New information regarding the secret contract negotiations between the Governor’s Office of Financial Management and state employee union leaders reveals the potential for double digit pay raises. According to the Olympian,
“Schiel [president of the Washington Public Employees Union] said in an interview before face-to-face negotiations began – which triggered a no-disclosure rule for negotiators – that his union could seek a double-digit raise for the two-year contract period in 2015-17…
“If the governor’s team were to agree to just a 1 percent pay raise for all general government and higher education employees in 2015 alone, the first-year cost would be about $33 million from the general fund and $44 million from all other funds, according to the OFM. Over two years, the cost grows to $66 million from the general fund and roughly $154 million from all sources.”
All this while the state Supreme Court continues to chastise state legislators for underfunding education for decades.
The top argument for increasing state employee salaries is competitive compensation. Union leaders claim that qualified employees are likely to leave for higher paying opportunities with private sector companies. However, according to a survey conducted by the Office of Financial Management, that prospect is not the reality. The Olympian,
“OFM’s survey overview says pay ranges “are competitive at the entry level” but the lag grows as one moves to the top of ranges. That said, the report finds the state is retaining personnel in more than 90 percent of job classes – “including many of those that fall into the more than 25 percent behind the market category,” OFM wrote in its April overview. The agency has calculated separately that its government-wide job turnover rate was 7.1 percent last year, lower than the U.S. average and lower than any other year since 2009.”
Jay Inslee is on record for encouraging pay raises for state employees. He proclaimed his full support prior to the start of the secret negotiations. Of course, public employee unions also gave Inslee $3 million during his gubernatorial campaign.
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