Office of Governor Gary Locke
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 13, 2004
Contact: Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136
Alt Contact: Meagan Macvie, Washington Works Communications Manager, 360-902-0527
State, Unions Reach Tentative AgreementGov. Gary Locke announced today that the state has reached tentative contract agreements with two major state employee unions including the largest state-worker union, the 30,000-member Washington Federation of State Employees, and the 5,200-member Teamsters.
Both agreements call for a 3.2 percent wage increase starting July 2005, plus second-year increases that expire after the 12 months they are in effect.
Both contracts would address pay for employees – such as social workers, park rangers and dental assistants – whose salaries have lagged far behind market rates for workers in similar jobs. Under the agreement, those wages would rise to within 25 percent of market rates.
The agreements also hold the line on health care costs for state employees, reflecting a multi-union agreement earlier this month that would limit employee contributions for health care to 12 percent of total premium costs.
The tentative agreements includes a second-year wage increase of 1.6 percent for the Federation and 2.9 percent for the Teamsters, which represents a majority of the state’s public safety workers.
“I commend both sides for working together to make this happen,” Locke said. “We have entered a new era of labor relations in our state where unions can negotiate directly with the Governor’s Office. It’s an opportunity to provide even better, more cost-effective services to state residents and build a better workplace for employees. I want to especially thank chief negotiator Eva Santos for all of her hard work.”
Santos said, “It was a challenging process, but both the management and union teams acted with professionalism. This tentative agreement is the result of good faith on both sides. It’s the result of the usual give and take that is part of any successful negotiations.”
If state workers represented by the unions ratify the agreements, and funding is approved by the Legislature, the wage increases take effect July 1, 2005, the first year of the two-year contracts. The Teamsters will begin voting immediately on whether to ratify the agreement. The Federation has scheduled voting to begin Sept 20. Under both tentative agreements, all employees covered by these contracts can vote on ratification.
“I am pleased that we were able to reach these first two tentative agreements with the Teamsters and the Federation, and am confident that we will continue to negotiate fair and affordable labor contracts with each of the unions representing state employees,” Santos said.
This year’s contract negotiations mark the first time in state history that unions have been able to bargain with the state for wages and benefits. The new personnel reform law passed by the Legislature in 2002 expanded the state’s collective bargaining activities to include wages and benefits. In the past, the Legislature unilaterally set those terms.
In addition to the contracts with the Teamsters and Federation, Santos and her team are negotiating eight other bargaining agreements with unions representing state employees in general government, community colleges and at The Evergreen State College.
Santos said talks are moving ahead with the other unions. She noted that all of the unions in negotiations with the state already agreed to terms of a health care package, which keeps the employee contribution to 12 percent of total premium costs.
Final contracts between the state and unions representing state employees are due to the Office of Financial Management on Oct. 1. Locke will submit the economic terms of the agreements to the Legislature in his 2005-07 budget proposal.
The 2005 Legislature will have the role of approving or rejecting the cost of the agreements. If the cost proposal is rejected, that would trigger a return to negotiations or unions could request mediation.
“This first tentative agreements with these two unions achieve the goals of the personnel reform law passed by the Legislature and supported by organized labor,” Santos said. “A primary purpose of the legislation is to enable state managers and employees to perform their jobs more effectively, make employment rules consistent and easy to understand, and create a flexible personnel system that anticipates and responds to changing needs.”
As chief negotiator, Santos played the leading role in negotiations that began in February between the governor and state workers represented by labor unions.
“We are committed to establishing collective bargaining agreements that make Washington State a better government, and a better place to work,” she said.
For more information on collective bargaining and personnel system reform in Washington State government, go to the Washington Works website at www.washingtonworks.wa.gov