November 19, 2009

WFSE/AFSCME mourns tragic death of Neal Richards

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy of WSDOT.

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

WFSE/AFSCME responses to governor

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

Read response here.

November 17, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Politics at the Poodle Dog (Fife)

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

November 13, 2009

Webinar: What You Need to Know About H1N1 Flu

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

Click here for more information and to sign up.

Open Enrollment for Health Insurance runs until Nov. 30

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

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

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

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

November 12, 2009

Final Institutions Closures Report Issues


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

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

The report came out Nov. 4.

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

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

November 5, 2009

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

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

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

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

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