During a press conference in January, Jay Inslee claimed that the Republican-backed bill to open secret government negotiations with state employee unions would not be fruitful. He argued that the bill is not needed because the results of the negotiations are “available for an up or down vote.” And “that’s what is really important.”
This Throw Back Thursday, we are re-visiting Inslee’s false statements and the bill that provoked them, Senate Bill 5329.
Shift reported on Inslee’s statements following the press conference, pointing out his dishonesty. An up-or-down vote has not been held since state employees won collective bargaining rights under Gov. Gary Locke in 2002. It has always been folded into the state budget. That’s exactly what makes open, transparent negotiations vital.
The Legislature does, technically, have the power take an up or down vote on the outcome of the secret collective bargaining agreement. But, claiming that’s what is “really important” is, simply put, absurd.
When Locke established the current collective bargaining rules, the state Legislature lost a significant degree of control over the final agreement—particularly the budgeting aspects. The Legislature is no longer able to propose any amendments, or any other changes, to the agreement. Lawmakers’ inability to control any aspect of the agreement places a great deal of strain on their responsibility to write a balanced state budget.
That lack of influence, ironically, dissolves the very important relationship between legislators and their state employee constituents. It is now pointless for union members to reach out to their representatives with workplace grievances or improvement requests. All power rests in the hands of the governor and the union executives.
The consolidation of power makes the transparency of negotiations between the only two parties left at the table—the governor and the union executives—all the more vital. SB 5329 injects accountability for those who, as the law now stands, arguably have too much authority, handing a small degree of power to those who currently have none at all… i.e. the elected members of the state Legislature and the rank-and-file members of state employee unions.
Secret negotiations suit the extreme political agendas of Democrat politicians like Inslee and the union executives who support them. After all, as Shift reported, without the veil of secrecy Inslee would not have been able to pay state employee union executives back for generous contributions to his campaign by conceding a whopping $867 million for pay hikes. He would have had to face public scrutiny and account for his non-factual claims.