On Wednesday, Oct. 26, a coalition of labor unions representing Washington state employees received a letter from Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office asking to re-open negotiations on health care benefits. This, after state employees have sacrificed thousands of layoffs, a 3% pay cut, and already agreed to a concessionary contract that raised employees’ share of health premiums by 25%.
The Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28 — which pointed out in today’s Seattle Times that it doesn’t speak for all the unions in the coalition — responded to the governor’s request with this:
“Before there’s any talk of taking more from the state workforce she must convene a meeting of corporate entities and ask them to take a 3% cut in any tax break they are already receiving from the taxpayers of the state of Washington.”
TAKE ACTION! In the governor’s own words, state employees have given enough! Click here to send Gov. Chris Gregoire a message that urges her to convene a meeting of corporate entities in Washington state and ask them to take a 3% cut on their tax breaks — just as our state employees have taken a 3% pay cut (and more) — to help resolve the latest state revenue crisis.
Our state’s employees have already done their part to address the revenue shortfall. They agreed to increase the employee share of health premiums from 12% to 15%, but actually now pay the equivalent of 25% of premiums due to big co-payments and deductibles imposed last year. They have taken 3% pay cuts in the form of unpaid furlough days, after several years without a cost-of-living increase. And thousands of state employees have lost their jobs entirely. Those that remain are enduring significantly higher caseloads, and are being asked to do more with less.
That’s why, after the latest contracts had been signed, Gov. Chris Gregoire herself said that state employees have given enough. But now, her office is asking for more sacrifices, and citing the Great Recession caused by Wall Street and corporate greed.
Wall Street and corporate greed caused this economic downturn, not state employees. Record profits have returned for them, while working-class people suffer sustained high unemployment and stagnant wages.
Tell Gov. Gregoire that it’s past time that she asked corporate interests to step up and do their share to resolve the state’s financial crisis.