August 31, 2011

Children's Administration Task Force meets with management

Children’s Administration members expect action from DSHS management now that their task force on management accountability has presented its documentation that led to the recent 98.6 percent vote of no confidence in their Deputy Director Denise Revels Robinson.

The task force met today (Aug. 31) with management. Task force members Joyce Murphy (Local 1400, Kelso), Tony Gorini (Local 313, Vancouver) and Ursula Petters (Local 1181, Bremerton), along with WFSE/AFSCME President Carol Dotlich, VP Sue Henricksen, Executive Director Greg Devereux and Contract Compliance Manager Jeanine Livingston, met with management.

“We expect them to take the documentation, digest it and come up with a plan on how to deal with the problems in Children’s…,” Livingston said. “Trust has been destroyed….It’s time for action.”

Pictured above from left: Joyce Murphy (Local 1400, Kelso); Ursula Petters (Local 1181, Bremerton); WFSE/AFSCME Contract Compliance Manager Jeanine Livingston; and Tony Gorini (Local 313, Vancouver).

Local 1301 memorial dedication for Greg Ballard

Ellensburg Local 1301 will host a dedication ceremony for the Greg Ballard Memorial Bench at the Cle Elum High School football stadium 6:30 p.m., this Friday, Sept. 2. The ceremony will be followed by the first home football game for Cle Elum High School. Greg Ballard was a beloved Transportation member of Local 1301 who passed away early last year.

Board adopts bargaining structure and nomination/election procedure for 2013-2015 negotiations

It’s time to gear up for the next round of bargaining on the 2013-2015 contracts that will start on all General Government and Higher Education contracts early next year.

The Federation Executive Board on Saturday (Aug. 27) adopted the bargaining structure for the 2013-2015 negotiations and also the nominations and elections procedure for this next round of bargaining.

You can find both on the Federation website at Look under the “Bargaining” tab on the left side of the home page. They’ll be the first two documents on the menu. Or click on these links:
These documents will also come to you in the mail in a special September edition of the Federation newspaper, the Washington State Employee. That edition will also include a bargaining proposal form you can take to your local, which would consider it and vote whether to forward it to the respective bargaining teams.

The documents lay out all the significant time frames. But two to keep in mind:
  • The call for nominations will be mailed to all eligible members no later than Sept. 12.
  • Contract proposals must be submitted to Federation headquarters no later than Nov. 23. Locals, the Federation Executive Board and the Federation executive director may submit contract proposals. So a lot of the debate on proposals will be at your local’s meetings over the next few months.

Bargaining Update for The Evergreen State College

The Evergreen State College bargaining team, representing classified employees and supervisors, completed negotiations late yesterday (Aug. 29) for their 2012-2013 contract.

For the period July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012, the terms and conditions of the 2009 - 2011 contract will remain in place.

The team was able to secure improvements in working conditions, suspended operations leave, hours of work, grievance procedure, and other areas. A complete summary will be available in the next few days.

The temporary 3 percent salary reduction is included in the 2012 - 2013 contract. Employees subject to temporary salary reduction (TSR) will accrue up to 5.2 hours of paid TSR leave per month.

Members of the TESC classified bargaining units will receive a copy of the summary of changes and the ratification plan in the mail in the next two weeks. Complete copies of the tentative agreement will be available on the WFSE web page within the next week. On-campus informational meetings will be scheduled and announced within the next week.

The vote will be held by mail-in ballot.

If you are a member of the TESC bargaining units and do not receive a packet by Tuesday, September 13, 2011, contact WFSE HQ at 800-562-6002 or email us at

TESC is the final team to reach tentative agreement in what has turned out to be a marathon cycle of negotiations brought on by the bad economy.

Ratification updates for Community College Coalition and Eastern Washington University

  • The mail ballots for the 2012-2013 Community College Coalition contract went out Aug. 19 and must be postmarked by Sept. 9. Whatcom Community College in Bellingham will vote onsite Sept. 8. Ballots for all campuses will be counted Sept. 15.
  • The mail ballots for the 2012-2013 Eastern Washington University contract went in the mail Aug. 24. They must be back by 5 p.m., Sept. 9. The ballot count is Sept. 13.

    Important clarification for EWU: The terms and conditions of your current contract (2009-2011) remain in effect through June 30, 2012. This is in accordance with your collective bargaining agreement and state law. The new contract that would take effect July 1, 2012, and run through June 30, 2013.

Bargaining Update for Western Washington University

At Western Washington University, the WWU Bargaining Team there re-opened negotiations on their previously-ratified 2012-2013 contract to discuss compensation. The revised agreement for more than 400 Federation members at Western Washington University takes out the reference to a 3 percent pay cut. There’s still a 3 percent budget cut – but the agreement commits the union and university to work together to jointly address the 3 percent personnel costs reduction mandated by the Legislature. Here's the revised language in Article 43.1(A):

"For fiscal years 2012 and 2013, appropriations have been reduced in an amount equal to a three (3) percent salary reduction for all represented employees whose monthly full-time equivalent salary is $2,500 or more per month. These reductions will be implemented and achieved according to the terms and conditions of this agreement."

The agreement came Aug. 23. A mail-in re-ratification vote is being scheduled; if it’s ratified, it will be submitted to the governor’s budget office by Oct. 1. If the Office of Financial Management approves, it will go before the 2012 Legislature. As you recall, this is a one-year agreement, from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. Until then, the university and union are operating under the terms and conditions of the 2009-2011 contract.

Media reports verify that the state workforce has shrunk

Some didn’t believe us earlier this year when we publicly said that the recession has taken a real toll on the size of state government – and its ability to provide services to the public.Both The Olympian and the Seattle Times report that the number of state employees has shrunk almost 10 percent (some 6,409 positions in General Government alone) since the start of the recession in 2008. The biggest cuts are in DSHS and Corrections.

While some legislative and administration budget-cutters may rejoice, the media reports also say the cuts hurt overall economic recovery, workload has increased and safety is compromised. And the cuts are a drag on retaining good state employees. The Olympian reports the percentage of state employees retiring or resigning (to find higher-paying jobs elsewhere) is the highest it’s been in five years.

What’s ominous – more is on the way. The governor has directed her agencies to prepare for additional cuts of up to $1.7 billion. The governor’s budget director says the 6,400-plus job cuts are only about two-thirds of total expected job cuts.

August 16, 2011

Eastern Washington University

The Eastern Washington University Bargaining Team reached a tentative agreement on a 2012-2013 contract Aug. 11 in Cheney. If this sounds like déjà vu, you’re right. The EWU team reached a tentative agreement a year ago, but it was determined to be economically infeasible by the state Office of Financial Management. This latest agreement settles the union’s unfair labor practice complaint against EWU, but the ULP against the state budget office remains.
For the period July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012, the terms and conditions of the 2009-2011 contract remain in place.

The EWU Bargaining Team is putting the finishing touches on their ratification plan. It’ll be on their bargaining page when it’s final.

The EWU agreement contains no wage decrease. It not only maintains all of the working conditions contained in the 2009-2011 contract, but improves upon several. Also contained in the tentative agreement is a re-opener clause that allows the EWU Bargaining Team to return to the table if any other unit covered by the union received a general wage increase or increase in most types of leave.

Watch for more details online and in the mail.

August 9, 2011

Community College Coalition reaches tentative agreement; ratification vote plans being finalized

The Community College Coalition bargaining team comprised of representatives from Bellevue Community College, Centralia College, Community Colleges of Spokane, Everett Community College, Green River Community College, Lower Columbia College, Peninsula College, Seattle Community College, Shoreline Community College, South Puget Sound Community College, Tacoma Community College and Whatcom Community College completed negotiations today for their 2012-2013 contract.

For the period July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012, the terms and conditions of the 2009-2011 contract remain in place.

The team was able to secure improvements in working conditions, seniority transfer rights and grievance procedures for workplace behavior related issues. A thorough summary will be available in the next few days.

The temporary 3% salary reduction is included in the 2012-2013 contract.

Members of the Community College Coalition will receive a copy of the Tentative Agreement, a summary of the changes, and the ratification plan in the mail next week.

Tentatively, all institutions except Whatcom Community College will vote using a return-mail ballot envelope, tentatively scheduled to be due back by September 9. Whatcom Community College members will vote onsite on September 8. All ballot counts are scheduled for Thursday, September 15 (updated 8/15) at WFSE HQ.

Details will be mailed to members at the end of next week (by 8/19). If
you are a member of one of the Community College Coalition bargaining units and do not receive a packet and by Friday, August 26, contact WFSE HQ at 800-562-6002 or email us at 

A copy of the Tentative Agreement, summary and details of the ratification vote will be posted on > Bargaining > Community College Coalition in the next few days.

3% pay cut - shared sacrifice?

August 5, 2011

Final 2012 health premiums posted

The final 2012 health premium rates have been posted the by state Health Care Authority at

They had to be recalculated after the Public Employees Benefits Board lowered co-pays for diagnostic services in Group Health. For the most part, the premium shares are slightly lower than originally proposed for next year, except for Group Health, which is slightly higher than originally proposed.

More on voluntary pay cuts

While some legislators opted to take a voluntary 3 percent pay cut, others have pointed out correctly that the provision in ESSB 5860 technically applies only to elected officials in the EXECUTIVE branch, not legislative branch, of state government. That means the governor, and other elected statewide officials are explicitly allowed to take the pay cut. But several legislators followed the spirit of the legislation and took the cut as well. I’m sure others can show the same spirit, share the sacrifice with you and take a voluntary pay cut (or volunteer to take the voluntary pay cut reserved explicitly for executive branch elected officials).

August 4, 2011

Solidarity sing-along from Madison to Olympia - August 9


On Wisconsin's historic recall election day, Tuesday, August 9, we would like to bring the Solidarity Sing Along from Madison to Olympia.

The Solidarity Sing Along is a peaceful protest that has kept a consistent presence in the Wisconsin State Capitol. An ever-changing group of citizens, activists, workers, visitors, and supporters have come to the capitol in Madison EVERY noon Monday through Friday since March 11.

Sign up on Facebook here.

August 3, 2011

Zarelli tells member he won't take voluntary pay cut

Sen. Joe Zarelli of the 18th District in Southwest Washington says he will not join his House colleague Rep. Ann Rivers and take a voluntary 3 percent pay cut under the new law encouraging state elected officials to make the same sacrifices as frontline state employees who are having pay cut.

Zarelli is the ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee and was one of the 36 senators who voted May 25 for ESSB 5860, the bill cutting state employee pay. Section 2 of ESSB 5860 included the provision allowing legislators and other state elected officials to sign a state form authorizing waiver of 3 percent (or any amount really) of their pay.

As we reported over the weekend, only four legislators (all in the House) and a few elected officials had taken the voluntary pay cut so far. Some have contributed to charity and some say they’ll sign up now that they know about it (even though the governor sent a memo to all of them in June encouraging them to join her in signing up for the voluntary 3 percent cut).

A Local 862 member at Green Hill School in Chehalis yesterday e-mailed his three 18th District legislators. He thanked Rivers for taking the voluntary cut.  He also asked Zarelli and Rep. Ed Orcutt to join in the voluntary reduction because “it’s the right thing to do.”

In his response, Zarelli implied he’s not opposed to a pay cut for legislators but he’s holding out for a constitutional change. Under a voter-approved constitutional amendment from 1986, the independent citizens’ commission that sets elected officials’ salaries can raise or freeze pay, but can’t cut it. Several proposed constitutional amendments failed to move during the 2011 legislative session. But the governor succeeded in winning the voluntary pay cut section of ESSB 5860.

“I do not do this job based on the salary but because I believe in representative government and do my best to represent the constituents of my district,” Zarelli responded. “I am fine with whatever rate of pay the commission sets.”

Here is Zarelli’s full response. We leave it up to you to make any value judgment about it:

Thank you for your message…. The newspaper story is correct in that Senator Kilmer did introduce a constitutional amendment to allow reductions in elected officials' pay, but for some reason there is no mention of the constitutional amendment I proposed (SJR 8202), even though it was the only one to pass the Senate Ways and Means Committee and be endorsed by the Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials. I pressed hard to move that measure forward, so the commission would have authority to raise or lower our salaries at any time, even in the middle of our terms, but the majority party chose not to bring it before the full Senate.

Also, it's not quite accurate for the report to say the Legislature "cut" most workers' pay by 3%. The change was negotiated by the governor and the state employee unions - the Legislature only has authority to vote up or down on agreements made by the governor. And it's not a pay cut in the traditional sense, because the 3% reduction the unions agreed to for the current biennium also provides for an equal reduction in work hours, so the net pay is the same for the hours worked.

Legislators' salaries are at the 2008 level and will remain there through at least 2012. We are "exempt" employees and treated differently than employees under union contracts, many of whom (about one-third) were able to receive "step" increases over the past two years, even though they (like us) did not get COLA increases. Those represented employees will continue to be eligible for such pay raises during this next fiscal biennium (unlike us).

All that said, I do not do this job based on the salary but because I believe in representative government and do my best to represent the constituents of my district. I am fine with whatever rate of pay the commission sets.

Again, thank you for your thoughts on this matter.

Also for your information, here is the roll call of the May 25 Senate vote on the bill allowing legislators to voluntarily cut their pay:

ESSB 5860 (5/25/11)
Yeas: 36  Nays: 10  Absent: 0  Excused: 3
  • Voting Yea:  Senators Becker, Brown, Chase, Conway, Eide, Ericksen, Fain, Fraser, Hargrove, Harper, Hatfield, Haugen, Hewitt, Hill, Hobbs, Honeyford, Kastama, Keiser, Kilmer, King, Kline, Kohl-Welles, Litzow, McAuliffe, Murray, Parlette, Pflug, Prentice, Ranker, Regala, Rockefeller, Schoesler, Swecker, Tom, White, and Zarelli
  • Voting Nay:  Senators Baumgartner, Baxter, Carrell, Delvin, Holmquist Newbry, Morton, Pridemore, Roach, Sheldon, and Stevens
  • Absent
  • Excused:  Senators Benton, Nelson, and Shin
Note: If you’re in the districts of the only four legislators who’ve signed up so far, please thank them: Rep. Ann Rivers, R-18th District; Rep. Frank Chopp, D-43rd District; Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-26th District; and Rep. Troy Kelley, D-28th District.

Let us know what they tell you. E-mail us at:

Fund set up for son of DOC member Michelle Dykes

A memorial fund has been set up at the Washington State Employees Credit Union for the son of Michelle Dykes, the Department of Corrections Local 53 member who died July 26 from injuries suffered in a July 21 motorcycle crash at the I-5/SR 101 interchange in Tumwater.

Michelle, 39, was a Community Corrections officer 2 in Tacoma and 10-year member of the Federation.

You can go to any WSECU branch and make a contribution to the fund, which is in Michelle Dykes’ name.

The entire Federation family mourns this tragic loss of a good DOC employee and Federation member and encourages members to contribute to the memorial fund.