May 20, 2011

House committee considering better compromise on ESSB 5931- back-office consolidation bill

***WEEKEND UPDATE: The committee adjourned Friday afternoon without acting on the bill. Saturday, The Olympian reports "Bargaining Rights Key State Debate"
***The House Ways and Means Committee today is considering a proposed striking amendment that would retain full collective bargaining rights for employees doing so-called “back-office” duties and information technology work that would be folded into a new agency.

Under the proposed “striker” to ESSB 5931, the proposed Consolidated Technology Services agency would no longer stand alone but be folded in with General Administration and other back-office work in the proposed new Department of Enterprise Services.

The striker would abandon the approach supported by the Senate and governor that would trash the collective bargaining rights of IT workers affected by the merger. Under the striker, they would retain all current collective bargaining rights.

What we’re looking at in the 265-page amendment is whether there’s any movement away from the governor-Senate approach to wipe out contracting out and competitive contracting requirements that would make it easier to privatize IT and Enterprise Services work, like the motor pool in GA.
But it’s an improvement. So…

Call 1-800-562-6000 and urge your two House members to support the striking amendment to ESSB 5931 to retain all current collective bargaining rights and make sure the striker retains current competitive contracting rules, too.

One caution. Things are moving quickly, so this call to action may be modified over the weekend. ESSB 5931 could hit the full House as early as Saturday.


The striking amendment was not available for the public hearing on ESSB 5931, so speakers spoke on the bill as it passed the Senate – the one that eroded out bargaining rights for IT and wiped out contracting out protections in IT and Enterprise Services.

Dennis Eagle, the Federation’s director of legislative and political action, said the administration has never raised concerns over the current contracting out or bargaining law with the union at the table, never raised issues of IT “flexibility” in negotiations and never discussed job classification issues.

They never tried to use the existing law but instead unilaterally decided it needed to be changed, he said.

“If changes to the law are needed, they should bring those to us,” Eagle said.

“Instead, they’re attempting by brute force to shift the balance of power. If we tried to do it, it would never be allowed. It’s a double standard and we would urge you to reject this blatant power grab.”

Federation President Carol Dotlich said state employees have worked within the 2002 collective bargaining and contracting out law. State employees have sacrificed and played by the rules, she said, and to go after their bargaining and competitive contracting rights “seems like another assault” on the very workers who make this state run.

Bing Bristol, a Local 443 member in General Administration, which would be part of the merger, said contracting out often results in added costs where state employees end up fixing contractors’ mistakes.

Local 443 DSHS member Steve Segall, a member of the General Government Bargaining Team, said the state spent $85 million contracting for the HRMS computer system that failed miserably.
“That’s what contracting out will get you,” he said.

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