Federation's Dennis Eagle urged support for the bill. Also indicating support were the state troopers association and the Public School Employees.

Pickett, a shop steward at Ecology, had been arranging such informational meetings with legislators for about 10 years.

"The Ethics Board for some time has been following a line of reasoning that far exceeds what the Legislature intended with the ethics law...," Eagle said.

"The Ethics Board is undeterred in drifting far beyond what the Legislature ever intended in the law."

Melanie DeLeon, executive director of the Ethics Board, opposed HB 1920.

She said the term "informational and educational meetings" could be construed as lobbying.

That set off a testy exchange between DeLeon and the committee.

"There is no way for us to know what you mean by informational or educational matters," DeLeon said.

"We can't use common sense, then?" Hunt asked.

"I can use common sense, but I don't know if your common sense and my common sense are the same," DeLeon retorted.

"I think we can help maybe clarify definitions, but I'm not sure we can get to one that defines common sense," said Rep. Gary Alexander of the 20th District back to DeLeon.

That's it for now. Call late Friday for the next message.


February 11, 2009


A Thurston County Superior Court judge on Wednesday afternoon ruled against the Federation in the lawsuit against the governor for failing to forward a funding request for your contracts to the Legislature.

Judge Anne Hirsch ruled that a strict look at the collective bargaining statute required her to rule against the union. She said the law requires the contracts to be negotiated, ratified and submitted to the state Office of Financial Management by Oct. 1. Then they must be certified as “financially feasible” by the OFM director, which he did not do. Without both those conditions, the judge ruled, the governor does not have to forward a request to the Legislature.

In her ruling, the judge noted that “certification” is not defined in the collective bargaining statute, so she relied on the dictionary definition.

And the judge did not rule on other parts of the union’s overall lawsuit, including the unfair labor practice allegation and state Rep. Brendan Williams’s contention that the 2002 legislation on collective bargaining can’t tie the hands of the 2009 Legislature if lawmakers want to go forward debating contract funding without a request from the governor.

Judge Hirsch did agree to the Federation’s request to OK the case for possible consideration by the state Court of Appeals on the important legal issues.

The union will continue to pursue an appeal and other avenues to free the contracts from limbo. As it stands, the statute does not allow the Legislature to consider the contracts or take a no vote, the only way renegotiations can occur. Unless you are allowed back to the bargaining table, any sacrifices you may wish to make to save co-workers’ jobs won’t have any effect.

While the judge ruled against the union, she did take the governor to task for her behavior in the episode.

Judge Hirsch said the governor’s choice of OFM as both the bargaining agent for the state and the entity that certifies financial feasibility of the contracts “muddy and blur” the act of negotiation and the act of certification.

The judge also noted that in the two previous rounds of bargaining, she forwarded a funding request even though the OFM director had not certified them as financially feasible.

And she chided the OFM director for issuing a letter of non-certification just a day before the governor unveiled her budget Dec. 18. “The budget had obviously been completed by then,” Judge Hirsch said, giving unions no opportunity to propose a return to the bargaining table.

That’s it for now. Call Friday for the next message.


Rep. Ruth Kagi, chair of the House Early Learning and Children’s Services Committee, has introduced a thoughtful alternative to the Senate bill that would privatize Child Welfare Services.

Kagi’s bill, HB 2106, would direct the DSHS Children’s Administration to collaborate with community partners stakeholders in what amounts to a pilot project in one region. There, the parties would develop a plan to put in place a core set of performance-based contracts to provide an array of evidence-based and promising prevention and early intervention services to children and families who are at risk for an out-of-home placement or the filing of a dependency petition.

Kagi’s HB 2106 stands in stark contrast to SB 5943, which would privatize all of Child Welfare Services. The bill has a hearing Friday in the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee. (read article on Hargrove bill here)

So, today we expand the call to action opposing SB 5943 because House members will now consider the Kagi alternative. TAKE ACTION Now!


Efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s mental health system, including at the three mental health facilities, came under the legislative microscope Tuesday at a hearing before the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.

Greg Davis, a psychiatric security nurse at Eastern State Hospital in Medical Lake and a member of Local 782, told the committee in his hospital there are many questionable management positions that don’t deliver direct services.

“I can’t say we have extra money laying around, but we could redeploy staff resources so we have more frontline workers on the wards…,” Davis said. “We can have 14 management staff that provide no direct care, or we can have 42 additional direct-care staff-it’s a no brainer to me.”

Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich said at Western State Hospital, members want to make sure the economy doesn’t dilute the efforts to cut the unacceptable level of patient assaults on staff.

“Because it’s neither efficient nor economical to allow the assaults to continue,” he said. “In tough economic times, assaults suck up state dollars in terms of workers’ comp. payouts.”


The Senate counterpart to the House bill establishing search and arrest authority for Community Corrections officers got a boost, this time in the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.

SB 5700, like HB 1792, would allow CCOs to search offenders on Department of Corrections property. The bill is supported by DOC.

“This bill is good legislation,” said Ginger Richardson, a CCO in Seattle and member of Local 308. “”It helps protect state employees.”

February 10, 2009


Senate Bill 5943, the bill to privatize DSHS Child Welfare Services, comes up for a hearing this Friday, Feb. 13, in the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.

That hearing is 8 a.m., Friday, Feb. 13, in Senate Hearing Room 1 in the John A. Cherberg Building on the Capitol campus in Olympia.

Child Welfare social workers provide key services in the continuum of care for abused and neglected children, from case management to home visits.

SB 5943 mandates privatization of Child Welfare Services by 2012. Recent studies and task forces have recommended more surgical changes, like shifting some duties to non-case-carrying workers. Some types of public-private partnerships may work.

But wholesale contracting out is not the solution. Private companies won’t match the pay and benefits of state social workers. So there will be higher turnover. Companies will end up recruiting inexperienced workers. There won’t be the same training available. Tragedies will occur.

So, in the days leading up to Friday’s hearing, please call your senator to oppose SB 5943. Here’s the call to action:


• Call your state senator at 1-800-562-6000.

• Urge her or him to oppose SB 5943, the bill privatizing DSHS Child Welfare Services.

• SB 5943 doesn’t solve the workload and service delivery problem—it makes it worse.

• Private vendors can’t match the pay and accountability of state social workers.

• Privatization will bring high turnover, inexperienced workers and an erosion in quality services for kids.

• SB 5943 ignores recent studies and cuts hundreds of working class jobs.

• Respectfully ask for a response.

• Call on your own time and on your own cell phone.


The Federation on Monday boosted a pair of bills increasing the discretion of Community Corrections officers to protect public safety.

HB 1839 authorizes the Department of Corrections (DOC) to require an offender sentenced to community custody to submit to searches without reasonable cause to believe that he or she has violated a condition or requirement of his or her sentence if the search is a condition of the offender's community custody.

It has other improvements to help CCOs do their job, such as:

• Requires a DOC hearing officer to give due consideration to the CCOs recommendation regarding the sanction for an offender who has violated a condition

• Requires the DOC to hire additional CCOs to the extent that funding is provided in the operating budget.

“We believe that it makes our job safer,” said Ton Johnson, a CCO in King County and member of Local 308. “It creates the ability for us to perform the tasks that we’re assigned in a safe manner.”

HB 1839 allows CCOs to exercise “our professional discretion and we ought to be able to utilize it,” Johnson said.

The other bill up before the House Human Services Committee was HB 1792, expanding the search and arrest authority of CCOs. That includes pat searches on DOC property and in its vehicles.

“One of the basic principles of corrections is that creating a safe environment for offenders to rehabilitate,” Johnson said.

February 8, 2009


The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council will hold an extraordinary early look at the next revenue forecast to see how much worse the budget situation can get.

The council will issue a preliminary forecast Feb. 19, a full month before the regular forecast is due.

"The preliminary forecast is meant to provide the Legislature, at its request, with early guidance regarding the impact of deteriorating economic conditions on state revenues since the official November 2008 forecast," the council said in a press release.

That means we have to keep getting calls into your legislators to oppose the governor's all-cuts budget and instead look at innovative ways to raise revenue to preserve the quality services this state's citizens expect in good times and bad.


  • Call your two House members and senator at 1-800-562-6000.

  • Urge them to reject the all-cuts budget proposed by the governor in HB 1244 and SB 5600.

  • These cuts hurt Washington's quality services.

  • Instead, let's look at sensible solutions to save our state, the vulnerable, public safety, health, recreation and the environment.

  • Respectfully ask for a response.

  • Call on your own time and on your own cell phone.

    Sen. Jim Hargrove, chair of the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee, has introduced SB 5943 to contract out Child Welfare Services. Federation members in the DSHS Children's Administration will of course be weighing in on this with a thoughtful and firm response.

    It comes in the wake of the release of the legislatively mandated Children's Administration Social Worker Workload Report.

    That report came up for review Friday, Feb. 6, in the House Early Learning and Children's Services Committee. There, the Federation's Jeanine Livingston repeated the union's position that some social worker duties could be transferred to non-case carrying staff. But there's "not enough analysis to make a recommendation" on contracting out any of those duties, she said.

    We'll keep you updated. But tough economic times are not the time to do wholesale contracting out.

    February 6, 2009


    Thurston County Superior Court Judge Anne Hirsch on Friday morning heard arguments in the Federation lawsuit against the governor over our contracts.

    But she put off a ruling until at least 3 p.m., next Wednesday, Feb. 11. She asked for more briefings from the attorneys on a few issues she raised.

    As you know, the issue is the governor’s refusal to forward your negotiated economic package to the Legislature so they can vote it up or down. A thumbs down by the Legislature triggers re-negotiation of your contracts. That way, if you choose to cut hours, take furloughs or suggest other options, you’ll have guarantees that it will save the jobs of your co-workers and preserve programs vital to our state’s most vulnerable and for public safety. Right now, the governor’s budget takes away economic gains and still lays off co-workers and cuts vital programs. If the judge rules in our favor, the debate can formally move to the Legislature, where it belongs.

    “There’s a lot at stake—that may be an understatement,” Federation attorney Ed Younglove told the judge.

    The court arguments centered on when the state budget director certified the contracts as financially feasible or not.

    But the bottom line is: If the governor does not forward, the Legislature cannot consider; and if the Legislature can’t debate and vote up or down, then there is no contract—economic or non-economic parts all are in jeopardy.

    At one point, Judge Hirsch asked the assistant attorney general representing the governor about what happens between Oct. 1 when contracts must be submitted to the budget office and Dec. 18 when the governor rolls out her budget package. The judge asked that if the governor can decide not to fund the contract during that period then does the whole negotiating process really mean anything. The judge also asked if the issue really centers on the Legislature’s decision on how to fund or not fund the contracts. Younglove agreed, saying the case boils down to giving the Legislature the opportunity to do that.

    We’ll keep you updated.

    February 5, 2009


    Some 400 community members and Federation members turned out for last night's Save Naselle Youth Camp town hall meeting at Naselle High School in Pacific County.

    Interim DSHS Secretary Stan Marshburn and other top DSHS officials faced the crowd that was adamant about saving the youth camp that's been an effective place for the rehabilitation of youthful offenders. Business leaders also said the youth camp is one of chronically depressed Pacific County's top five employers, and its loss of Naselle Youth Camp would have a devastating impact on the local economy.

    Compelling pleas came from people like, Richie Whitwer, a "graduate" of Naselle.

    "Staff at Naselle broke barriers, helped me make myself vulnerable and then taught me how to handle it," he said. "I came out a successful and productive young man."

    David, who is a current resident of NYC who has also been confined at Green Hill and Maple Lane, wrote a letter to the panel.

    "'The Hill' and 'The Lane' are very scary places," he wrote. "If you look, walk or breath the wrong way, you can get beat up. When you enter the juvenile system, we are told everyone just wants what's best for us. Naselle is best for us."

    Naselle Youth Camp is the only medium security youth facility remaining in Washington's Juvenile Rehabilitation plan and boasts a unique vocational partnership with DNR and Parks.

    Jane Anne Drechnowicz, a member of Local 2263 at the youth camp, explained that residents of NYC are leaders in restitution because of this unique partnership.

    "I have seen the work ethic, I have seen the pride, and I have seen the value of the work," she said. "NYC is a program you can not duplicate anywhere else in the system. You can move the kids, but you can't move the program."

    Timothy Cox, a teacher at Naselle High School, stressed that "hard times don't excuse bad decisions. My kids (NYC residents) are well aware of that. This is not about beds, it's about programs that work - it's about kids."

    Sheriff John Didion urged the panel to "consider past the spreadsheets. This is a criminal justice issue. In my world one person is a crime wave," making the point that a single criminal can account for numerous crimes. "Public safety must be the first priority."

    Speakers did a good of poking holes in a 2004 report justifying the closure. For one thing, it was out of date.

    Many in the crowd questioned forecast of lower demand and pointed to sentencing and detention practices that keep offenders from being assigned to Naselle Youth Camp


    The state's Corrections secretary told a House committee Wednesday night that the assessment tool on which Gov. Chris Gregoire bases her proposed cuts to community supervision did have errors.

    That bolstered Federation Community Corrections members' claims that the assessment tool leads to "false positives" where higher risk offenders actually score lower and would then be bumped off supervision under Gregoire's plan.

    The admission came during a hearing before the House General Government Appropriations Committee.

    "The new assessment tool used to classify offenders is determined by prior conviction," said Bill Copland, a Community Corrections specialist in Kennewick and president of Local 1253. "The tool does not account for plea-bargaining. It rates sex offenders lower and it does not account for mental illness....

    "The result is that some moderate risk offenders should actually be in the high-risk category."

    When pressed by committee Chair Rep. Jeannie Darneille, DOC Secretary Eldon Vail admitted the assessment tool started in August 2008 had errors.

    Vail explained the Washington State Institute for Public Policy had developed the tool.

    Immediately, Federation Community Corrections members raised red flags.

    "They said it strong enough and often enough that we went back to the Washington State Institute for Public Policy and we said would you look at this and they did and they discovered that they had made an error in the construction of the program that we had applied, so after about 60 days of using the first tool, we discovered that and we fixed it and now we're back running with the new one," Vail said.

    Vail said in his opinion the "science of it" is "pretty solid and pretty sound."

    But the risk of the built-in errors is cause for grave concern, Copland told the committee.

    "It flies in the face of common sense to risk the safety of the community on a tool that is not fully implemented and has not been field validated," Copland said. "And it is wrong and potentially tragic to have the governor's budget cuts based on a classification system that eliminates supervision of offenders who very well may need it."

    The overall proposed cuts to DOC community supervision would "gut our efficiency and effectiveness," said Cindy McHie, a Community Corrections officer 3 in Walla Walla and president of Local 396.

    "It would be hard to accomplish our department's mission to 'promote public safety, community protection, and public understanding,'" McHie said.

    The cuts would also eliminate up to 400 jobs, she said.

    "The governor's proposal does hit community safety hard," McHie said. "We urge you to reject her cuts but we'd be willing to work with you on other sensible solutions to keep community supervision effective and a key part of our plan for safer communities."


    Federation Children's Services social workers pressed for action on high workloads and to reject the governor's cuts to other parts of the DSHS Children's Administration as penny-wise and pound-foolish.

    That came during a Wednesday night hearing before the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.

    "One area we must get a handle on-especially in these tough economic times with the demand for our services going up-is the workloads faced by Children's Services social workers," said Tracy Frosty-Wilson, a social worker 3 in Bellingham and a member of Local 1060.

    A joint union-management task force created last year by the Legislature set out to prioritize tasks that might be lifted off the shoulders of social workers. Some progress was made, but the process was too narrowly focused, Frosty-Wilson said.

    She said that opened the door to contracting out some services.

    There must be solid analysis and strict adherence to the law on competitive contracting, she said.

    "It's penny-wise and pound-foolish to move these tasks to private companies that pay less, deliver less and have high turnover...," Frosty-Wilson said.

    "These are tight times. But scrimping on workload relief now will only lead to higher and more tragic costs down the line."

    Julie Seholm, another social worker 3 from Bellingham and a member of Local 1060, joined her.

    Seholm said many of the problems with DSHS are internal governance issues, not with the services provided by social workers.

    "Reform is needed," she told the committee. "But in doing so, let's not penalize those of your dedicated social workers trying to deliver quality services with inadequate resources."

    She also called on legislators to find sensible solutions to reject the governor's proposed cuts to guardianship placements, elimination of secure crisis residential centers, family support services, and funding for trauma mitigation, intensive resource foster homes and sex abuse recognition training.

    "For those on the front lines, this means that higher-needs clients will not receive the services and the placements that they need," Seholm said. This leads to hotel rooms, overtime, per diem and exhausted and overworked social workers. I see lawsuits and tragedy as well as a failure to provide the help to the kids we care for."

    February 4, 2009


    The Federation-initiated bill to eliminate the Washington Management Service will be introduced in the next day or so.

    The bill would end WMS because it has never worked as intended. It’s been used by agencies to circumvent normal personnel rules. The bill would not mean any positions would be lost, but that they’d be subject to the same set of personnel rules as everyone else.

    The bill would also make it a little harder for agencies to convert classified positions to non-classified positions by allowing a union to appeal the reclassification even if the position is vacant.

    It would also bring transparency by requiring agencies to report to the governor and the public twice a year on the number of classified and non-classified employees. It would also report on the number and cost of performance-based incentives awarded to agency staff.

    We’ll keep you updated when the bill is formally introduced.


    The bill initiated by Federation Ecology members to explicitly protect your right to attend informational or educational meetings with legislators and elected officials has been introduced.

    House Bill 1920 stems from recent actions by Ecology management that appeared to shut out legislators from coming onsite to meet with employees.

    The bill would also say it’s not a violation of ethics laws to hold such informational meetings in a state office. The bill strictly prohibits political meetings.

    HB 1920 has been referred to the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee. The bill is sponsored by that committee’s chair, Rep. Sam Hunt of the 22nd District.

    February 3, 2009


    Little has been made of the governor's Monday press conference in which she feted five state ferry system unions representing 1,500 workers who voluntarily re-negotiated their contracts to give up their pay raises to help the unique needs of their program.

    For the remaining 58,000 state workers, all eyes focus on this Friday's court date over the governor's refusal to forward your negotiated economic package to the Legislature so they can vote it up or down.

    A thumbs down by the Legislature triggers re-negotiation of your contracts. That way, if you choose to cut hours, take furloughs or suggest other options, you'll have guarantees that it will save the jobs of your co-workers and preserve programs vital to our state's most vulnerable and for public safety. Right now, the governor's budget takes away economic gains and still lays off co-workers and cuts vital programs. That's a lose-lose deal.

    We're hoping the judge sorts out this polite dispute over process. If the judge rules in our favor, the debate can formally move to the Legislature, where it belongs.

    There, you will be able to provide alternatives to the governor's all-cuts-now-but-pay-more-later budget plan. Alternatives like closing tax loopholes. Alternatives like squeezing every possible efficiency out to preserve vital programs. Opportunities to capture the $100 million in matching federal funds available to fund your contracts-amounting to half the funding needed. That $100 million in federal funds amounts to an economic stimulus because it would end up in your pocket and pumped back into the economy.

    And to set the record straight, the governor's own budget director told a House committee Jan. 12 he didn't "have the authority" to re-open negotiations with the Federation. We hope the court resolves this limbo the governor's action has put you in.

    February 2, 2009


    The small town of Naselle in Pacific County is fighting for its economic life and has made the future of Naselle Youth Camp a major part of that battle.

    Already, just the possibility of closure is having a negative economic impact. For instance, a favorite coffee stand, The Cool Cow Coffee Company, is going out of business. In a notice posted at the door, owner Natalie Morgan said her business can’t make it “with the possibility of the closing of the youth camp, one of the shop’s loyal customer bases.”

    The community is staging a town hall meeting this Wednesday. The Save Naselle Youth Camp Town Hall meeting will be 7 p.m., this Wednesday, Feb. 4, at Naselle High School Commons. Also slated to attend are interim DSHS Secretary Stan Marshburn and top DSHS Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration officials.


    We’re hearing rumors from our members at JRA that other juvenile rehab institutions could be on the chopping block, not just Naselle Youth Camp.

    At this point, Green Hill School, Maple Lane School and Echo Glen Children’s Center, along with JRA probation and parole and JRA group homes could all be at risk.

    Our lobbyists need representatives from each area of JRA to join an action team to get the message to legislators of the value of all JRA programs in the continuum of care for community safety and the beneficial impact our members have on the youthful offenders in their care.

    CALL TO ACTION: Call your legislators at 1-800-562-6000 and urge them to save Naselle Youth Camp and all JRA programs and institutions. If the operators ask for a bill number, tell them it’s in the governor’s budget bills, HB 1244 and SB 5600.