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Funding state employee contracts is good for small businesses


UPDATE (May 28, 2015) — From — Small businesses to Senate: Fund state employee contracts — The Coalition of State Employee Unions stood shoulder to shoulder with small business owners Wednesday to hammer home to the state Senate that funding state employees’ pay raises is just good business. (Also check out WFSE’s video coverage of the event.)

PSM-small-business-supports_frontOLYMPIA — Washington’s small businesses are supporting state employees by urging the State Legislature to fund the state collective bargaining agreements. Several hundred business owners around the state have signed postcards to their legislators that say funding the contracts is good for business and good for local economies.

Those postcards will be delivered to legislators Wednesday, May 27 following a brief press conference at 12:30 p.m. at Capitol Florist, 515 Capitol Way S. in Olympia.

Washington’s largest employer, the state government, has not granted its employees a general wage increase in seven years.  For two of those years, they took 3 percent pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs. Throughout that period, inflation has eroded the value of public workers’ pay.

“State employees are our friends, neighbors and family members… (and) also customers who support our local businesses,” reads the business owners’ postcards. “When we invest in public employees, not only to we get the vital services they provide, they also increase the prosperity of our community. That’s because for every $1.00 invested in a state employee, they return $1.60 to our community.”

Gov. Jay Inslee, the state House of Representatives and a bipartisan majority in the state Senate — 29 of 49 senators — all support fully funding the state employee contracts. For most state employees, those contacts include modest raises of 3 percent on July 1, 2015, and 1.8 percent on July 1, 2016. (In contrast, a commission just awarded 11.2 percent raises to the state legislators themselves.)

But despite having plenty of votes to pass the Legislature, Senate Republican budget negotiators are refusing to fund the contracts unless they get changes that would politicize the collective bargaining process and make it harder for state employees to win raises in the future. They have held the state employee contracts hostage to these demands throughout the special extended legislative session that concludes Thursday without a budget agreement.

The May 27 small business press event is organized by the unions that represent state employees — from corrections officers to health inspectors, from nurses at public hospitals to faculty at community colleges.  These unions have been coordinating #PublicServiceMatters events across the state.

ALSO at The Stand:

Statewide radio ads remind all that ‘Public Service Matters’ (May 11)

Message to Olympia: Public Service Matters! (April 20)

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!