April 5, 2010

Time to channel your furlough anger to make final push for health care funding

It’s time to channel the anger over what lawmakers did to you by passing the furlough bill.

Even though your hard work mitigated ESSB 6503 tremendously, the savings generated – about $45 million – will be cancelled out by overtime and other costs.

Just look at Oregon.

There, lawmakers passed a furlough bill for the 2009-2011 budget to save $40.8 million. But in just one Oregon agency –Human Services – overtime costs for the last three months of 2009 ended up costing $3.4 million. You can do the math and figure out the Oregon furloughs will have symbolic value only and won’t do a damn thing to close any budget gaps.

The same could happen here.

The word from the Senate is senators will concur with the changes made to the furlough bill on April 2 and send it to the governor’s desk. 

That shouldn’t stop you from calling the Legislature’s hotline at 1-800-562-6000 to urge your senator to vote no on the amended furlough bill and urge the governor not to sign ESSB 6503 if it gets to her desk.
Remember, you have gone to the mat to stop the furlough bill and the way it turned out is a bill that is still bad but not as bad as it originally was.

And as the press is reporting, we have put the state on notice we may sue if furloughs are ever imposed because many state workers would then be treated differently than others in the same job classifications.

Note to state: Remember the 100s of millions of dollars this union won for pay equity (comparable worth) and to correct disparities between General Government and Higher Education pay (the Shroll lawsuit), among others. We are very good at righting wrongs in court.
But now it’s time to channel your anger in the short-term and push health care funding through.


The House wants $65 million to keep a lid on health costs for the rest of this biennium, through June 30, 2011. The Senate needs to go along. 

So this week, fight like hell so they don’t do to you on health care what they did to you on the furlough bill. 

We know you’ve called and e-mailed and rallied and visited lawmakers. But the marathon session is almost done—we need to keep up the pace through to the finish line.

  • Call 1-800-562-6000. Tell legislators to fund state worker health insurance with at least $65 million in General Fund-State funds in the final budget (ESSB 6444) for state employee health care. And no mandate to bargain over premiums! Instead, close tax loopholes on big out-of-state banks in the final state budget (ESSB 6444) so we can keep health care funded, stable and affordable for our families.

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