Despite a 3,700-case backlog, the Pierce County Executive wants to limit the hours of Prosecutor’s Office support staff — the folks who process those cases — to 35.
The following is from the AFSCME Council 28/Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE):
TACOMA (Jan. 9, 2024) — When someone suffers a crime, WFSE members at the Prosecutor’s Office — legal assistants, legal interviewers, and victim advocates — are the victim’s first point of contact. They are the ones who spring the gears of our justice system into action.
“We know our work is important,” said Laura Devereaux, a legal assistant with the prosecutor’s office for the past 27 years. “We just want to be treated like it is.”
Contract negotiations between Pierce County and the professional staff represented by AFSCME Council 28/WFSE have stalled after eight bargaining sessions and two mediations. Employees are pushing for a 40-hour workweek and a living wage. Some employees toward the bottom of the payscale report relying on food pantries to make ends meet.
“Coming into Pierce County, this was supposed to be my career,” said Elyssa Stringfield, a legal assistant. “If I don’t have a 40-hour work week, I don’t know if I can keep my career in Pierce County. I would love to stay here.”
TAKE A STAND — Send a letter to Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier demanding a fair contract for the support staff at the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
The support staff of the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office is one of the only groups of administrative staff who are limited to 35 hours. They want to work more. There’s more work to do. Inexplicably, they aren’t receiving it.
“What does it say about Pierce County’s commitment to care for victims of crime when the people tasked with their advocacy are one of the few teams that are not funded at full time?” asked Heyley Sherman, a crime victim advocate. “Are we 87.5% committed to support public safety?”
There is ample money in the Pierce County General Fund for a living wage and a 40-hour week for support staff in the Prosecutor’s Office.
At the end of 2022, the General Fund reserve was $165 million according to the 2022 annual report. The fund balance is estimated to be at $184.7 million at year-end 2023.
Please send a letter to Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier demanding a fair contract for the support staff.