The secret negotiations between Jay Inslee and the state employee unions were successfully concluded yesterday – if your definition of success is “the largest compensation package since the start of full-scope collective bargaining in 2004” for “some 30,000 state agency workers represented by the Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28.”
The media and taxpayers were prohibited by Inslee and the unions from actually knowing what was on the negotiating table in these negotiations, as Shift has written about in the past. What the public does know is that:
- The unions that Inslee treated so well in these negotiations – AFSCME and the Washington Federation of Station Employees (WFSE) – contributed $800,000 to help elect Inslee in 2012
- WFSE is one of just five donors that have contributed to Inslee’s Super PAC to help re-elect him this year – $50,000 back on May 26, when negotiations on this pay raise package were just starting
*Inslee had already tipped his hand that he planned to pay back his big campaign donors less than two weeks before WFSE wrote that big check in May, telling the union’s policy committee members that “it’s just clear to me that it’s unacceptable that state employees have gone so long without a general pay increase.” In fact, according to the union’s newsletter, “it was at least the third time the governor had spoken about the need for a state employee pay raise. He said it in December when he unveiled his supplemental budget plan and again in January during his “State of the State” address.”
So, while were in the dark about the very “tough” negotiations going on between these buddies, it’s clear that Inslee had been promising state employees that he wanted to give them a pay raise – with taxpayer money – and that the union demonstrated it wanted to make sure he stayed in office long enough to follow through on that promise by writing a $50,000 check to Inslee’s Super PAC. And now we know how big the payoff will be for the unions, and it’s not just the 6% raises that 30,000 state employees will receive in the next two years. It’s also:
- a locked-in high percentage (85%) of the cost of their generous healthcare benefits paid by state taxpayers – employees only pay 15% of their premiums
- more vacation time, up to five weeks a year for long-time state employees
- a guaranteed minimum wage for any state employee that is 25% above the state’s minimum wage
The bottom line for taxpayers for this sweet deal? “The Office of Financial Management, the governor’s budget office that negotiates labor contracts, estimated the contract will cost the state about $170 million over two years.”
For that kind of rate of return on the $800,000 investment in 2012, you have to wonder how much more than $50,000 that AFSCME and WFSE will put in to Jay’s Super PAC now, to ensure that this kind of “tough” negotiating ability is around two years from now.
Of course, Inslee doesn’t expect the state’s economy to do well enough to cover all the costs he is increasing in state government. As he told the union leaders back in May, between the need for increases in education spending, social programs, and employee pay raises, ““We are going to recognize the cold hard fact that the state of Washington is going to have to find a way to generate additional revenues to solve this problem.”
Which, of course, to Inslee means creating a state income tax.