Today the legislature wraps up a 30-day special session without coming to an agreement about education funding or whether to approve public employee contracts. Governor Jay Inslee is calling for a second special session to begin immediately.
We’re getting perilously close to a potential July 1st government shutdown. The House has already passed a budget that funds our contracts and invests in public service. The problem is in the Senate, where they passed a budget that would reject our contracts and cut public services.
So the thing to do now is to call your Senator to urge them to adopt the House budget and invest in Washington!
Here's a sample script:
“I work as a ______ (job) at _______ (agency) and I’m a member of the Washington Public Employees Association. I’m one of thousands of state employees who provide critical services for the citizens of Washington. I’m proud to do this work, even though the state pays a salary that is below market rate, according to the state’s own salary survey. Now the Senate has released a budget that plays political games with the collective bargaining agreements we negotiated in good faith. Don’t play games with public service employees. Please adopt the House budget, invest in Washington and fully fund our contracts.”
On April 20, eleven Food Safety Officers from the Department of Agriculture traveled to Olympia to advocate for public employee contracts. They met with their senators to explain the importance of food safety and of investing in public employees. “Our primary message highlighted the importance of our jobs not only to promote commerce in Washington state but throughout the world” said Jeff Freshley, a Food Safety Officer and WPEA bargaining team member.
Most of the members had not talked to their legislators before. For many, it was their first time visiting the capitol. “I must say this was a positive and interesting process,” said Jeff. “Many in government don’t know who we are or what we do.”
The meetings came at the tail end of regular session, as the legislature was still divided as to whether to fund state employee contracts. The House released a budget that fully funds our contracts, while the Senate released a budget that explicitly rejects the contracts. On Monday, April 24, the legislature started a 30-day special session. They have until June 30 to reach a deal to avoid a government shutdown.
While many lawmakers expressed support when meeting with the FSOs, we cannot guarantee the contracts will be funded unless we keep up the pressure. Call your senator at 1-800-562-6000 and ask them to invest in Washington, adopt the House budget, and fund our vital state employee contracts.
Jeff summarized the experience: “Bottom line I would say it was positive and something we need to do each and every session.”