Jay Inslee’s appointed representatives continue negotiations (read: concessions) with top union executives from the state employees’ unions over renewed compensation contracts. As the proceedings are conducted entirely in secret, the public is left with few clues into what exactly is happening.
The latest clue comes courtesy of the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE)—the powerful union taking lead on contract negotiations. Recently, the WFSE released an “urgent update” concerning the latest round of negotiations that took place July 10-11. Top WFSE officials stated that they were “able to tentatively agree (TA) on 32 articles of the contract.” They assured members that they accepted “NO takeaways and made some gains.” According to the powerful union officials, the initial compensation package offered to them was “totally unacceptable and your team told them so.”
What exactly constitutes a “totally unacceptable” compensation package? The Washington Policy Center’s Jason Mercier ventures to guess, “Is it no raise? A 2% raise? A 6% raise? A 10% raise?” Of course, due to the secret nature of the negotiations, we may never know.
However, if Inslee’s past statements—especially his calls for pay raises for state employees before contract negotiations even started—are any indication, it is safe to assume that the “totally inacceptable” compensation package included pay hikes. It is also safe to assume that the gains made by union representatives included additions to said pay hikes. And, who will be footing the bill of the yet unknown pay hikes? Taxpayers who, of course, are kept in the dark over how their hard-earned dollars will be spent.
The Washington Policy Center writes of the sad reality,
“In a state renowned for its open government and transparency laws, is it good public policy to keep those who will ultimately pay for any contract agreement (taxpayers) in the dark about what the state and union are proposing?
“Realizing that potentially hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, we believe that like other budget related decisions, these meetings should be open to the public. This is exactly what already occurs in several states, a fact that has caught the attention of civic leaders in Washington.”
Concerns for the current state of secret union negotiations are only furthered when Inslee’s direct financial relationships with state employees’ unions are taken into consideration. Public employee unions also gave Inslee $3 million during his gubernatorial campaign.
Are you concerned about our state’s secret union negotiations proceedings? Learn about a petition seeking to open union negotiations to the public here.