Connect with us


Senate GOP tea partiers holding state hostage

Rather than compromise, extremists led by Sen. Andy Hill want ANOTHER session


OLYMPIA (June 26, 2015) — “There’s no other way to say it: The state Senate Republicans have been taken over by the Tea Party and their new plan aims for the same kind of endless gridlock we see in the U.S. Congress.”

That’s the conclusion of the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28 in its Hotline message to members on Thursday afternoon describing Senate Republicans’ refusal to compromise on an operating budget and their latest plan to drag out budget negotiations for yet another month.

hill-andyAfter two costly overtime sessions, rather than agree to a compromise operating budget that avoids a state shutdown beginning at midnight on Tuesday, June 30, lead Republican budget negotiator Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) has proposed SB 6051, which would keep the state government running for just one month. That would keep legislators in Olympia throughout July and set up another shutdown deadline of Aug. 1.

Meanwhile, Andy Hill and his caucus — who hold just a two-vote majority in the Senate — are still refusing to fund state employee contracts negotiated by the governor, approved by the House, and supported by 29 of 49 senators. Back in April, they changed Senate rules to allow just 20 senators to block those contracts that would grant state employees their first general wage increases in seven years.

As of Thursday, Andy Hill and 19 of his Tea Party colleagues continue to say they will block these contracts’ approval unless Democrats approve ideological “reforms” that weaken state employees’ collective bargaining rights. When they first announced this demand a month ago, Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson wrote that these Senate extremists were showing “open contempt” for the people who provide our public services:

None of these ideological policies can pass the Legislature on their own merits. A bill to make bargaining talks public meetings failed to pass even the Republican-controlled Senate this year. Demanding such policies in exchange for approving state employees first wage increases in seven years — 4.8% spread over two years, which is significantly less than the 11.2% raises that state legislators themselves were just awarded — horribly disrespects public employees and the critical work they do.

A month later, and those state employee contracts are still being held hostage, just days away from the first state shutdown in Washington’s history.

“Ideology has trumped common sense and human decency,” the WFSE reported Thursday.

TAKE A STAND — Call the Legislative Hotline TODAY at 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message for your State Senator — especially if he or she is a Republican — that this D.C.-style ideological gridlock MUST END NOW! Tell them to do their jobs, stop allowing Tea Party extremists to hold the state hostage, and pass a compromise budget this weekend to avoid a state shutdown.

15Jul01-shutdown-rallyAnd if they don’t, make plans to come to Olympia on Wednesday, July 1 — the first day of a state shutdown — and tell them in person at a Stop the Shutdown rally from noon to 1 p.m. at the State Capitol. Get the details.

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!