WPEA Legislative Update, Week 8
We’re in the thick of cutoff season, that series of deadlines by which bills have to make it through specific steps in the process, or else they die.
Most WPEA priority bills are moving steadily through the process. Our bills to protect public employee privacy (HB 1187 and HB 1533) have received strong bipartisan votes in committee, as did the bill to put our public safety telecommunicators into a better-fit pension (HB 1055 / SB 5328). WPEA members have shared personal stories about how they’ve been doing more with less, the impacts of staffing shortages in their workplaces, and how the legislature can keep public employees safe at work.
See the bill tracker for the status of WPEA priority bills.
Contracts & Budget
This year, WPEA members in General Government and Higher Education successfully negotiated the largest compensation package in the history of statewide collective bargaining, including a total of 7% in general wage increases, a $1000 retention bonus, a $1.50-per-hour increase in shift premium, $4000 in lump sums for teachers at the school for the deaf and school for the blind, and targeted class increase for 63 job classes. While these pay increases do not begin to keep up with inflation, it is vital that the legislature fully fund these contracts.
The Governor’s budget funded Higher Ed classified staff contracts at 83%, which is a better fund mix than in recent years, but still about $30 million short of full funding. Given that enrollment is down across the system, colleges don’t have the same local money to make up the difference that they did during the Great Recession. If the legislature fails to fully fund these contracts, it could result in cuts at some colleges.
Labor and the SBCTC are united in asking the legislature for full funding for our contracts.
Union Communication Privacy
HB 1187 (Hackney) - PRO
Union members rely on confidentiality when talking with stewards or other union representatives about issues at work; WPEA stewards and staff work hard to protect the confidentiality of those communications. Just like talking to a lawyer, a doctor, or a counselor, talking to a union rep can involve personal or sensitive information that must remain confidential. But that kind of communication with a union rep doesn’t have the same protection under law that communication with a lawyer or counselor does. This year, we’re working to pass a common-sense, bipartisan bill to protect communication between union members and their union representatives.
The bill passed with a strong 10-1 bipartisan vote out of the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee, after we incorporated a number of concerns from employers. We are hoping to move this bill quickly, before employers can effectively organize against it.
Public Safety Telecommunicator Pensions
HB 1055 (Stokesbary) / SB 5328 (Van De Wege) - PRO
911 communication centers, including those operated by Washington State Patrol, have been hit as hard as any agency by the ongoing staffing crisis at the state. The Wenatchee communication center was closed last year due to short staffing, and the rest are in dire straits. I spoke with a member, a 25-year veteran communications officer, who regularly works 60-hour weeks (6 am – 6 pm, Monday through Friday) answering 911 calls and dispatching first responders. This bill would put these members into the Public Safety Employee Retirement System, which offers earlier retirement for those who serve at least 10 years. It should help with recruitment and especially retention, getting folks to stay a bit longer to be vested for early retirement.
The bill is bipartisan and is moving smoothly through the process. I provided written testimony as the bill was moving through the Select Committee on Pension Policy before session, and testified in the Senate with our members’ stories.
SB 5694 (Hunt) - PRO
Every two years, the state conducts a salary survey that demonstrates just how far behind market rate state employee salaries are – but OFM says they can’t use the salary survey as a reason to raise salaries for those farthest behind. This year, WPEA is joining with other state employee unions to pass legislation that will let us actually use the state’s salary survey as a tool during our salary negotiations.
After a slow start and plenty of objections from OFM / State HR, the bill was heard in the last week before policy cutoff. WPEA steward and bargaining team member Margaret Hodun testified in both the House and Senate hearings.
Unfortunately, SB 5694 did not make it past fiscal cutoff, as it did not get a hearing in the Senate Ways and Means committee by the deadline on February 24. We will continue working to get pieces of this policy into law through a budget proviso.
Data privacy for survivors of DV/ stalking / sexual assault
HB 1533 (Mena) - PRO
Arising from a case originally brought by a WPEA member, this bill protects personal information in the personnel files of covered state employees from being disclosed under the Public Records Act. For survivors of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, this bill would provide stronger protections than HB 1888 (2020’s birthdate bill) currently does. Members could provide a sworn affidavit that they need protection because they are survivors of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. Under the bill, their birthdate, job title, addresses of work stations and locations, work email address, work phone number, and bargaining unit would be protected from disclosure under the PRA.
Two WPEA members provided powerful personal testimony on the bill at the hearing, and the bill passed out of the committee unanimously. It was also featured among a suite of bills addressing domestic violence at a bipartisan press conference.
HB 1825 (Harris) - PRO
The bargaining team was able to successfully negotiate $4000 in lump-sum payments for certificated staff at the Washington State School for the Blind and the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth. But that isn’t enough to close the gap between what the teachers at those schools make and what the teachers in the Vancouver Public Schools make. We’re working on legislation that will raise teacher salaries and give teachers more control over their compensation.
The certificated staff at both schools have been tremendous in their work on this, especially Deirdre Curl, Carol Schultz, and Shannon Graham from CDHY, and Annie Stockton and Brooke Richardson from WSSB.
We’ve had great meetings with Representative Paul Harris who is sponsoring the bill. He also wants to find other creative ways of getting these teachers more compensation. While the bill won’t make it all the way through the process this year, we are in good shape for passage next year.
Issues with the NAVIA benefit card
If you are having trouble with your FSA NAVIA card, or having issues with the card balance not prefilling, please contact Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Program at 1-800-200-1004. Recently, we were notified that NAVIA is sending employees to the Union to resolve this, but PEBB will be answer questions about the account.
Nathe Lawver elected to succeed Patty Rose as PCCLC leader
TACOMA (Feb. 10, 2023) — Nathe Lawver was elected Wednesday as Secretary-Treasurer of the Pierce County Central Labor Council (PCCLC), AFL-CIO, a position held for the past 20 years by longtime labor and community leader Patty Rose who is retiring next month. The PCCLC represents the interests of 96 affiliated unions with some 45,000 rank-and-file members in Pierce County.
Lawver has been an advocate for Pierce County’s working families for more than 15 years, having served as Director-level staff for two local unions in both the private retail sector and construction sectors, and securing better wages and working conditions through legislative processes. He also previously served as PCCLC’s Political Director. Last year, he was elected by his peers to be Executive Secretary of the Pierce County Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO.
“With the popularity of unions at a historic high, and with many active organizing campaigns happening right now, I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to serve the hardworking people of Pierce County,” Lawver said. “By joining together, we can continue to improve wages, benefits and working conditions so we can all prosper and live the American dream. Because we all do better when we all do better.”
Rose praised the PCCLC affiliates’ choice of Lawver to lead the council.
“I’m thrilled that Nathe will succeed me as Secretary Treasurer of the Pierce County Central Labor Council,” Rose said. “He will carry on and expand the great work of our labor council. I can retire knowing the PCCLC will thrive under the direction of Nathe and our President Vance Lelli.”
(Stay tuned for an announcement soon about Rose’s retirement celebration.)
Lawver and his wife Alicia, both graduates of Pacific Lutheran University, chose Tacoma as their place to live in 2001. They have raised three children there, along with assorted pets that include flocks of chickens and, currently, three dogs and a cat. He enjoys reading history, cooking and travel.
Lawver serves as Vice Chair of the board of directors for United Way of Pierce County, and on the board of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation.
Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=114339
“We Out Here!” JOIN US on Saturday, February 25, 2023 for a celebration of diverse leadership & more!
View Flyer Here
The A. Philip Randolph Institute, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and Racial Justice & Diversity Committees of the Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO are proud to announce “We Out Here!” A celebration of diverse leadership, in honor of and in solidarity with AFL-CIO Constituency Groups during Black History Month. We Out Here! will be held on Saturday, February 25, 2023 starting at 7pm at the Teamsters Hall in Tukwila. We will have food and drinks from around the world, music and a dance floor - an evening filled with joy and justice. RSVP: https://bit.ly/3Xz4cs0
We know that anything that divides our solidarity is a threat to our movement, and to working people’s wellbeing. We’re seeing immense enthusiasm for organized labor, especially among younger workers from increasingly diverse generations. To support current and future union members, to be a welcoming home and an effective movement for building worker power, we must understand that people closest to the problem are also closest to the solution.
“We Out Here!” JOIN US on Saturday, February 25, 2023 for a celebration of diverse leadership, in honor of and in solidarity with AFL-CIO Constituency Groups during Black History Month.
Please join in solidarity to support the working class struggle of all workers in our communities, learn more in The Stand and RSVP to We Out Here! on 2/25: https://bit.ly/3Xz4cs0
For the 2023 awards, online applications will be accepted for the UFCW Charity Foundation Scholarship from any student who has graduated from high school, will be graduating in the spring of 2023, or has received their GED. This year the application will be available from February 13 through May 14, 2023, and we are proud that the Charity Foundation will award at least eight scholarships worth up to $8,000 each over a four-year period. You may also visit the UFCW Charity Foundation website at https://ufcwcharityfoundation.org/scholarship/
IAM 751 applauds Boeing plan to add 737 MAX line in Everett
EVERETT, Wash. (Jan. 31, 2023) — The Boeing Co. announced on Monday that, due to strong product demand, it will add a fourth 737 MAX production line for its single-aisle family to existing factory space in Everett, Wash. According to the company, the new line is expected to increase 737 MAX production capacity by 25 percent and will be operational in 2024.
“This is a great opportunity to utilize the space available in Everett,” said IAM District 751 President and Directing Business Representative Jon Holden. “Our members can make a real impact in meeting the production needs for the 737.”
In an interview with KIRO News, Holden called the news a win-win situation for more than just future Boeing workers.
“We can own homes. We can save for our families to get a higher education or go into trade school. We can do a lot in our community with these jobs,” Holden said.
Most of the team that will open and work on this fourth line, being called The North Line, will be current Everett employees transitioning from areas where work is winding down. The current 737 lines are staying in Renton.
The North Line is a way for the Boeing Co. to address customer demand, especially as the -7 and -10 work towards certification. At this point, the company has a backlog of nearly 4,300 737s in the years ahead. Work on preparing the facility is already under way.
In a memo to employees sent Monday, Stan Deal, President & CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes wrote:
“To be clear, we are not taking the 737 out of Renton – just adding capacity to capture customer demand, especially for the newer models like the -8200 and 737-10. Everett is a great fit with the availability of highly-skilled workers and factory space.
“In addition to preparing the facility, we have begun the process of notifying and preparing our suppliers, customers, unions and employees as we take the necessary steps to create a new line. We are methodically working through all of our checks and balances keeping safety and quality top of mind.
“We greatly appreciate the support of the Washington delegation in Congress, especially Senators Murray and Cantwell and Representatives Smith and Larsen, who represent our Renton and Everett sites respectively, as well as legislative leaders in Olympia, the Mayors of Everett and Renton, and the Snohomish County Executive.
“We also thank the IAM for working closely with us to support the safe certification of the MAX-7 and MAX-10. This announcement underscores our commitment to the state and to Washington workers.”
IAM District 751, which represents more than 30,000 members at the Boeing Co. in Washington state and Oregon, will continue to bring its members new information on the North Line as it becomes available, including how staffing will occur.
Learn more at IAM751.org.
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Labor Center’s Intro to Workplace Representation will be in March
SEATTLE (Jan. 27, 2023) — Are you a union member looking for ways to address and solve problems at your workplace? Or a new or experienced shop steward looking for a fresh take on supporting your coworkers?
Join the Washington Labor Education and Research Center for Building Workplace Power: An Introduction to Workplace Representation. This four-week training will cover the basic laws, principles and skills of contract enforcement, with an emphasis on the organizing skills we need to build unity and power at work. Hybrid classes (in-person and online) will take place each Tuesday in March from 6 to 8 p.m. Registration is now open!
Each Tuesday’s class is part of the series and participants completing all four sessions will receive a certificate of completion.
“I recommend this 4-part series to staff who work with stewards and stewards who are passionate about learning the fundamentals of how organizing, contract enforcement, and representational work overlap,” said Anjulie Bashira Knowles, Member Resource Center Representative for SEIU Local 925. “All are essential to building stronger union engagement. Our discussions were educational, the teaching techniques were highly interactive, and through this opportunity I was able to develop my skills and immediately put them into practice in my day-to-day work!”
“I attended the Introduction to Workplace Representation training,” said Patrice Robinson, Seattle Association of Educational Office Professionals. “The trainers explained concepts and answered questions thoroughly. I would recommend this training to anyone who is involved in union work.”
In-person participants will meet at the Georgetown Apprenticeship and Education Center, 6737 Corson Ave. S. in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. The Labor Center has free parking and is accessible by Metro.
The full series costs $40 per person and participants are encouraged to ask their union to pay the cost. No one turned away for lack of funds. Childcare support and language interpretation available with advance registration. Please bring a copy of your union contract to each session.
Get more information or go ahead and register today!
Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=113945