On February 7, the House State Government committee passed HB 1888 (the bill to protect public employee birthdates from disclosure) with a bipartisan majority. After hundreds of union members rallied and urged their legislators to pass the bill, lobbyists for the newspapers and public employees came to a compromise. Under the current version of the bill, public employee birthdates would be exempted from disclosure to everyone except media organizations. This would give public employee birthdates the same protections that currently exist for law enforcement.
While the bill just cleared an important hurdle, it has a long way to go before becoming law. Lawmakers still need to hear from public employees. Learn more and send a message to your representatives at www.wpea.org/exposed.
Other good bills that are moving through the process:
House Bill 2654 will require community and technical colleges to report their finances in a standardized, transparent way. Too often, colleges make it difficult for their employees, unions, and the public to get a clear picture of the college finances. Obscuring college finances can lead to confusion around shortfalls and mistrust when fiscal crises happen (like the one at Wenatchee Valley College). A standardized reporting requirement will help build mutual trust and make sure that the public knows what’s happening with the colleges’ finances. The bill passed out of the House College and Workforce Development committee with a unanimous vote.
House Bill 1521 (the bill to increase accountability and transparency when agencies contract out state employee work) passed out of the House of Representatives. This bill requires state agencies and local governments to evaluate the cost of outsourcing work to private contractors, and to follow up to ensure contractors meet their obligations. It also calls for accountability if companies fail to perform their duties.
On Tuesday, January 14, HB 1888 was heard in committee. Public employees testified about the harassment they or their coworkers have faced on the job. One former corrections officer described being stalked and harassed for more than 10 years by an inmate who used public records requests to access her personal information.
The bill’s opponents – representing newspaper owners, other media companies, and the Freedom Foundation – argued that public employee birthdates are necessary to hold the government accountable. When committee Chair Mia Gregerson asked the media representatives to respond to the safety concerns raised by vulnerable public employees, they dismissed the concerns, saying that such personal information was widely available other places.
Public employees have answered the call to do the people’s work. That work is often thankless and dangerous. Our employers shouldn’t expose public servants to more harassment and risk. Tell your legislators to pass HB 1888.
You can watch the hearing on TVW here: https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2020011083
On Friday, January 17, the Senate State Government Committee heard SB 5246, a bill that would, in its current form, release the city, state, and zip code of our home addresses. The same lobbyist for the newspaper owners who opposed HB 1888 testified in support of SB 5246, pushing forward a bill to expose even more of our members’ personal information to anyone who asks for it. WPEA testified against the bill, and we expect that it will either be amended to fix this section, or the bill will be stopped in committee.
You can watch the hearing for SB 5246 on TVW here: https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2020011143
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Mike Nelson, who leads the classified employee union (WPEA), told the board his group would like to know what happens next.
“We are extremely concerned about the financial wellbeing of this institution and how it will impact classified folks in the next year,” he said. “We were shocked by the number of classified folks who were laid off and the positions that were laid off. It didn’t make sense to us from a union standpoint.”
Many of the employees were front-line, student-serving people, he said, with low salaries.
The cuts put a burden on those who are left, he said, and eventually will impact students.
“We didn’t really have extra people,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of fat here at WVC, so the people who do the work are going away and the workload will be distributed to other classified staff.”
He asked the board to be more proactive in reaching out to employees.
“There are a number of folks here who have been laid off. They are very upset about what has happened here because they think it could have been avoided,” he said. “I believe it could have been avoided, with proper management, proper fiscal responsibility and a good plan.”
So far, he said, they haven’t heard the plan.
“President Richardson has not been able to convey to us in a satisfactory manner his intentions to correct the problem. Time and again he has stated what the problem is — we don’t necessarily agree on that — but he has not been able to articulate how we are moving forward. That is something we look forward to hearing as soon as possible.”
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Paid Family and Medical Leave provides paid time off when you need it most. It’s here for you when a serious health condition prevents you from working or when you need time to care for a family member or a new child, or for certain military-related events.
Nearly every Washington worker can qualify for paid leave as long as you work a minimum of 820 hours (about 16 hours a week) in Washington during the qualifying period, which is about the last year. The 820 hours can be at one job or combined from multiple jobs.
To be eligible, you only need to have worked in Washington the 820 hours, experienced a qualifying event and be able to provide proof of identification. Many documents can be used to prove your identity, including school transcripts and birth certificates from other countries.
To find out more information please click here.
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