OLYMPIA (June 4, 2015) — In stark contrast to the Senate Republicans, whose budget has been dubbed “smoke and mirrors,” House Democratic leaders released a new budget plan this week that demonstrates true compromise and avoids a state government shutdown that looms on July 2, layoffs or holding state employee contracts hostage in pursuit of ideological anti-union policies.
The new House plan would fully fund all contracts as negotiated, which a modest 4.8 percent raise over two years for state employees, their first general wage increase in seven years. In contrast, the Senate Republicans’ plan demanded that state employees give up bargaining rights as a condition of getting those contracts funded and wanted thousands of state workers’ spouses to incur additional surcharges for health coverage.
“The House plan on our contracts is right,” summarized the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28. “The Senate plan on contracts is wrong.”
TAKE A STAND! — All union members and community supporters of quality public services are urged to click here to send your legislators a message urging them to stop playing political games, avoid a looming state government shutdown, and fully fund the state employee contracts.
Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, has taken Senate Republicans to task for releasing another budget proposal “that demonstrates exactly why a budget agreement has proved so elusive and sets our state on a course toward a government shutdown beginning July 1.”
What is inexcusable is the Senate Republicans’ open contempt for the people who keep our communities safe, care for the elderly and disabled, teach and protect our children, maintain our roads, and provide other essential services. Our state employees have made significant sacrifices in recent years. They have not had a general pay increase in seven years. In fact, for two of those years, state workers took 3 percent pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs.
This year, they are finally due to get modest wage increases if the Legislature funds their contracts. The governor supports this, the House voted to approve this, and 29 of 49 senators voted in favor of this. But somehow, it remains a sticking point in these unproductive budget negotiations. Why? Because Senate Republicans have chosen to take these contracts hostage to try to force passage of ideological policy changes.
Meanwhile WFSE and other state employee unions are not letting up the pressure on state legislators to do the right thing as “Public Service Matters” events continue across the state. After months of radio ads and rallies by the coalition of state employee unions:
► Corrections workers represented by Teamsters Local 117 plan informational picketing on Thursday, June 11 on both the east and west sides of the state to urge against a government shutdown and for passage of a budget that funds state contracts “with no strings attached.”
► WFSE is planning a second round of Unity Breaks on Thursday, June 18 when thousands of state employees will walk out of their worksites — as they did on May 20 — to once again call on the Legislature to end the budget stalemate and fully fund the contracts.