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Welfare & Pension Inc. strike continues; call the owners

Call WPAS owners, tell them to end union-busting and settle a fair contract!


MERCER ISLAND, Wash. (Aug. 29, 2017) — The workers who administer health and pension benefits for thousands of union members in the Pacific Northwest have been on strike for a week. After 11 months of negotiations and seven months without a contract, members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 8 who work at Welfare & Pension Administration Services, Inc. walked off the job on Wednesday, Aug. 23 and WPAS owners have been administering union benefits with a skeleton staff that includes temporary scab workers.

TAKE A STAND — Please call Welfare & Pension Inc. owners and tell them to settle a fair contract NOW: 1-800-732-1121 or 206-441-7574; Richard Kafer at ext. 3940; Dennis Kirkpatrick at ext. 3920; and Tony Ibrahim at ext. 3100. Also show your solidarity with these OPEIU members by joining their picket line at the WPAS office at 7525 SE 24th St. in Mercer Island. Pickets will be active from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until the contract fight is satisfactorily resolved.

At left is Richard Kafer, when he was a staffer on strike from Welfare & Pension Inc in 1988. Now Kafer is the union-busting president of the company.

WPAS, which employs 95 union employees, was originally established by labor unions as a non-profit organization to administer health and pension benefits for union-negotiated plans. WPAS is now a private for-profit corporation. Employees there have had a union contract since 1973 and last went on strike in 1988.

The main issues the workers are fighting for are to maintain seniority rights, a cap on medical premium cost share, and reestablishing their retirement after losing their pension benefit last year. Check out this Facebook Live video of the picket line.

According to the flier being distributed on the picket line…

Our employer’s last, best and final offer attacks the fundamental principles of worker rights and would bring our standard of living and morale to an all-time low. As frontline union staff, we have kept this health insurance and pension benefits administrator running strong for decades, providing excellent service to clients, most of whom are also part of our labor community. Welfare & Pension Inc. can’t claim to share the union values of the clients, while continuing to put forward union busting proposals including:

End seniority rights by removing its application throughout the contract, including for layoff

Eliminate union dues deduction

Cut health benefits and significantly increase out-of-pocket costs for Local 8 members

Make it harder to qualify for those health benefits by increasing the eligibility requirements for part-time employees

Remove the cap on medical premium cost share increases

Refuse to contribute to 401(k) benefits at the level that reestablishes our retirement after we wgreed to withdraw from our pension last year

For more information, visit the OPEIU 8 website or get updates at the union’s Facebook page.

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!