May 17, 2011

Senate passes consolidation bill stripping workers of bargaining, contracting out rights

Nine Democrats defected and gave Republicans effective control of the Senate Tuesday to pass the anti-state employee, anti-accountability, anti-taxpayer bill consolidating “back office” and information technology services.

ESSB 5931 passed 29-18, with two Republicans, Sen. Don Benton of the 17th District and Sen. Pam Roach of the 31st District, excused.

The battle over ESSB 5931 now shifts to the House to defeat the measure that would erode bargaining rights of those moving into the new Consolidated Technology Services agency and pick and choose which parts of the contracting out statute the state would abide by in the new CTS and new Department of Enterprise Services.

What it came down to is proponents can’t work within the collective bargaining and contracting out laws so they want to change the rules.

Workers would lose rights. Citizens would lose accountability over privatized services. And taxpayers would lose cost-savings because state employees in the new technology agency couldn’t present alternatives or compete for work proposed for privatization – even if they can do it faster, better and cheaper.

In floor debate, Sen. Craig Pridemore said ESSB 5931 made an end-run around the Government Operations Committee he chairs. His panel had numerous questions and concerns about two earlier bills, but the Senate Ways and Means Committee effectively took the issue away in favor of the new combined bill sponsored by Sen. Michael Baumgartner of the 6th District and Sen. Joe Zarelli of the 18th District.

And Sen. Ed Murray, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, discounted the claim that ESSB 5931 was part of the bi-partisan spirit used on the budget. It is not, he said, urging opposition.

But spurred by the Republican minority and the administration, the nine Democrats voted to ram ESSB 5931 through.

There was a lot of distorted debate by opponents, like Sen. Jim Kastama’s claim that the nearly 360 projects the state contracted out under the law just until 2008 amounted to “no substantial contracting out.”

Here is the roll call on SB 5931:
  • Passed 29-18 with 2 excused
  • Voting Yea:  (Republicans) Senators Baumgartner, Baxter, Becker, Carrell, Delvin, Ericksen, Fain, Hewitt, Hill, Holmquist Newbry, Honeyford, King, Litzow, Morton, Parlette, Pflug, Schoesler, Stevens, Swecker, and Zarelli; (Democrats) Eide, Hargrove, Hatfield, Haugen, Hobbs, Kastama, Sheldon, Shin, and Tom.
  • Voting Nay:  (all Democrats) Senators Brown, Chase, Conway, Fraser, Harper, Keiser, Kilmer, Kline, Kohl-Welles, McAuliffe, Murray, Nelson, Prentice, Pridemore, Ranker, Regala, Rockefeller, and White.
  • Excused:  Senators Benton and Roach
WFSE/AFSCME members prepare to lobby senators against ESSB 5931.


Call your two House members at 1-800-562-6000 and urge them to oppose ESSB 5931:
Honor the law on collective bargaining rights and competitive contracting in the proposed new Consolidated Technology Services agency and Department of Enterprise Services. Live by the rules, don’t try to steamroller them.
As a recap, the proposed Consolidated Technology Agency would absorb most of the duties of the current Department of Information Services – but with a new anti-state employee collective bargaining law and exemptions from the contracting out law. The proposed Department of Enterprise Services would absorb the Department of General Administration, most of the Department of Personnel and Office of Financial Management and some of DIS, with exemptions from the current contracting out (competitive contracting) statute.

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