November 29, 2011

Federation members show their colors as they join 3000 at Capitol on opening day of the special session

Several hundred Federation members descended on the Capitol Monday to lobby their legislators and to join 3,000 allies from a wide range of good government groups and social service advocates to set the agenda for this extraordinary moment in time.

Federation President Carol Dotlich summed it up well during the morning briefing of members, who were joined by dozens of Occupy Seattle activists who shared a bus ride to Olympia with UW Local 1488 members.

“We’ve all heard about the drastic cuts proposed by the governor,” Dotlich said. “And we know that some legislators are looking at cutting our health benefits, our wages and trying to figure out how to fill the state’s $2 billion deficit by cutting our programs, dumping our clients, cutting off our students, endangering our neighborhoods by letting felons go unsupervised and increasing an historic unemployment rate by laying us off. That about covers it, doesn’t it? So we’re not going to let that happen!”

Some in the press and corporate special interests have tried to steer our message away from cutting tax giveaways to the wealthiest 1 percent as a way to save public safety, public services and higher education.

Press reports focused on a handful of the 3,000 who were arrested for disorderly conduct, all but one involving protesters trying to get back into the Capitol after the state shut it down at 5:30 p.m. Reports of state troopers tazering protesters are also overblown – it involved a few protesters trying to get back into the Capitol in the evening.

The truth is, throughout the day, the protesters, many of them schooled in the Occupy Movement, praised the troopers, even giving them the peace sign during an afternoon sit-in outside the governor’s office.

As one trooper told the Tacoma News Tribune: “A small number of individuals here were causing trouble. Everyone else, it was very peaceful and no issues.”

It’s not believed any Federation members were involved in any of the arrests. The Federation, as part of AFSCME, has led the coalition’s emphasis on peaceful, non-violent protest modeled after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King died for striking AFSCME sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968.

The press, unfortunately, has drunk the poisoned punch from longtime enemies of state employees, who are throwing up the smokescreen that the debate is not about ending billions in corporate tax giveaways but about blaming public workers.

House Deputy Republican Leader Rep. Joel Kretz was trying to steer the debate away from tax giveaways (telling PubliCola today that state workers “make up a majority of state budget costs”). But House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Ross Hunter said it’s a delusion to peg state employees as the budget cost drivers. “There’s not much money there,” Hunter told PubliCola. “It’s in the tens of millions at best.” He rejected the Kretz plan to blame state employees and cut pay even more. “The question isn’t weather or not you can do it, the question is can you do it and still have an effective workforce,” he told PubliCola. PubliCola also noted that “Hunter, a former Microsoft exec, said the state should take note of the Redmond company’s focus on raises and ‘quality.’”

Kretz says he can’t go back to his district and tell voters they’ll be better off if they cut state employee pay, should instead ask his voters if they’d be better off cutting tax giveways that rob us of billions in tax giveaways.

Starting yesterday, Federation members set out to give each and every legislators a copy of the union’s publication outlining $2.3 billion in tax giveaways that could be cut, as suggested by six authoritative groups. As Dotlich said yesterday:

“$2.3 billion in revenue we give away ever year. A $2 billion budget deficit. You do the math.

“We can cut public safety, vital services or education, or we can restore – even temporarily – the obligations of the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes.”

    Here’s what’s on tap this week.

Week of Action at the Capitol, Nov. 28

NOTE: If your local is planning to bring members down, please contact Diana Whitmore at 800-562-6002 or so we can coordinate your action.

    To get information on and register for our Week of Action in Olympia Nov. 28-Dec. 2, go to the Federation website at

• TUE., NOV 29:  The face of the 99% - personal stories that highlight the impact of budget cuts on the 99%. Our members are standing up for Public Health and against cuts to Basic Health and Interpreter Services. Join them!

On this day, our allies at the Washington Community Action Network (WashCAN!) will occupy the Capitol in Olympia. Their message to Federation members and the entire coalition: “Enough is enough. The 99% Movement and progressive organizations are uniting to Occupy the Capitol during the special session. It’s time to close corporate tax loopholes and raise revenue instead of making more cuts. Big corporations and the wealthy in this state need to pay their fair share. For more information, go to

The Senate Ways and Means Committee looks at the governor’s supplemental budget, 3:30 p.m., Nov. 29, Senate Hearing Room 4, Cherberg Building.
  • WED., NOV 30:  The face of the 1% - identifying tax breaks that take away from the safety net. We're fighting to preserve Public Safety! Help Community Correction Officers fight against cuts to community supervision, community safety. The Senate Ways and Means Committee, K-12 and Higher Education cuts in the supplemental budget, 3:30 p.m., Nov. 30, Senate Hearing Room 4, Cherberg Building.
  • THU., DEC 1:  Which side are you on?  Asking legislators to take the vote to end tax breaks and raise revenue.

    The House Education Appropriations and Oversight Committee take up the education parts of the supplemental budget, 1:30 p.m., Dec. 1, House Hearing Room A, John L. O’Brien Building.

    The House General Government Appropriations and Oversight Committee looks at the budget, recommendations from the Statewide Security Advisory Committee, and the state parks Discover Pass, 1:30 p.m., Dec. 1, House Hearing Room C, John L. O’Brien Building.

    The House Health and Human Services Appropriations and Oversight Committee takes up children’s mental health and regional habilitation centers, 1:30 p.m., Dec. 1, House Hearing Room B, John L. O’Brien Building.

    The Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee looks at proposals for state hospital ward closures, Dec. 1, 1:30 p.m., Senate Hearing Room 1, Cherberg Building.

    House Ways and Means Committee, looks at the budget outlook, Dec. 1, 3:30 p.m., House Hearing Room A, John L. O’Brien Building.

    The Senate Ways and Means Committee looks at human services issues in the supplemental budget, Dec. 1, 3:30 p.m., Senate Hearing Room 4, Cherberg Building.
  • FRI., DEC 2:  It’s about our future. Hearing  from those who are unfairly burdened with student loan debt and a loss of economic opportunities. Local 793 will be here to fight against cuts to Mental Health. Join them!

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