On Thursday, Governor Inslee released a proposed 2022 supplemental budget that would fund the pay increases WPEA members negotiated for, including a 3.25% COLA for all state employees and one-time payments for the lowest-paid state employees. The budget also dedicates funds for a number of job classes to receive targeted pay increases that did not go through the collective bargaining process.
These targeted increases are long overdue. In many cases, WPEA members asked for these pay raises at the bargaining table for years, and were repeatedly told no. We are glad that the governor’s office has come around and recognized the need to give pay raises to these hardworking people in public service. But it’s always a concern when an employer steps outside the established collective bargaining process – even to provide pay raises. Collective bargaining means that WPEA members are at the table when wages are determined. Bypassing that process risks leaving our wages up to arbitrary decisions by the employer. While we welcome these pay increases, we encourage the governor to follow the collective bargaining process and engage with employees next time he recognizes how underpaid state employees are.
The legislature will consider the governor’s budget, including these targeted raises, during the 2022 session.