General Government Bargaining Team celebrates after reaching tentative agreement on 2017-19 contract.

BULLETIN: 6% pay raises, hold-the-line on health care costs, more vacation leave in General Government tentative agreement

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General Government Bargaining Team celebrates after reaching tentative agreement on 2017-19 contract.

General Government Bargaining Team celebrates after reaching tentative agreement on 2017-19 contract.

9/13/16 5:30 P.M.

BULLETIN: Tentative agreement reached on new General Government contract with 6 percent raise over two years, hold-the-line health care article, first increase in vacation time in 40-plus years

Tentative agreement was reached earlier today (Sept. 13) on a new contract with across-the-board raises of 6 percent over two years, that holds the line on your share of health insurance premiums and brings more vacation leave to those covered by the WFSE/AFSCME General Government contract.

In total, it represents the largest compensation package since the start of full-scope collective bargaining in 2004.

It would mean across-the-board raises of 6 percent over two years and other targeted pay adjustments. The package would go a long way to bringing real raises to some 30,000 state agency workers represented by the Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28.

Under the health care article agreed to at the state employee coalition table Sept. 9, your share of health insurance premium costs remains at 15 percent, with no takeaways and an increased wellness incentive.

It also enacts a minimum wage standard so no member will make less than $12 an hour ever again.

It helps struggling state employee families and protects taxpayers by addressing the revolving door in state hiring so dedicated state employees can afford to answer the call of service.

The across-the-board raises also go to members under the tentative agreements already reached at Central Washington University http://wfse.org/ratification-cwu/ , Eastern Washington University http://wfse.org/ratification-ewu/ , Washington State University http://wfse.org/ratification-wsu/ and The Evergreen State College Classified Staff http://wfse.org/ratification-tesc-classified/ where they agreed to “me-too” provisions to mirror whatever General Government got on across-the-board raises.

Bargaining continues at several other tables as of the time of this update, including the Community College Coalition, the University of Washington and Western Washington University. Please support them as they fight for the best agreements for their members.

More details on the General Government agreement are coming in the mail and online at http://wfse.org/ratification-gg/.

Here are major highlights:

• The new contract would bring across-the-board pay raises of 6 percent over two years: 2 percent on July 1, 2017, 2 percent on July 1, 2018 and another 2 percent on Jan. 1, 2019. The 6 percent is the largest cost-of-living adjustment since full-scope collective bargaining began.

• Additional targeted pay adjustments for more than 10,400 of those members to address recruitment-and-retention and other issues.

• The special assignment pay adjustments gained earlier this year in mental health now become permanent under the tentative agreement. It will cover similar job classes at other facilities.

• The agreement enacts a $12 minimum wage bringing those such as custodian 1s, food service workers, office assistant 1s and park aides up to pay ranges at or above $12 an hour. Pay ranges below $12 an hour will be eliminated so that no member will ever make less than $12 an hour ever again.

• To address the plight of members living in high-cost areas of the state and find a comprehensive solution as soon as possible, the agreement sets up a Regional Compensation Issues work group immediately to make informed recommendations “regarding regional compensation issues across the state, particularly for King County.” This is meant as a path forward to address locality pay sooner rather than later – the work group memorandum of understanding took effect when the tentative agreement was reached and begins immediately, not when the entire contract would take effect July 1, 2017.

• Health care

WFSE Exec. Dir. Greg Devereux signs Health Care article tentative agreement 9/9/16.

WFSE Exec. Dir. Greg Devereux signs Health Care article tentative agreement 9/9/16.

Despite intense pressure from anti-state employee groups to make you pay a higher percentage of your health premium costs, the agreement holds the line with the employer (the state) continuing to pay 85 percent of employee health insurance premium costs and employees still paying 15 percent.

It also maintains the provision that point-of-service costs in the Classic Uniform Medical Plan may not be changed for the purpose of shifting health care costs to plan participants, except to support value-based benefits designs and to comply with federal mandates.

Keeping these provision goes a long way to hold the line on health costs.

In addition, members who register for the Smart Health Program for wellness, will get a $25 gift certificate if they complete the well-being assessment form online. That’s in addition to the current $125 reduction in deductible for those who go on to complete the Smart Health Program activities.

• In addition to the compensation package, the new contract includes the first increase in vacation leave accrual rates in 40 years. For instance, in the first and second years of employment, employees would get two additional days of leave a year, 14 instead of the current 12. At the top end, 25 years and above, employees would get 25 days instead of the current cap of 22 days.

• Members with a workstation in King County will also be able to receive an ORCA card for travel on public transportation.

The General Government Bargaining Team reached tentative agreement on the new two-year contract at about 2:44 p.m., today, Sept. 13.

General Government members now must vote to accept or reject that tentative agreement. Information will be coming soon in the mail on the tentative agreement and the online ratification voting process. More details on the tentative agreement online: http://wfse.org/ratification-gg/

The new two-year General Government Collective Bargaining Agreement would take effect July 1, 2017, and expire June 30, 2019.

“This is a monumental agreement — it couldn’t have happened without the ideas from our members, their actions in every corner of the state and the major statement they made when they packed the rotunda of the state Capitol for the big rally Aug. 31,” said union President Sue Henricksen. “Bargaining is an all-member process and now the governor and his team know when they stare across the bargaining table they see the faces of 30,000 dedicated workers who simply want a contract so they can afford to answer the call of public service.”

The ratification vote must take place by Oct. 1. Online ratification information: http://wfse.org/ratification-gg/ It then goes to the governor’s budget office for inclusion in his budget request. The 2017 Legislature will vote up or down on funding. If they reject the funding, the contract will go back for renegotiation.

To ensure legislative ratification of our contract, is it important for all members to vote in the Nov. 8 General Election.

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5 Comments

  1. Thanks for the update and thank you bargaining team and staff for all your hard work and perseverance. I know first hand the sacrifices you all make in serving on the bargaining team and want you all to know how appreciated it is. You’ve done well for our Union and our community.

  2. 26.8 percent below market rate and we are supposed to be happy with a mere 6 percent raise. Teamsters just got the prisons additional raises. Why are they able to get more raises for their union members! We need change and someone who is going to truly fight for us. Union members are unhappy with the union and lack of progress. Ridiculous.

  3. Good morning Tim not sure how I got taken out of your email list but I had to get this from a friend. It would sure be nice to know how the Dosh language came out.

  4. Not sure I like how much of the 6% increase is backloaded later in the contract. Also, for PERS2 members, the contribution rate is increasing by 1.26% on July 1, 2017, so that will take out a big chunk the 2% increase to occur the same day. Guess I will have to wait for almost two years to see much of a pay raise. The increase in annual leave is great though! I have been requesting this for a long time.

  5. Not impressed.