Earl Kalles, longtime WPEA board member and LCB employee, passed away on February 20 after battling bone cancer.
Earl was an active union member and part of the WPEA family. He retired from the Liquor Control Board in 2012 but still made time to check in. We will miss his presence.
WPEA extends our heartfelt condolences to Earl's family and friends. Donations may be made to the Puyallup Alumni Association Scholarship Fund at P.O. Box 385, Puyallup, WA 98371. View Earl's obituary.
PEBB announces new wellness incentive and surcharges
On February 27, the Public Employees Benefits Board issued an important mailing announcing a new wellness incentive and two new premium surcharges. These policy changes will go into effect on July 1, 2014.
The new wellness incentive is part of an Executive Order from Governor Inslee. It provides a $125 incentive toward employees’ health care costs in calendar year 2015, pending budgetary approval by the state legislature. Subscribers who want to participate in this incentive must respond to the PEBB between April 1 and June 30.
The new premium surcharges were added by the state legislature at the end of last year’s session. The first surcharge relates to tobacco use. The second surcharge has to do with to whether your PEBB-enrolled spouse or domestic partner qualifies for health coverage through their employer. To avoid these surcharges, all PEBB subscribers must respond to the PEBB between April 1 and May 15.
The PEBB will issue a second letter with more information by the end of March, and a reminder postcard in late April.
Revenue forecast fails to trigger state employee raise
On February 19, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its February revenue forecast showing a total of $33 billion in projected revenue for the 2013-2015 biennium. Unfortunately, this is not enough to trigger the one percent raise built into most state employee labor contracts, including the WPEA Higher Education and General Government agreements.
To trigger the raise, the February revenue forecast needed to show an increase of at least $200 million over the September 2012 revenue forecast. The actual increase was only $11.7 million.
In a press release announcing the new revenue forecast, Director of the Office of Financial Management David Schumacher stated: “By the end of this biennium, state employees will have gone seven years without a general wage increase. We face a number of big challenges in the next biennium – in addition to finding new funding to meet our constitutional basic education obligation, Governor Inslee has made it clear he intends to address a growing backlog of compensation issues.” Read the full press release from the OFM.
WPEA is committed to holding Governor Inslee to his word in the next round of contract bargaining.
One bright spot in the new revenue forecast: the OFM is projecting $51 million in new revenue from marijuana production and sales during the 2015-2017 biennium.
Gearing up for contract bargaining
WPEA is getting ready to bargain the Higher Education and General Government contracts. Bargaining will start in May and continue through August. Show your support and provide feedback to the bargaining team by attending member meetings held in your workplace.
WPEA scholarship program expanded
The WPEA executive board has expanded the scholarship program for 2014. Not only are there more scholarships available, the scholarships are open to WPEA members and their families. The scholarships—which will be awarded for Fall 2014—include:
- Eight $500 scholarships
- Two $1,500 scholarships
- One $3,000 scholarship
Applications are due at WPEA headquarters by May 31. View the 2014 scholarship application.