Public employees step up donations
Employees around the state have stepped up to donate to those affected by the recent mudslide in Oso. The state quickly launched the Mudslide Relief Campaign and in the first eight hours alone, public employees donated $7,000 to the relief effort.
If you'd like to help, you can make a donation through the Combined Fund Drive's donation portal. Donations can be made through payroll pledges or credit/debit payments and can be directed to the American Red Cross, the Snohomish County Search and Rescue, the WSDOT Memorial Foundation, and other groups.
UPDATE: State worker donation site reports $66,000 raised for slide victims as of April 15. The site will stop collecting credit/debit donations on April 18.
No WPEA members appear to be missing in this deadly disaster, although several members live near the affected area.
PEBB issues important mailing on wellness incentive and surcharges
On March 28, the Public Employees Benefits Board issued an important mailing on the new wellness incentive and premium surcharges that will go into effect on July 1, 2014.
The new wellness incentive 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 are related to tobacco use and 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.
Please visit the PEBB website for more information on these important new programs.
Protest shows solidarity over outsourcing
On March 3, nearly 100 noisy picketers stood up for living wages, crashing Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela's campaign kickoff event. Valenzuela is facing heat for her controversial vote to outsource nine county jobs to a for-profit company known to pay sub-standard wages.
Members of AFSCME, WFSE, WPEA, OWLS, and RPEC picketed to show Valenzuela that elected officials who outsource living-wage jobs will be held accountable. Learn more about outsourcing.
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.