General Government: Compensation discussed for first time



14661090888_a20436548a_o(1)The Federation’s General Government Bargaining Team presented its initial Compensation proposal to the governor’s negotiators Wednesday (Aug. 6) in a two-day session that saw the team make continuing progress on goals members identified in contract proposals and the recent bargaining priorities survey.

In all the team reached tentative agreement on 11 articles or appendices, bringing the total number of TAs to 35.

Your team also wanted to let you know that it is revisiting a number of issues that didn’t make it into the contract in previous rounds of bargaining.

• Compensation is the big issue that is in the spotlight. Some 98.11 percent of state agency members identified compensation as the No. 1 priority on the recent surveys.

A lot of research went into the Compensation article. And, while we can’t give you details in writing, overall it’s a comprehensive article that aims to make up for lost ground. For instance, you haven’t gotten a cost-of-living adjustment in more than six years.

And we can’t characterize how the management side of the table views it, but your team appreciates that their counterparts apparently are taking a very close look at it to tell us what they might view as workable and what might not be. The goal is to keep the discussions going. It’s all about getting a final agreement that is fair to both sides. Management will respond we believe at the next round of bargaining Aug. 19 and 20.

• Surveys say….

It’s no surprise that compensation and health care topped your list of priorities on the recent General Government bargaining priorities survey. Other issues high on the list were workload, workplace bullying and workplace safety. We can’t give you details in writing, but it’s safe to say your team is working for improvements in all the areas you identified as priorities.

• The General Government team is available to answer more detailed questions in person. Contact them using the form at: http://www.wfse.org/collective-bargaining/general-government/

Or e-mail: contactus@wfse.org

• Meanwhile, Contract Solidarity Events continued around the state this week. It’s an overwhelming show of support for a fair contract. The General Government wants you to know how much it’s making a difference at the table. Keep it up, especially next week on several college campuses and the following week when General Government and Health Care Coalition bargaining resume.

To see photos of the latest events, go to our flickr photostream at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfse/with/14661090888/

• About our visitors….

You have probably seen on the Federation’s website or Facebook page our posts about some visitors who stopped outside General Government bargaining at the Davis-Williams Building in Olympia Wednesday (Aug. 6):

It was Koch and COLA time Wednesday in Olympia as the General Government Bargaining Team, in a show of open and transparent hospitality, hosted a tea party for group secretly funded by the Koch Bros. The group was marching against the Federation movement that ended patronage in state hiring, boosted civil rights, won pay equity for women and a personnel law that gave a voice at work for some of this states lowest paid workers.

This is a group that we understood likes Tea Parties, so the Federation hosts provided appropriate refreshments to the dozen Tea Party visitors: Cups of tea with “It’s COLA time” tea bags and, because we couldn’t find crumpets, we instead provided Ding Dongs and Nutty Bars. We thought they’d get a kick out of that show of hospitality, but the group left before accepting any of our Tea Party refreshments. But two of the visitors told one of their hosts, “Thank you for your hospitality. You’re very nice people.”

You can see several news reports on the not-so-major protest:

Protest Over Closed-Door State Labor Negotiations: http://kuow.org/post/protest-over-closed-door-state-labor-negotiations

Anti-Union ALEC Group Holds a Rally, No One Shows Up
http://fusewashington.org/anti-union_alec_group_holds_a_rally_no_one_shows_up/

And on The Stand (scroll down to STATE GOVERNMENT): http://www.thestand.org/2014/08/080714-news/

And while we were polite and hospitable to our Tea Party guests, their attempt to discredit all bargaining and the collective bargaining law by saying it should be a reality TV show or three-ring circus is to say it politely misguided and disingenuous.

For instance, they say Oregon requires open negotiations, but the parties have the option of meeting in executive session. We checked with Oregon AFSCME Council 75 and they have chosen the common-sense confidential option. Although once in the past 13 or 14 years or so, they invited a reporter into one of their team caucuses.

The Paris Peace Talks or Ronald Reagan’s nuclear arms deal with the Soviets weren’t negotiated in public. But the public through their elected representatives and at the ballot box when politicians ran for re-election ultimately had the final say.

Our General Government bargaining is confidential to allow give and take. But it’s not a blank check. Federation members in General Government (and under all other contracts) must ratify the final agreement, which should be in September. The economics then go to the state budget office to determine if they are “financially feasible.” And the Legislature then considers funding those economic provisions; lawmakers can turn thumbs down and order new negotiations on compensation and other parts of the contract that need budget funds. Of five contracts negotiated since the law started, compensation was in effect vetoed once after the Great Recession hit in the fall of 2008. We didn’t like it, but that’s the law.

So our system of bargaining has a series of checks and balances. That’s just the American way. And what’s wrong with that?

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