September 9, 2010

Bargaining to continue in General Government as state confirms compensation proposal it's talked about in the press for weeks

It should be no surprise to you that the state finally presented its General Government compensation article that would freeze pay and cut step increases from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013.
Their Article 42 proposal had been expected because the governor and her budget director had been discussing it in the press for weeks but their negotiators were silent on it at the bargaining table.

Their compensation article proposed other takeaways that we’ll be telling you about in days to come. They affect significant groups of our members but are somewhat technical. We want to get our ducks in a row to refute the proposals.

We’ll be calling on you for help.

Coupled with the state’s bargaining proposal on health care – which would more than double your share of health premiums from 12 percent to 26 percent – the compensation article is an insult. An insult to the 40,000 heroes who make up this union. They deserve better. And the state ought to know better.

In these tough times, we expected proposals to keep pay and benefits level. We did not expect the significant takeaways the state has proposed.

We’ve told you a lot about the health care travesty. To date, we have not heard back from the state on a realistic counterproposal that has some basis for negotiations leading to a fair settlement.

Even if they do, it looks more and more like the path to a fair contract with no takeaways leads through the halls of the state Capitol. Legislators ultimately will have to make the policy decisions on such things as use of reserve funds and closing tax loopholes to keep premiums and costs at current levels in 2012 and 2013.

(The 2011 health program has already been funded at current levels, thanks to union action this past legislative session and using the current contract.)

Your heroic job actions have made a difference. But we all know it’s time to take it up a notch. More job actions, sure. But this November’s election will play a critical role. State employees need good legislators when it comes time for the policy decisions needed to keep your benefits level in these times of budget deficits. If you want to find ways to help in legislative campaigns, call our Legislative and Political Action Department at 1-800-562-6002.

And don’t forget: Observers say to win on health care and getting a fair contract with no takeaways, the five bad initiatives on the Nov. 2 ballot would have to be defeated. Those include:  I-1082 to privatize the quality workers’ compensation program provided by our Labor and Industries members; I-1053, Tim Eyman’s latest scheme to make it nearly impossible to repeal even a fraction of this state’s $14 billion in eligible tax loopholes; the measures to privatize liquor (I-1100 and I-1105); and I-1107, repealing taxes on candy, bottled water and soda pop. All these would cut hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. That lost revenue would worsen the deficit, make it harder to repeal some tax loopholes and dampen chances to win the policy changes to keep your health benefits costs at current levels.

Concerned members can find out how to help by visiting our website at or calling our Legislative and Political Action Department at 1-800-562-6002.


Bargaining is tentatively set to resume Sept. 28 and 29. In the latest round of bargaining Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 8 and 9), the team reached tentative agreement on five more articles, bringing to 31 the number of signed-off articles. But 23 articles remain open. Your bargaining team worked long hours to ship plenty of proposals to management’s side, but little came back, except the expected pay and step increase freeze – expected but still insulting coming from this state’s largest employer, which sometimes acts as if it’ some rural general store in Mississippi (or wherever Hooterville was).

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