February 28, 2011

Stand by for calls to action

The House and Senate will be on the floor this week after last Friday’s fiscal committee deadline. Most House bills must clear the full House and most Senate bills must clear the full Senate by next Monday, March 7. 

There may be several bills that need your help to get out of one of the Rules committees – and bad bills to oppose. Stay tuned.

Comment on Seattle Times article - "Have Washington state workers given their fair share?"

The Seattle Times did a fairly balanced article Saturday on whether you’ve sacrificed enough. Ironically, the article quoted both Republicans and Democrats as saying you haven’t sacrificed enough. 

Go to http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014343172_stateworkers27m.html and leave a comment to refute the comments from Republican Sen. Joe Zarelli and Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom.

Don't forget Thursday's "Save Maple Lane School" rally, Thu., 3/3

Don’t forget to turn out for the “Save Maple Lane School Rally,” this Thursday, March 3, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on  the steps of the state Capitol in Olympia. An injury to one is an injury to all and we must put the brakes on the fast-track closure of this acclaimed juvenile rehabilitation facility in south Thurston County.

Gainsharing Update

The attorney general has struck the March 4 hearing date on the state’s motion for summary judgment. A new date will be set.

February 25, 2011

Take part in solidarity events Saturday in Olympia

Don’t forget to take part in back-to-back responses to the billionaire-funded effort to attack your rights that hits Olympia tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 26.

While the Evergreen Freedom Foundation rallies for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his evil drive against his state workers, we’ll march and then rally to stand up for public servants in Wisconsin and everywhere.

Here’s the schedule for Saturday’s “Save the American Dream” events:

• First, at 10 a.m., meet at Federation Headquarters, 1212 Jefferson St. S.E., Olympia, WA  98501. Meet for breakfast and brief training. At about 10:30, we’ll march to the Capitol campus to have our voices heard while the anti-state employee forces rally.

• After our march, , join the Federation, other unions and our allies for the “Rally to Save the American Dream” at noon, at the Tivoli Fountain, facing Capitol Way, on the Capitol Campus.

Text the keyword WFSE.UNITE to 69866 to RSVP or register online at http://takeaction.wfse.org.

You can contribute to the Wisconsin public workers' defense fund

The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO HAS set up a secure and safe PayPal link to donate to the Worker Defense Fund. Any support you can provide to your union Brothers and Sisters in Wisconsin is much appreciated.
The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO we have set up a secure and safe PayPal link to donate to the Worker Defense Fund. If you would like to donate, please click here. Any support you can provide to your union Brothers and Sisters in Wisconsin is much appreciated.

Don't let the Vancouver Columbian poison the debate on Wisconsin and all public workers

The Columbian has a poll on its website asking if Washington should repeal your collective bargaining rights, just as Gov. Scott Walker is trying to do in Wisconsin. Go the Columbian website and take the poll: http://www.columbian.com/ 

By the way, several Federation locals among others have officially boycotted The Columbian for its anti-state employee editorial positions. So visit their website, take the poll, then get out right away.

Interpreters bill boosted in Senate hearing

The Federation and its newest medical interpreter members joined other supporters to boost Senate Bill 5807 in a hearing Thursday (Feb. 24) in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. 

Magde Rojas (second from left with other WFSE/AFSCME Interpreters United members) testified for SB 5807 Feb. 24 before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. 

The bill would eliminate the multi-layered system of brokers and agents that ends up costing the state and providers time and money – before interpreters actually get to do their job, the union testified.

It also allows use of technology for electronic scheduling and the like to speed up the appointment process while protecting the ability of patients to have in-person interpreters for procedures ranging from childbirth to surgery. Client health and safety could not be compromised.

The Federation’s Dennis Eagle called SB 5807 a “government efficiency bill that will save you money.”

“Let’s work together to improve this program and save the state money,” said WFSE/AFSCME Interpreters United member Magde Rojas.

February 24, 2011

Calls to action for bills needing to pass fiscal committees Friday

Friday is the deadline for bills in fiscal committees to clear their respective committees.

There are two sets of bills that desperately need support. 
  • The bills granting binding interest arbitration in collective bargaining negotiations to campus police. SHB 1736 is in the House Ways and Means Committee. SSB 5606 is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. CALL TO ACTION: Call 1-800-562-6000 and urge your two House members and senator to support SHB 1736 and SSB 5606 to grant binding arbitration to campus police and bring them in line with other law enforcement professionals.

  • The bills to grant binding arbitration to Community Corrections staff. SHB 1291 is in the House Ways and Means Committee. SB 5368 is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. CALL TO ACTION: Call 1-800-562-6000 and urge your two House members and senator to support SHB 1291 and SB 5368 to grant binding arbitration to Community Corrections and bring them in line with other law enforcement professionals.

Stand in solidarity with Wisconsin’s embattled public employees - Sat., 2/26 in Olympia!

The drive to take away your collective bargaining rights hits our state Capitol Saturday where the Evergreen Freedom Foundation is holding a rally to support Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his attacks on public employees there.

Their "Support Gov. Walker Rally" is at 11 AM (Sat. 2/26) on the Capitol steps. But we won't be silenced.
 

Let's show them what democracy looks like.
Meet me at 10 AM at Federation Headquarters, 1212 Jefferson St. S.E., Olympia, WA 98501.
We'll have breakfast and a brief training before marching to the Capitol to have our voices heard.

We need to stand up for our rights. We need to redirect the conversation to real solutions like closing tax loopholes and trimming the Washington Management Service. We didn't cause this recession -- out-of-control tax breaks and Wall Street corporate greed did.

We're not going to let them silence our voices, are we?

Hope to see you in Olympia on Saturday.

February 23, 2011

WFSE/AFSCME urges rejection of Indiana-style anti-state employee health insurance legislation

The anti-state employee plague that is sweeping through state houses in the Midwest flared in a Senate committee in Olympia Tuesday. It came a day after a 2,000 Federation-led crowd filled the state Capitol in solidarity with Wisconsin’s public servants -- and a day after Wisconsin-style anti-collective bargaining legislation officially died for this session in Washington’s Senate.

Tuesday’s battle came over Sen. Joe Zarelli’s SB 5773 to impose a high-deductible health savings account option for state employees.

More than 70 percent of state workers in Indiana choose such a plan, why not here? Zarelli asked Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux during testimony in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

“The reason folks in Indiana have gone from 44 percent to 70 percent participation is the State of Indiana is not offering other insurance,” Devereux said. “They’re trying to move everyone into health savings accounts in the State of Indiana.”

The Legislature in 2006 passed a bill directing the state Health Care Authority to develop a health savings account option. But SB 5773 goes further and orders the HCA to impose that option.

Health savings accounts impose high deductibles (at least $1,000 just for individuals) and annual out-of-pocket costs up to $5,000. Proponents lure participants by saying if they rarely go to the doctor, they get to keep any leftover money in their account.

But health savings accounts drive up costs for workers and families and don’t contain overall costs.

“They simply shift costs onto the participants…,” Devereux explained. “The premium costs for the older and less-healthy workers often spiral then out of control.”

Health savings accounts are a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he told the senators.

“Our concern is that for any individual yes it may be less costly for that individual, but it may lead to overall cost increases in the overall pool the way you design a health savings account,” Devereux said.

What is needed is cost containment, getting at the root causes of health care costs, said Devereux, a 16-year member of the Public Employees Benefits Board.

“The costs that we really need to get in line are providers and hospitals,” he said.

For instance, the Health Care Authority has probed why there’s such a variation in costs for the same medical procedures at individual hospitals, he said.

“I mean, each year on the PEBB, we deal with a 6 percent to 8 percent inflation rate,” Devereux said. “If I could get a 6 percent to 8 percent inflation rate for my members every year, I would die and go to heaven.”

SB 5773 has until Friday to pass out of committee.

Call 1-800-562-6000. Tell your state senator to oppose SB 5773. Say no to Indiana-style health care cost increases.

ALSO:
• The Federation’s Matt Zuvich registered concerns about Senate Joint Resolution 8214, the well-intentioned effort to address the state’s long-term pension obligations. The concerns center on the proposed ballot measure’s mechanics, not its intent.

Where we stand after the session's first committee cut-off

Non-fiscal bills had to clear their committees by Monday. Those that didn’t can be considered when the Legislature re-convenes in 2012. Or if any exception is made or the bills become budget provisos.
 

With those cautions, here’s a quick rundown of bills that remain alive and those that appear to be dead for this session:
  • Wisconsin-style rollback bills proposed by Senate Republicans all died in the Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee without a hearing: SB 5349 (repeal collective bargaining), SB 5347 (repeal employees’ union rights) and SB 5345 (contracting out rights).

  • SB 5805, the bill stripping the enforcement powers of park rangers, Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers and natural resource agents, died without a hearing in the Senate Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee. Also apparently officially dead in the Senate Transportation Committee is SB 5249 to move Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers to the Washington State Patrol.

  • SB 5020, the social worker title change bill, is still alive in the Senate Rules Committee; it’s been amended for the better, but it still needs a lot of work. SB 5513, the CPS social worker licensure bill, died in the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee. By the way, the separate proposal before the state personnel director to change the social worker title was pulled from the Feb. 10 agenda, thanks in part to phone calls and letters sent by Federation social worker members. But the DOP director may take up the issue in May. The legislation and personnel actions affect 3,000.

  • HB 1209 giving state Community Corrections officers greater flexibility, did not move out of the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
  • HB 1179 allowing legislators to meet and discuss non-political issues at state worksites is in the House Rules Committee.

  • SHB 1247 on secure transition facilities is in the House Rules Committee.

  • SHB 1291, binding arbitration for Community Corrections staff, is in the House Ways and Means Committee. The Senate counterpart, SB 5368, is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

  • HB 1321 to extend general law enforcement authority to state park rangers did not clear the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

  • The bills to contract out state agency debt collection duties (HB 1374 and SB 5284) did not clear their respective committees.

  • SHB 1518 allowing pre-tax deductions for parking and transit fees is in the House Rules Committee.

  • SHB 1720, the proposed Department of Enterprise Services bill, has a hearing today in the House Ways and Means Committee.

  •  HB 1735 on clean water jobs is in the House Ways and Means Committee.
  • The bills granting binding arbitration to campus police are still alive. SHB 1736 is in the House Ways and Means Committee. SSB 5606 is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

  • SHB 1841 to consolidate information technology services, with the good amendment retaining collective bargaining and civil service rights, is in the House Ways and Means Committee.

  • The bill to consolidate natural resources agencies is alive in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, SSB 5669. The House version, HB 1850, did not clear committee.

  • Both workplace-bullying bills did not clear committee: HB 1928 and SB 5789.

  • Both bills increasing duty-related death benefits are still in respective fiscal committees: SB 5160 in the Senate Ways and Means Committee and HB 1450 in the House Ways and Means Committee.

  • The “Discover Pass” bills to replace lost revenue for parks, Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources, are alive. SSB 5622 is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. HB 1796 is in the House Ways and Means Committee.

  • Both bills increasing funds to the state Wildlife Account are alive. SB 5385 is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. HB 1387 is in the House Ways and Means Committee.

  • Both the pro-residential habilitation centers bill, SB 5429, and the anti-institutions bill, SB 5132, did not clear the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee. SSB 5459, originally anti-RHC, has been amended for the better: The names of all five RHCs are restored to the statute. All references about closing RHCs are removed. All references related to RHCs only serving persons 21 and older are removed. Any savings achieved through consolidating or closing RHCs will be deposited into the Community Residential Investment Account created in the state treasury. The savings will be used to extend services to people with developmental disabilities receiving limited or no services or to enhance rates paid to community residential service businesses. SSB 5459 is in Senate Ways and Means Committee. It’s still a work in progress.

  • The bill limiting liability for Corrections and DSHS workers, SSB 5605, is in the Senate Rules Committee.
  • SB 5702 to contract out maintenance of temporarily closed state parks (SB 5702) did not clear the Senate Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee.

  • SB 5807, the state language access providers bill, has a hearing Thursday in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

  • The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee did not move on the bad HB 1233 that would do away with the hydraulic project approval (HPA) process. It also didn’t act on the good HB 1588 to charge HPA fees.
This is not an exhaustive list. We’ll keep you up to date as other bills still alive move.

Bargaining Updates

  • CENTRAL WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY. The CWU Bargaining Team negotiated with management Feb. 16 and 17. Some movement was made with the initiation of packages of articles. Out of that, some articles were tentatively agreed to. Management expressed concern about what the economy will do. “Funny, neither do we – so we keep trying to make it fair for the workers,” the CWU team said in a statement.
  • WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY. The WSU Bargaining Team has another mediation session scheduled for Friday, Feb. 25.

More events in support of Wisconsin's embattled public servants

Supporters will rally in Spokane at 4:30 p.m., this Friday, Feb. 25, at the corner of Ruby, Division and North River Drive in front of the Wendy’s restaurant.

February 21, 2011

HUNDREDS JAM STATE CAPITOL ROTUNDA IN SOLIDARITY WITH WISCONSIN’S PUBLIC WORKERS’ FIGHT

A State Patrol estimated crowd of 2,000 Federation members and members of other unions jammed the rotunda of the state Capitol in Olympia Monday to show solidarity with Wisconsin’s public workers’ fight against attempts to strip them of collective bargaining and union rights.And they got a spirited tip of the hat from Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, two-time candidate for president.

The Olympia rotunda rally sends a message “that at this moment when workers all around America are asking if there is going to be anybody who is going to stand in solidarity with them, that you are the vanguard of solidarity….You are part of a wave that is growing, a powerful, human wave,” said Kucinich, who was in Olympia for several speaking engagements. 

WATCH FULL SPEECH HERE
 

“This is a watershed moment in our history, the labor movement and in this country,” Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson said.

Cheers went up as Federation President Carol Dotlich announced that two-thirds of WFSE/AFSCME members voted to offer sanctuary to the “Wisconsin 14,” the Wisconsin Senate Democrats who fled the state to thwart Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to steamroll over public workers.

“And if Scott Walker succeeds in ending worker rights in Wisconsin, the birthplace of public servants’ liberty, it could happen here,” Dotlich said.
The crowd filled four levels of the Capitol with a sea of AFSCME Green behind the speakers’ rostrum.

They rocked the dome with chants of “Put People First” and “Union busting is disgusting.”
Dotlich noted we have a governor “who is not afraid of collective bargaining” and was able to negotiate $330 million in savings.

“But if Scott Walker gets his way, other governors may be deluded into thinking that collective bargaining is a threat and they may advocate tyranny over talking,” she said.
“The reality is, those in power from Wisconsin to Washington want to blame you, the working people, for the budget mess,” Dotlich added.

“Corporations are doing everything they can to break unions,” Kucinich said. “Corporations are doing everything they can to knock down wages. Corporations are doing everything they can to get rid of benefits, to get rid of retirement. But you are the answer….You are the last line of defense in a democracy….

“Workers have a right to organize. A right to collective bargaining. A right to decent wages and benefits, a right to retirement, a right to safety in the workplace. …. You have a right to a job and you have a right to participate in the political process. And it is your participation that is going to change this political process all across America.”

Several legislators spoke up for public servants.

“I can absolutely assure you that if there is any thought in this legislative body to attack these collective bargaining rights I will be there as well as many (others),” said Sen. Steve Conway of the 29th District.

“Public service is what made us great,” said Rep. Chris Reykdal of the 22nd District. “We are not great despite it, we are great because of it.”

‘We have a budget crisis,” said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown of the 3rd District. “We have an economic crisis. It’s serious. And it’s not going away quickly. And we’re going to have to make some really tough decisions. But let’s not (balance them) on the rights of public workers to collectively bargain.

The rally ended with the crowd singing a special version of the Wisconsin state song, “On Wisconsin.” Watch the video on our YouTube Channel "WFSEc28." We posted it so the entire world knows that Federation members and the Labor Movement in Washington state know what Solidarity stands for.
Here are the special lyrics:

On Wisconsin! Fight for freedom!
Washington stands with you
We are proud state public servants
AFSCME Green and true

Go, Wisconsin! Fight Scott Walker!
We should make him flee!
‘Cuz we’re united coast to coast
Sol-i-dar-i-ty!

February 18, 2011

President Dotlich on FoxNews tonight, defending collective bargaining rights and WFSE's 2011-13 contract ratification

Final supplemental budget passes

The House and Senate worked out their differences on the 2011 supplemental budget Friday and each passed the compromise and sent it to the governor for her signature into law. 

And you’ll be glad to know the final compromise saves the medical interpreter program through June 30.

Now the bigger fight will be over the 2011-2013 biennial operating budget that lawmakers will roll out in a few weeks.

Don't forget lobby day on Monday - Presidents' Day; and speaking of Wisconsin

Don’t forget the lobby day and Rotunda Event Monday in Olympia. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Natural Resources Building for your lobbying appointments. The Rotunda Event will be at noon. Showing solidarity to our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin will be part of the focus, along with saving essential public services here.  Learn more at http://takeaction.wfse.org.


AND SPEAKING OF WISCONSIN…. 

Well, more than 1,000 of you have taken our online survey and 67.5 percent say, “YES!” we should offer sanctuary to the Wisconsin 14, the Badger State’s Democratic senators who fled the state rather than have Gov. Scott Walker automatically ram his bill to take away collective bargaining rights down the throats of public servants there. So we will communicate with our sister council in Wisconsin, Council 24, and ask them to extend the invitation.

February 17, 2011

The votes are in: General Government members ratify contract

In ballot counting that ended at about 4:15 p.m., Thursday, Federation General Government members have ratified the 2011-2013 tentative contract agreement on a vote of 5,332 to 839. Another 29 ballots were voided.

That's about a 25 percent turnout of the 25,201 General Government members eligible to vote. It's about 2,500 more than voted in the last ratification vote, in 2009.

This is the next contract that the General Government Bargaining Team fought hard for to mitigate drastic economic cuts to members. It ended up with no permanent takeaways on economics, preserved affordable health care, saves jobs by reducing the number of permanent layoffs, made significant improvements to non-economic articles with no-takeaways in those non-economic articles. It preserves step increases, assignment pay, call-back pay, personal leaveƂ  days and more. It does have a flexible furlough plan with 3 percent pay cuts and 5.2 hours a month of temporary salary reduction leave.

The governor has asked the Legislature to OK the economic parts of the contract.

And we can't forget  - we must stand with our brothers and sisters at the Federation's eight higher education tables who are still fighting for fair contracts.

February 16, 2011

IT consolidation bill restores bargaining rights

In a major victory for Federation information technology members, the House bill consolidating IT functions was amended Wednesday to grandfather in all bargaining units and contract rights for affected employees.

The amendment by Rep. John McCoy of the 38th District cleared the House Technology, Energy and Communications Committee. McCoy chairs the committee.

The full bill with the amendment, SHB 1841, then passed the committee on a vote of 14-5.

The original bill proposed by the governor would have created the new Consolidated Technology Agency with a new collective bargaining system that stripped away all current bargaining rights and contract protections, including seniority and contracting out.

Thanks go to Rep. McCoy and to our IT members who worked so hard to get the change.

Good pro-interpreter bill introduced

Sen. Sharon Nelson of the 34th District on Tuesday introduced a bill protecting 2,000 state medical interpreters now represented by the Federation.

Senate Bill 5807 will be referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee (not the Human Services and Corrections Committee you may see listed on the state legislative website).

SB 5807 would mandate that if the state moves to telephonic and video technology to provide interpretive services that they must be provided by state-certified interpreters, not outsourced to Costa Rica or China or another foreign country. There would be a list of exceptions requiring in-person interpreter services, including patients facing end-of-life scenarios and childbirth.

And SB 5807 also streamlines the archaic and money-sapping brokerage system by requiring that services be contracted directly with language access providers, or through a single coordinating entity that contracts directly with language access providers.

Because it will go to Senate Ways and Means, SB 5807 will have until Friday, Feb. 25, to clear the first committee cut-off.

Call your senator at 1-800-562-6000 and urge them to support SB 5807, the good language access providers bill.

Calls needed on Discover Pass bill to replace funding for Parks, Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife

Today was Federation Parks Lobby Day. Help Parks members and members in Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources. Please call 1-800-562-6000 and tell your legislators to support SB 5622 and SB 1796 to replace needed funds for state parks, fish and wildlife programs and natural resources programs with the Discover Pass user pass.

Good anti-bullying legislation introduced

Good anti-bullying legislation has been introduced in the Senate and House. SB 5789 and HB 1928 would make it an unfair labor practice to subject an employee to an abusive work environment.
  • SB 5789 is in the Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. 
  • HB 1928 is in the House Judiciary Committee.
Call 1-800-562-6000 and urge your legislators to hold public hearings on SB 5789 and HB 1928.

Calls needed on Discover Pass bill to replace funding for Parks, Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife

Local 2964 member Jed Varney testifies for HB 1796 Tuesday while the bill's major opponent, former House Majority Leader Lyn Kessler, looks on. (Photo courtesy TVW)
Federation members Jed Varney (Statewide Fish Hatcheries Local 2964) and Brian Yearout (Statewide Parks Local 1466) testified Tuesday afternoon in favor of the House version of the Discover Pass to raise $71 million to replace funds the governor proposes cutting from Parks, Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife.
House Bill 1796 came before the House Ways and Means Committee. The Senate counterpart, SB 5622, is in the Senate Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee.
Neither are slam dunks. So call 1-800-562-6000 and tell your legislators to support SB 5622 and SB 1796 to replace needed funds for state parks, fish and wildlife programs and natural resources programs with the Discover Pass user pass.

Calls needed on park ranger general authority bill

The hearing on House Bill 1321 to give state park rangers general law enforcement authority was just Tuesday morning. But it needs calls now because the last chance for it to come up for a committee vote is Wednesday. 

That’s the last time the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee meets before Monday’s committee deadline for most House bills to pass House committees. The committee meets at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Local 1466 members Don Hall, Jose Velazquez and Brian Yearout testified for HB 1321 because it puts park rangers on an equal footing with other law enforcement professionals who enforce laws. It would allow park rangers to respond to incidents that jeopardize park users, especially in cases where park boundaries are unclear, where there are bisecting roads or immediately adjacent to state parks.

But other law enforcement groups opposed HB 1321, so it needs your help to get it passed. 

CALL TO ACTION ON HB 1321 


So please call the Legislature’s toll-free message hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message for the members of the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee. Tell them to support HB 1321 granting state park rangers general law enforcement authority.


The members of the committee are: 


Rep. Christopher Hurst of the 31st Dist., the committee chair
Rep. Connie Ladenburg of the 29th Dist.
Rep. Kirk Pearson of the 39th Dist.
Rep. Brad Klippert of the 8th Dist.
Rep. Sherry Appleton of the 23rd Dist.
Rep. Mike Armstrong of the 12th Dist.
Rep. Roger Goodman of the 45th Dist.
Rep. Mike Hope of the 44th Dist.
Rep. Steve Kirby of the 29th Dist.
Rep. Luis Moscoso of the 1st Dist.
Rep. Charles Ross of the 14th Dist.

February 15, 2011

Don't forget to sign up for upcoming events

PRESIDENTS' DAY LOBBY DAY FEB. 21

Register for the lobby day and noontime Capitol Rotunda event next Monday, Feb. 21, Presidentss' Day Holiday, in Olympia. To register, call 1-800-562-6002 or go to http://takeaction.wfse.org

SAVE MAPLE LANE SCHOOL

All juvenile rehabilitation members are encouraged to come out March 3 to lobby their issues and fight for Maple Lane School, a facility for juvenile offenders in south Thurston County. An intense lobby day and other events to save Maple Lane have been set for March 3 in Olympia. Register online at http://takeaction.wfse.org or call 1-800-562-6002.

THESE EVENTS PART OF KEEPING PRESSURE ON

These events come in the wake of the Feb. 12 peaceful picketing to save Frances Haddon Morgan and, the same day, the community meeting in Selah to save Yakima Valley School. At the YVS meeting, Rep. Norm Johnson and Sen. Curtis King, both of the 14th District, repeated their commitment to keep the facility open, according to the Yakima Herald-Republic.

"We have to hold the line as we have," John Mahaney, president of the Friends of the Yakima Valley School, told the newspaper. "There will not be a cost savings and the (health service) community is not ready for these individuals with their high needs."

Parks closure bill pathway to contracting out, local president testifies

A bill to allow local governments and civic groups to take over maintenance of state parks temporarily closed by budget cuts is a pathway to contracting out jobs.

That's what Statewide Parks Local 1466 President Brian Yearout told the Senate Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee Monday (Feb. 14) on SB 5702.

"We're concerned that it could lead to job loss and loss of infrastructure," he said. "And in the event of a park closure, maintenance of the park is bargaining unit work that we would normally perform.

"It appears that this is an effort to contract out our work."

SB 5702 would also hamstring parks workers ability to present alternatives to contracting out the maintenance work, Yearout said.

Campus Police binding arbitration fight moves to Senate

A Senate committee on Monday (Feb. 14) took up the Federation-initiated bill extending binding interest arbitration rights to campus police.

Lana Brewster, a veteran police officer at The Evergreen State College in Olympia and a member of Local 443, said "binding arbitration levels the playing field for us as law enforcement officers."

SB 5606 came before the Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.

She rejected the claim by the governor's Office of Financial Management representative that arbitration doesn't lead to contract settlements.

Brewster, a member of the TESC Bargaining Team, said her team is still battling management for a fair contract even without arbitration now.

Local 931 member Quincy Burns, a detective at Eastern Washington University, also disputed the administration's anti-arbitration argument.

"By having binding arbitration extended to us, it does create an incentive to reach an agreement," Burns said.

"What it does is it keeps the reasonableness factor on the table so that both sides don't ask for pie in the sky."

Josef Bailey, a police officer at Western Washington University and a member of Local 1381 joined Brewster and Burns.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Steve Conway of the 29th District, also expressed his puzzlement at the governor's opposition and claim that the current system of non-binding mediation and fact-finding is adequate.

"I guess my feeling about mediation is it doesn't lead to a decision and could go on forever," Conway said.

"It just seems like binding arbitration addresses particular needs of certain uniformed personnel. And that has been the case in this state for many years. And you're kind of taking a position opposite of that.

"We allow for binding arbitration for all kinds of uniformed personnel, firefighters and police officers. Why would we not allow it for state uniformed personnel?"

From the "could it happen here?" file.... or could it?

The legislation introduced here by Senate Republicans to strip you of bargaining rights and the level playing field on contracting out may go nowhere.

But in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, is pushing to strip bargaining rights from state employees in the birthplace of AFSCME. On Friday, he announced a Hosni Mobarak-like plan to call out the National Guard in case the dedicated public servants protest his anti-union plans.

The AFL-CIO reports the last time the National Guard was used against public workers was the AFSCME Memphis sanitation strike in 1968, just before the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who’d come in support of the AFSCME members.

Media campaign expands to Vancouver as the commercials make news themselves.

The Federation’s TV and radio commercial media campaign enters its second week, expanding to Vancouver tomorrow. Meanwhile, the campaign itself is making news. 

The TV commercials hit basic cable outlets in Vancouver tomorrow. They’ll turn up in early morning and prime time on such channels as CNN, MSNBC, TNT, USA, HGTV, The Food Network and Bravo.

KIRO FM in Seattle this morning carried a story on the commercial that spotlights the harm from existing and potential cuts to supervision of offenders released from prisons. The governor, for instance, proposes saving $3 million by limiting the use of electronic home monitoring. It’s a problem lawmakers are echoing. “Maybe two-thirds of all felons coming out of prison are not supervised at all – admittedly those are the lower level severity cases,” state Sen. Mike Carrell of the 28th District acknowledged at a Feb. 10 hearing. Among other things, Federation Community Corrections members have argued the so-called lower risk offenders include highly dangerous offenders who have been misclassified to lower-risk.

February 11, 2011

Members endorse legislation limiting liability for DOC, DSHS members

The Federation on Thursday backed Sen. Jim Hargrove’s legislation limiting liability for workers in the departments of Corrections and Social and Health Services.

Senate Bill 5605 says that DOC and DSHS workers would not be liable when they exercise reasonable care and select one of two or more alternate courses of action if they exercised reasonable care and skill in arriving at the decision to follow a particular course of action.

The bill came before the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee, chaired by Hargrove (24th District).

Ton Johnson, a Community Corrections officer 3 in Seattle and a member of Local 308, said unreasonable liability exposure often gets in the way of sound decision-making, and that doesn’t serve the public.

“As a CCO, I’m often faced with the decision to prioritize rehabilitation efforts towards the offender or protecting the public,” Johnson told the committee. “And often I have to make that decision understanding that there’s a liability. And the natural tendency of people is to default toward that liability.

“So at times, I think it’s counterproductive to have the degree of liability that we have as we end up not assessing the behavior of the offender to be exclusively on whether they pose a threat to the community, but how to defend our own liability.

“Subsequently, I believe that that interferes with long-term strategies to reduce recidivism and that’s where the real cost savings is going to be achieved.”

Also endorsing SB 5605 with some minor tweaking was Michael Weisman, a hearings examiner 3 with the Department of Health in Olympia and a member of Local 443, sits on the union’s special committee on liability issues.

Calls needed on bill to increase the duty-releated death benefit for public employees

Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich on Thursday (Feb. 10) urged the Senate Ways and Means Committee to support SB 5160 to improve the duty-related death benefit for public employees.

The call came in the wake of several recent tragedies, including the Jan. 16 on-the-job death of Local 378 DOT member Billy Rhynalds.

SB 5160 would increase the lump-sum death benefit to survivors of an employee killed in the line of duty. It would go from the current $150,000 to $214,000.

But the bill needs help passing.

So call 1-800-562-6000 and tell your legislators to support SB 5160 to increase the death benefit for public employees killed in the line of duty.

Trio of WFSE/AFSCME Natural Resources members join chorus of boos for consolidation plan

A trio of Federation members from natural resource agencies joined an almost unanimous opposition Thursday to plans to merger the agencies.

SB 5669 would merge Fish and Wildlife, Parks, the Recreation and Conservation Office and Natural Resources law enforcement and Heritage Programs into a new super-agency, the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The bill came before the Senate Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee.

Tim Young, a Fish and Wildlife member in Olympia (Local 443) told the panel that Federation members in the affected agencies “don’t support the merger and feel there are other issues to deal with beforehand.” When surveyed, those members said the agencies should reduce management levels, streamline business practices and reconcile or revise conflicting laws, Young said.

Brian Yearout, president of Statewide Parks Local 1466, said the “move to a super-agency, we believe, is not the way to go.”

“On the merger of Parks into the new agency, we think that could hasten the decline of most if not all state parks,” he added. “Merging will not replace the state general funds the governor proposes cutting to make parks self-funded and self-sustaining. This is a parks problem and we believe the current independent Parks Commission needs to remain to fight for those funds and save state parks, our crown jewels.”

Mark James, president of Statewide Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Officers Local 881, said merger would spread enforcement too thin. He said a department survey found it needed about 100 more officers devoted to fish and wildlife enforcement and merger would bring “dilution” of that already strapped mission, James said.

“We need to be able to focus on things that we don’t have the people to do,” he said. “And I’m just asking that you don’t dilute our mission and let us enforce the state laws that we’re here to do (and) protect our fish and wildlife.”

Committee Chair Sen. Kevin Ranker of the 40th District said SB 5669 is a “work in progress” and a new bill will be drafted after a meeting with stakeholders next week.

ALSO:
  • Fish Hatcheries Local 2964 member Bryan Quinton testified in favor of SB 5385 to increase revenue to the State Wildlife Account by changing fees for hunting and fishing licenses and moving all recreational hunting and fishing license revenue to the state General Fund. It would also allow the Wildlife Account to retain interest from the account. The bill came up Thursday before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
  • And Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich spoke in favor of the Senate version of the Corrections binding arbitration bill, SB 5368, which had a hearing Thursday in the Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.

February 10, 2011

Time is right for binding arbitration for corrections workers

The Federation strongly endorsed legislation granting binding interest arbitration rights to Department of Corrections workers.

In a hearing Wednesday (Feb. 9) before the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee, Community Corrections Local 443 member Dave Thompson said granting binding arbitration brings parity to state Corrections employees. Other law enforcement professionals have those rights, he said.

“When the existing processes fail us, our issues fall on deaf ears,” Thompson said. “We must have the ability to seek resolution.”

“Binding interest arbitration is a method that is traditionally used to negotiate working conditions with law enforcement and the firefighting communities,” said Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich.

“Arbitration takes the politics out of labor disputes.”

WFSE/AFSCME takes fight to preserve earlier retirement incentives to Senate

Senators on Wednesday heard what the House heard on Monday, that the Federation “vigorously opposes” the proposed rollback of early retirement incentives enacted 15 ago ears as part of the deal creating the PERS 3 system.

“If you undo that agreement, we believe it is only fair that you do away with PERS 3 as well,” Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux told the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

“We’ve never liked the potential downside of PERS 3. It is obvious that if you had to retire in the past three years, the hybrid defined contribution nature of PERS 3 could have seriously, negatively impacted your benefits.”

The Legislature has had the resources to fund pensions, but has diverted it to other uses, he said. Rolling back the early retirement incentives would only save $45,000 in the next biennium anyway, he added.

“Instead of eliminating early retirement incentives for new workers (hired after July 1, 2011), we feel strongly you should identify creative ways to finance contributions in the next biennium or you should eliminate PERS 3,” Devereux said.

February 8, 2011

Campus police members call for binding arbitration


A panel of Federation university campus police members urged legislators to pass the union-initiated bill granting them binding arbitration in contract negotiations.
 

HB 1736 came before the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee.
 

It’s about fairness, pure and simple, they said.
 

“What we’re talking about is campus police officers, they are fully commissioned police officers here in the state of Washington,” said Quincy Burns, a detective with the Eastern Washington University police department in Cheney and a member of Local 931.
 

“They go through the same requirements that every other police officer has to go through to be a certified police officer…..They handle the same type of crimes.”
 

Administrators often look down their noses at campus police, Burns said. “These officers are not security guards, they’re not security officers,” he said. “They’re commissioned police officers and we’re here asking for the parity of being represented with the rest of our colleagues that put this badge and uniform on.
 

“This is not a money issue for us. This is about bringing a sense of reasonableness to the table for negotiations.”
 

Ray Wittmier, a lieutenant with the University of Washington police and a member of Local 1488, said binding arbitration would help speed up negotiations.
 

“I feel that having the binding arbitration opportunity helps us to get away from that (an ‘us and them’ attitude) and encourages the negotiations to proceed faster,” Wittmier said.
 

“We just want to negotiate fairly and have parity,” he added.
 

Western Washington University police officer Josef Bailey echoed Burns and Wittmier.
Binding arbitration will help attract and keep good officers, the Local 1381 member said.
Having interest arbitration will “provide newer officers with the same rights as all the other law enforcement officers within the state currently enjoy,” Bailey said.
 

Representatives from university managements opposed the bill.

Fish hatchery member calls for preserving key environmental protection


Jed Varney, a Fish and Wildlife health specialist and member of statewide Fish Hatchery Local 2964, called on lawmakers to preserve the “hydraulic project approval (HPA)” process and charge users for the process that benefits natural resources.

The HPA process requires approval for any project that will use, divert, obstruct or change the natural flow or bed of any salt or fresh waters in the state.

He urged the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to reject HB 1233 that would do away with the hydraulic project approval process. But he urged passage of HB 1588 to charge fees.

“The HPA process does the job to protect the habitat for those salmon runs and fish runs….,” Varney testified. “And in order to continue to do this, we need to make sure that there’s habitat for the fish to spawn in, that there’s habitat for them to return to.

“And with the development and everything that’s going on in the state, it’s vital.”

Reject bill to require licensure for CPS workers, Local 1400 member testifies

Another attempt to discount social workers came up for a hearing Tuesday, but it was clear it had little support.

The only person to testify for SB 5513 was the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Pam Roach of the 31st District. It came before the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.

Regina Patterson, and social worker in Kelso and a member of Local 1400, said the Child Protective Licensure bill would “intensively cripple the department’s efforts toward the task of protecting children. It would eliminate qualified, trained and experienced workers from the field in an effort to replace them with inexperienced and poorly trained workers.”
Patterson said requiring a master’s in social work doesn’t qualify someone to be a social worker.
She said she had just one class in graduate school that dealt with child and family services.
But SB 5513 “would immediately exclude those with education in the areas of psychology, education, juvenile justice, or other related fields.”
It would cost current CPS social workers at least $5,000 and six years to earn a master’s in social work and many experienced workers can’t afford the time and money.
“We think that is unfair to those dedicated social workers who have through experience proved their value to the mission of child protection, even though they may not have an MSW or official license,” Patterson said.

IT consolidation a gateway to outsourcing, member testifies in two hearings

The issue of consolidating information services and abolishing the Department of Information Services is a gateway to outsourcing those services, an IT member testified in two committees Tuesday.

“Consolidation is the first step toward outsourcing,” Tim Young, an IT member in the Department of Fish and Wildlife and a member of Local 443, said.

Worse, the IT consolidation plan would replace civil service protections based on seniority with a performance-based system, especially on layoffs and recall, Young told the House General Government Appropriations Committee.

“This is seen by the union as the first step in eliminating civil service protections across all agencies and to privatize information technology jobs,” he said.

He later gave similar testimony on HB 1841, the full consolidation legislation. HB 1841 would abolish DIS with a Consolidated Technology Services Agency overseen by an information “czar” or chief information officer in the Office of Financial Management. That bill came before the House Technology, Energy and Communications Committee.

WFSE/AFSCME blasts bill to roll-back early retirement break for new hires; Enterprise bill receives a hearing

The Federation on Monday (Feb. 7) opposed the governor’s bill to reinstate the penalties for earlier retirement for those in PERS 2 and 3 hired after July 1, 2011. 

Those actuarial reductions were part of the compromise that created the hybrid PERS 3 system some 15 years ago, Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux told the House Ways and Means Committee during a hearing on HB 1742.

Devereux said that during the 2003-2006 sessions, the Legislature “had plenty of money to…fund the pension plans.”

“At the same time, the Legislature let 154 tax exemptions through, totaling $3 billion,” he added. “So we very well could have financed it at the time. I would suggest we look for another way to finance this rather than taking the best of a compromise proposal (PERS 3).”
ALSO:  Federation Lobbyist Alia Griffing registered the union’s concerns in the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee Monday about HB 1720, the bill creating a Department of Enterprise Services and doing away with General Administration, Personnel and parts of other agencies.

Rally for Frances Haddon Morgan Center Saturday

All Federation members are invited to a rally this Saturday in Bremerton to build public support against closure of Frances Haddon Morgan Center. The rally will be 9 a.m.-3 p.m., this Saturday, Feb. 12, at the corners of Kitsap Way and Marine and also the corners of Kitsap Way and National Avenue in Bremerton.

February 7, 2011

Officer Biendl's funeral Tuesday

The memorial service for murdered Teamster Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl will be 1 p.m., tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 8, at Comcast Arena, 2000 Hewitt Ave., in Everett. A motorcade procession precedes the memorial.

Watch WFSE/AFSCME's TV ads

The Federation’s TV and radio commercials started airing today around the state. 

We had a detailed list in the last hotline message. They’ll also turn up on Internet sites Pulicola.net and the Seattle PI Online. 


You can also view them at WFSE.org > WFSEc28 Community > YouTube and Facebook Fan Page.

What's up this week in the Legislature

It’s a busy week ahead in the Legislature with just two weeks to go before the first deadline for bills to get out of committee. 

We hope the good bills do and the bad bills don’t. More on that later. 

Before we list some of this week’s key actions, a call to action to support our members in the Special Commitment Center and Secure Community Transitional Facilities. These members watch over civilly committed sexual predators – and is therefore one of the most important jobs in this state when it comes to public safety. 

But a bill that’s passed the House Ways and Means Committee would cut staffing levels in the Secure Community Transitional Facilities, which are basically satellites of the Special Commitment Center. 

House Bill 1247 is now in the House Rules Committee waiting to be scheduled for a vote of the full House.

CALL TO ACTION ON HB 1247:  Call your two House members at 1-800-562-6000. Tell them to oppose House Bill 1247. The staff cuts in Secure Community Transitional Facilities will harm public safety.

KEY EVENTS THIS WEEK

• Federation members are in town just about every day to lobby legislators. But today members in the Basic Health Plan will concentrate their efforts to save that program and jobs. Thursday, Department of Information Services members have their concentrated lobby day.


• And don’t forget to sign up for Presidents’ Day Lobby Day and Rotunda Event, Monday, Feb. 21. That’s also the first WFSE/AFSCME Higher Education Lobby Day of the session. To register, call 1-800-562-6000 or
go online to wfse.org.

MONDAY, FEB. 7:


• The House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee takes up
HB 1720, one of the governor’s agency merger bills. HB 1720 would abolish the Department of General Administration and Department of Personnel and merge theirs and other functions into a new Department of Enterprise Services.

• The House Ways and Means Committee takes up
HB 1742, the governor’s bill to end the earlier or “alternative” retirement options for those hired after July 1, 2011.

• The Senate Ways and Means Committee holds a work session and public hearing on natural resources issues, perhaps including the governor’s merger plan.


TUESDAY, FEB. 8:


• The House Labor and Workforce Development Committee takes up
HB 1736, the Federation’s bill granting binding arbitration rights to campus police.

• The Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee takes up
SB 5513 requiring that Child Protective Services workers be licensed.

• The House General Government Appropriations Committee looks at the Department of Information Services, including the governor’s plan to create a new charter agency (Consolidated Technology Services) and chief information officer.


• The House Education Appropriations Committee looks at state four-year institutions.


• The House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee looks at the DSHS Economic Services Administration.


• The House Ways and Means Committee takes up DSHS Mental Health programs.


WEDNESDAY, FEB. 9:


• The House Labor and Workforce Development Committee holds a public hearing on
HB 1291, the Federation-backed bill granting binding arbitration rights to Community Corrections and juvenile rehabilitation staffers.

• The Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee holds a public hearing on
SB 5368, the Federation-backed bill granting binding arbitration rights to Community Corrections and juvenile rehabilitation staffers.

• The House Judiciary Committee holds a public hearing on
HB 1679, limiting government liability for supervision of offenders, a bill of keen interest to our Corrections members.

• The Senate Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee takes up
SB 5529 regarding hydraulic project approval.

• The House Ways and Means Committee looks at two key programs affecting DSHS members, the Division of Developmental Disabilities and the Special Commitment Center.


• The Senate Ways and Means Committee holds a work session and public hearing on pension and compensation issues.


THURSDAY, FEB. 10:


• The Senate Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee holds a public hearing on
SB 5669, the governor’s proposed merger of natural resource agencies.

• The Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee takes up
SB 5605 limiting liability for specified state workers for errors of judgment.

• The House General Government Appropriations Committee holds a work session and public hearing on Department of Fish and Wildlife issues.


• The House Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee holds a work session developmental disabilities programs.