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WFSE optimistic as state contract talks begin

TWFSE-14-bargaining-respect-contracthe following is crossposted from the Hotline of the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28:

OLYMPIA (May 21, 2014) — It seems the whole world is watching our Federation General Government Bargaining Team, which formally kicked off contract talks with Gov. Inslee’s negotiators Tuesday.

Talks begin for new state worker contracts for pay in 2015-17,” said a blog headline from The Olympian.

That was the take in the mainstream press. But the anti-collective bargaining Washington Policy Center ran this headline: “Secret state budget talks start today – Governor makes early concession on salary costs.”

WFSE's 2014 General Government Bargaining Team.

WFSE’s General Government Bargaining Team.

In reality, these significant contract negotiations kicked off Tuesday when the General Government Bargaining Team presented its initial proposed language for the collective bargaining agreement that would run from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2017.

The initial package covers a range of non-economic issues from seniority protections to workplace behavior/workplace bullying, from due process at work to hours of work, from overtime to employee rights — and much more. Compensation items will be presented at a later date when more information is available.

devereux-greg-WFSE“We are quite optimistic about these negotiations,” Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux said in opening remarks when the governor’s team arrived for Day 1.

The initial proposal consists of new language that came from members’ bargaining proposals submitted last fall. Tuesday’s package also includes current contract language that the Federation team is not proposing to change.

The General Government team presented the initial proposal on the grounds of the Thurston County Fair in Lacey. The team explained the justification for each proposed change.

Overall, the initial proposal on non-economic items is a solid package that aims to recognize the value of those covered under the Federation General Government contract. The underlying goal is not that different from Goal 5 of the “Results Washington” good government initiative championed by Gov. Jay Inslee: to boost employee morale and job satisfaction and make the State of Washington the employer of choice for talented and qualified workers.

A strong contract helps promote that worthy goal because it values such things as protecting workers’ rights.

Tuesday was just the start of a summer’s worth of bargaining sessions.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!