Last time Jay Inslee held secret negotiations with state employee union executives, our green governor conceded quite a lot. In fact, state employee unions walked away from the so-called “negotiations” over the 2015-16 contracts with more than an additional $300 million in pay raises.
Well, once again, Inslee is engaged in secret negotiations with the state employee union bosses — this time it’s over their 2017-19 contract. And, once again, Inslee looks ready to concede substantial pay raises.
After all, these unions put a $1 million into electing Inslee in 2012, and he needs to repay that debt to ensure similar assistance this year.
According to the Washington Policy Center, “based on the 2017-19 budget instructions released recently by the Office of Financial Management (OFM),” it appears as though Inslee is “open to granting some type of pay raise.” The instructions read:
“In addition, the state continues to face cost pressures to address state workforce and vendor compensation needs and other policy issues.”
State employee unions have scheduled rallies to encourage Inslee to concede additional pay raises. Those rallies are scheduled for this week because the secret negotiations are supposed to begin focusing on the issue of new pay raises.
Considering it is taxpayers who will foot the bill for whatever Inslee gives away to his big campaign donors, the secretive nature of the “negotiations” is unacceptable. Of course, the situation becomes all the more sketchy when one stops to consider that Inslee is worried about his re-election bid, and needs the unions’ campaign cash.
This is an issue of government transparency, but it’s also an issue of democratic representation. Under our state’s current laws, the state Legislature — the people’s representatives — cannot make any amendments to the contacts that result from Inslee’s secret negotiations with his buddies. Lawmakers are restricted to a simple yes-or-no vote.
It’s time for the state Legislature to take back the power to determine the compensation costs for state employees — that’s how it was prior to Democrats changing the law in 2002 and that’s how it should be again.
Newspapers across the state have called on the legislature to eliminate the conflict of interest that governors face when negotiating with major campaign donors using other people’s money. Now, will any Democrat lawmakers stand up for what’s right?