July 30, 2009

Howard Ocobock Memorial Campouts in September!

Sign-up now for one - or both - Howard Ocobock Memorial Campouts with WFSE/AFSCME.

The first is 9/12-13 at the Lewis & Clark State Park; the second on 9/26-27 at Camp Delany at Sun Lakes State Park.

Registration deadline is 9/1/09.

July 28, 2009

WFSE callers are jamming the lines - keep calling.

UPDATE: National Call In Day for Affordable Health Care Now!

Seattle field and LPA staffers, along with local members, are literally sweating it out right now at the Health Care for America NOW rally in Seattle.

We've just learned that we are 3rd in the nation for calls received so we need to keep pressing the rest of the day.

Keep up the good work and keep pushing those calls this afternoon.

July 27, 2009

This is it - the moment where we help make history

WFSE/AFSCME Council 28 members are making a difference in the fight for health care reform with over 2500 letters and calls in just the past week - but you can't stop yet. We all need to make those calls again - tomorrow.

Tomorrow, we're going to make sure that Congress hears us loud and clear. We're going to participate in a National Day of Action where 50,000 Americans will contact Congress to demand quality, affordable health care now. Will you join us?

As I write this, your member of Congress is deciding how to vote on HR 3200, America's Affordable Health Care Choices Act. You'd be surprised just how much impact your actions can make.

So, please - make the call. Here's a sample script:

  • HR 3200 -- America's Affordable Health Choices Act -- will save taxpayers an average of $2,200 per year and will impact only the highest income earners.
  • Passing health care reform will save us all money. Not passing it will save millionaires money.
  • Small business owners all across our country support this bill. You should, too.
  • Fixing America's health care crisis will fix our economy and get our country back on track. The time is now.
  • I urge you to vote for HR 3200, America's Affordable Health Care Choices Act.

Many, many Americans will be making this call tomorrow - so if you don't get through, or reach a full mailbox, smile and know that you are among thousands across America doing the same. Try again later or use the link below to send your message electronically. Either way will do.

Click here to send a message electronically now.

This health care reform bill will save taxpayers an average of $2,200 per year¹ and will impact only the highest income earners.² Passing health care reform will save you money. Not passing it will save millionaires money. Will your representative choose the millionaires or you?

One of the excuses that some members of Congress use to not support health care reform would be that that this bill raises taxes on small business. They couldn't be more wrong. According to the Joint Committee on Taxes, 96 percent of small businesses will have access to more affordable health care under the House bill. That's why small business owners all across America are supporting this bill.

This is your chance to participate in one of the most important issues of our lifetime. This bill guarantees quality, affordable health care for everyone. It will cover the uninsured and lower the costs for those of us who have insurance. Let's pass this bill, so we can all have quality, affordable health care.

Thank you for your action today. It's good to know we can count on you.


April Sims
Field Coordinator, WFSE Legislative & Political Action Department

PS: After you send your message, watch AFSCME's new ad featuring AFSMCE nurses who are on the front lines of the health care crisis, linked in favorites on WFSE's YouTube channel it started airing nationwide on Sunday.

1. Fork in the Road: Alternative Paths to a High Performance U.S. Health System - The Commonwealth Fund
2. How the Health Care Surcharge Works - Congressman Pete Stark

July 24, 2009

National Call In Day for Health Care Reform - July 28th

Help us get 50,000 calls to Congress on July 28th!

The health care reform bill - HR 3200 - being voted on in the House will save you an average of $2800 per year.*

That bill says those who make more than a quarter of a million dollars a year should help pay for reform by rolling back Bush's tax cuts by just 1%.**

Call your Representative today and tell them to stand up for health care.

  • Call 1-888-460-0813 and ask the operator to be connected to your Representative.
  • Once you're connected, please be polite. Ask to talk with someone who can speak to the Representative's position on health care.
  • If the switchboard is busy, you will be able to leave a message for your representative which will be delivered as soon as his or her line is free.

* Fork in the Road: Alternative Paths to a High Performance U.S. Health System - The Commonwealth Fund
** How the Health Care Surcharge Works - Congressman Pete Stark


I'm calling from AFSCME to make sure that Rep. ______ knows that we need health care reform in 2009.

The House health care bill, HR 3200 will provide quality, affordable health care for all with good benefits and affordable costs.

Health care can't wait, please vote for HR 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act BEFORE you leave for vaction.


TV ad exposes vote against reform as vote for insurance companies

On the heels of President Obamas prime time press conference and continued push for comprehensive health care reform, Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) launched a television advertising campaign in eight states,targeting a Senator and seven members of Congress who oppose health care reform legislation. In Washington, Representative Dave G. Reichert (WA-08) is among those targeted.

The ad points out that in voting against reform, the members of Congress would allow health insurance companies to continue to deny people coverage for pre-existing conditions.

July 23, 2009

About those 756 refund checks

Recently a number of WFSE/AFSCME members were mailed dues refund checks. Printed on the check was the notation “756 dues refund check.” Members should cash these checks.

The refunds were generated because, in the past, when members received the $756 healthcare grievance settlement check, the state had mistakenly taken union dues out of the checks. When WFSE/AFSCME investigated the matter, the union determined dues should not have been deducted and refunds were then mailed.

The refunds vary from member to member because the refund is based only on the extra amount of dues or fees the member paid on the settlement amount.

July 21, 2009

Kennewick DOC member elected WFSE/AFSCME VP

The new Federation vice president is Bill Copland, Tri-Cities Local 1253.

The union's Statewide Executive Board meeting in SeaTac Saturday elected Copland from among five nominees. Copland received a majority of votes in a run-off with Sue Henricksen (Local 53,Tacoma).

He succeeds the late Howard Ocobock as union VP. Copland will finish the unexpired VP term until October when his and the three other officer positions come up for election at the union's state convention.

Copland, 37, is president of the union's Local 1253 in Tri-Cities. He is a Community Corrections specialist in the Kennewick Department of Corrections office. He is also active in the union's Conservative Caucus and the Next Wave movement to attract under-35 union members to a more active role in the Federation.

He started state service as a member of Local 1926 at Maple Lane School in Grand Mound, later with DOC in Longview (Local 1400), Pierce and King Counties and finally in Kennewick.

Congressman Jay Inslee needs to hear from you on health care reform

In a matter of days, Congressman Jay Inslee of the 1st Congressional District of our state will vote on HR 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act.

HR 3200 includes all the components working families need for health care reform. Rep. Inlsee needs to hear that.

Call toll free 1-888-460-0813 and ask Congressman Inslee to support HR 3200 to fix our economy and solve the health care crisis with choice and competition.

Tell Congressman Inslee HR 3200 provides a much-needed choice of public health insurance plans to compete with private insurance companies. And it encourages employers to do the responsible thing and provide insurance to their employees or pay into a pot if they don't.

Finally, HR 3200 doesn't pay for reform on the backs of the middle class by taxing our health care benefits.

For more information on the national health care campaign, go to WFSE.org > Action Center.

RESOURCES: HR 3200 Fact Sheet | Call NOW! flyer

State Employees to KOMO TV's Ken Schram: "You put a cork in it!

By now you may know that KOMO TV (Channel 4, Seattle) commentator Ken Schram awarded his "Schrammie Award" to Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux for his passionate defense of state employees when the Public Employees Benefits Board recently raised 2010 health care costs because the Legislature cut funding - when they really didn't have to.

Schram accused Devereux of "whining," that he "got his BVD's all bunched up" and that he "just doesn't have a clue."

"So put a cork in it Greg, and for your 'screw you, gimme mine' attitude, take a bow, because this 'Schrammie' is for you," Schram said in his July 15 broadcast.

Here's how Federation Director of Public Affairs Tim Welch responded:

Thank you, Ken, for awarding the coveted "Schrammie" to Mr. Devereux.

Mr. Devereux, my boss, considers it a badge of honor because it shows you totally understand that the debate in the 2009 Legislature was not about the deficit.

It was not about protecting public safety. It was not about protecting the vulnerable. It was not about how to save quality services. It was about how to stick it to state employees, whether they deserve it or not.

In that regard, you show great promise as a potential legislative candidate we would encourage to run in 2010. You show a commendable knack for going along with the crowd, scratching the surface of an issue, and showing lack of spine and guts.

In fact, we invite you to our offices in Olympia to personally present the "Schrammie" to Mr. Devereux and to meet some of the "greedy" Community Corrections officers, DOT workers, safety inspectors, children's workers, custodians, gardeners, cooks and support staff you have tried to malign with the "Schrammie." They would like to enlighten you about what it is exactly they do and what it is from their perspective they find objectionable about the Legislature's actions.

Within a half hour, Schram shot back to Welch:

"It's comforting to know that your boss, Mr. Devereux, is aware that his myopic view of how to best position himself as a stalwart union leader at the expense of children's services, domestic violence victims and all the people who were kicked off the state's basic health plan, to mention but a few services that have endured dramatic cuts." He added that several state employees had e-mailed him supporting his commentary against Devereux.

Schram ignored the union's gracious invitation for him to present the award to Devereux in person and to meet real, live state employees. But Welch told Schram the invitation still stands.

Funny thing is, by Friday, Schram was publicly singing a different tune. Turns out, state employees weren't supporting his view but basically telling him to put a cork in it.

Schram devoted his weekly piece featuring reader responses to the reaction to his anti-Devereux piece:

Needless to say, some folks took umbrage at my giving Greg grief about that.

Heather Lum writes: "I'm a state worker and work among people who are passionate about supporting people with disabilities to live successfully in their communities. ... There's a lot of state worker bashing lately and frankly, I'm sick of it."

Chris Turner: "State workers have not received a raise in 3 years, you jackass! The raises they were promised - 6 percent - turned out to be (to be around 1 percent)."

Charles Mitchell: "I know we're in a bad (way) right now. ... I don't want a giant raise ... but I would like the public and the people in Olympia to see that we do a good job and should be paid accordingly."

Amber Moore: "Many (state) workers are taking unpaid days to help save the jobs of co-workers. To depict us as greedy is wrong."

And finally from Jason Tribley: "You just don't get it, Schram. Never have. Never will."

Luckily, Federation members and all state employees get it. Now if only the Ken Schrams of the world and legislators got it, too.

July 15, 2009

Devereux wins coveted "Schrammie" award on KOMO 4 TV.

Now it's your turn. Send your comments to Ken Schramm. Follow the link to read the article and leave your comments.

July 14, 2009

Federation steering committee on child welfare pilots forms

Federation President Carol Dotlich has appointed the members of the steering committee overseeing the union's watchdog role in the state's move to set up two Child Welfare Services privatization pilots over the next six years.

The Federation panel, formally known as the Transformation Design Committee Steering Committee, will work on communications to affected members, political and legislative actions and strategizing and research for the actual Transformation Design process.

The Federation's Jeanine Livingston, director of contract compliance, sits on the Transformation Design Committee, along with DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus and several others. The committee came out of legislation signed by the governor, 2SHB 2106. Several critics of the whole privatization process, including the Federation, have representatives on the committee. That committee meets again Sept. 16 and 17.

The Federation steering committee will be vital to keeping members informed and transmitting issues and concerns to Livingston to present to the design committee.

The members of the Federation Transformation Design Committee Steering Committee are:
Tracy Wilson-Fosty, Region 3, Local 1060
Julie Seholm, Region 3, Local 1060
Connie Drake, Region 2, Local 1253
Larry Crumet, Region 1, Local 1221
Terri Jones, Region 1, Local 1221
Maribeth Sheppard, Region 4, Local 843
Sandie Reynolds, Region 5, Local 1181
Ursula Petters, Region 5, Local 1181
Joe Mienko, Region 5, Local 53
Michele Fukawa, Region 6, Local 313
Ed Chapin, Region 6, Local 313
There is still room for another representative from Region 2 and also possibly from unrepresented parts of Region 6 because it covers so much geography.

The Federation steering committee is tentatively set to meet Aug. 8.

To keep up to date, go to the Federation website at www.wfse.org and click on "WFSE Blogs and more." Locate CWS Privatization Pilots and use the link to "request an invite" to send an email the blog administrator. The blog is open only the WFSE CWS members.

Check out all of our blogs while you're at it.

Congressman Adam Smith wants to hear your views on health care

U.S. Congressman Adam Smith of the 9th Congressional District is holding a "Health Care Town Hall Meeting" 10-11:30 a.m., Saturday, July 25, at the Milgard Family HOPE Center, 10402 Kline St. S.W., Lakewood, WA 98499. Space is limited to 200 people, so RSVP by calling (253) 593-6600 or e-mailing Debra.Entenman@mail.house.gov.

July 8, 2009

Devereux blames gutless legislature as benefits board votes 4-3 to raise state employee health insurance rates.

The Public Employees Benefits Board today voted to raise most state employee health insurance premiums, raise or impose deductibles, and hike office visit co-payments and out-of-pocket expense limits.

But the vote was close – 4-3 – with state employee and retirees’ representatives lining up in opposition.

Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux, the state employee representative on the board, laid responsibility for what he called “an absolute travesty” squarely at the feet of the Legislature.

Lawmakers ignored Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposal to add funding to cover the 8 percent health care inflation cost. Instead, legislators essentially zeroed out inflation funding. The Health Care Authority’s package acted on by the board reflected that reality.

But it was Devereux who said the blame is not with the Health Care Authority or the governor, but a Legislature that “could not muster the courage” to find the funding to cover the inflation costs.

The health insurance increases amount to an 8 percent tax on state workers, Devereux said. He noted the irony that the Legislature refused to raise revenues and actually added new tax breaks to the tune of billions of dollars.

“This today is an absolute travesty...” Devereux said. “They (the Legislature) won’t tax anybody else, but they’ll tax state employees….

“I think it’s a crime.”

The Legislature “didn’t have the guts” to provide the health care funds, he said.

“They are destroying the quality of the workforce in this state,” Devereux said.

Devereux, joined by K-12 retirees representative Lee Ann Prielipp, state retirees rep Robert Portertield and non-voting K-12 rep Phil Karlberg, urged the board to turn thumbs down on the package and send it back to the governor to send it back to the Legislature to recover the 8 percent inflation costs.

Devereux, Prielipp and Porterfield voted against the package. Voting in the majority for the package were: HCA Administrator Steve Hill; state Personnel Director Eva Santos; former HCA Administrator Margaret Stanley; and Bellevue Human Resources Director Yvonne Tate.

But here are the lowlights:

  • Premium costs rose with inflation, so the state employee share of 12 percent still translated into a hike, except for Group Health Classic Plan, where rates declined. However, for the first time, Group Health enrollees will pay annual deductibles of up to $750 a year in the classic plan and $1,050 in the value plan. Deductibles were also instituted in the Kaiser Value Plan (but not the Kaiser Classic Plan) and Aetna. The existing annual deductible for those in the Uniform Medical Plan went from $200 for individuals and $600 for families to $250 and $750, respectively.
  • Office visit co-pays will go up. For those in Group Health, that means a 250 percent increase, from $10 to $25.
  • Out-of-pocket expense limit—that’s the maximum annual amount you will need to pay for most services—will take another huge hike. That’s 33 percent in the Uniform Plan alone.

Federation President Carol Dotlich was joined by several of the 25 or so Federation members who turned out for the PEBB meeting to testify against the plan.

Dotlich told the board state employees have already sacrificed more than $1 billion in funding for pay raises, benefits, pensions and jobs to help balance the budget.

“And now with this change, we’re looking at another 8 percent reduction in our pay package,” she said.

Ecology member Pete Kmet said the cost increases will act as a barrier to preventive health care. More routine care for children will be deferred until their health worsens and more costly care is needed, he said.

“As employees, we’re willing to pay our fair share, but this is upside down,” Kmet said.

Kim Lawler, a member at Seattle Central Community College and a member of the Higher Education Coalition Bargaining Team, said the health insurance hikes act as a deduction in pay.

“I really truly feel you need to look at this again,” Lawler said.

Joe Nilsson (Labor and Industries, Local 443) called the increases “counterproductive” and Steve Pointec (Employment Security, Local 443) called them a “horrible shame.”

The new rates go into effect Jan. 1, 2010. Open enrollment starts in late October and runs through November.

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


It's wrong - tell the PEBB no way!

  • Tell PEBB no way to huge hikes in our health care costs! We’ve sacrificed more than $1 billion in funding for pay raises, benefits, pensions and jobs.
  • State employees are already (on average) 13% behind. State employees lag behind counterparts in other parts of the economy. Increasing our health costs will put us farther and farther behind. The economy will recover, but with these huge cuts, it will be hard for us to make up this lost ground.
  • The PEBB proposal goes too far!
    It’s wrong to impose deductibles where they didn’t exist before.
    It’s wrong to jack up office visit co-pays.
    It’s wrong to impose higher out-of-pocket expense limits.
  • The PEBB needs to go back and come up with a sensible plan.
    We need a design plan that recognizes the sacrifices we’ve already made and that respects the economic well being of our families.
  • Can’t attend the meeting?
    You can still tell them what you think about the increases. Call the PEBB at 360-923-2600; or email the PEBB at board@hca.wa.gov.

July 7, 2009


The Public Employees Benefits Board this Wednesday is considering dramatic changes to your health benefits that would see office visit co-pays skyrocket and first-ever deductibles for plans like Group Health.

We need to demonstrate how much our members object to the proposed health insurance increases. Please spread the word and plan to attend if you can!
  • What: Urgent Call to Action - Wear your WFSE Green!
  • When: Wednesday, July 8, 12:30 p.m.
  • Where: Sundial on Capitol Campus (south side of the Capitol, between Cherberg and O’Brien Buildings).
  • Why: The PEBB is meeting from 1-3 p.m. in the Columbia Room in the Capitol to discuss proposed changes to state employee health insurance plans. (See June 26 Hotline message at wfse.org for full details.) These changes include dramatic increases to deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses. Take a look...it's shocking.
  • Questions: Contact Diana Whitmore at WFSE HQ, 1-800-562-6002.
See post below for more information.

July 2, 2009

Speak out against dramatic increases to our health care costs

The Public Employees Benefit Board (PEBB) will consider recommendations for the 2010 health care plans at their next meeting.

Changes under consideration include dramatic increases in office visit co-pays - $10 to $30, dramatic increases in deductibles – three times the current amounts – and dramatic increases in the out of pocket limits for each plan – two to four times the current amounts depending on the plans.

Attend the next PEBB meeting on Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Legislative Building (Rotunda) in the Columbia Room on the 1st floor.

Contact your field office for more information.