Government Affairs

Washington State

Adrienne Thompson, Government Affairs Director, 206-328-7321 - ext. 115

State budget signed by Gov. Inslee right before deadline; shutdown averted, state contracts and Public Health funded

Governor Inslee signed the state operating budget at 11:15 p.m. on June 30 in time to avoid a government shutdown on July 1.

Two Local 17 legislative priorities were included in the 2017-19 budget: our state employee contracts and new funding for Public Health. Additionally, lawmakers passed a historic plan to provide paid family and medical leave statewide -- it will be the most progressive and comprehensive coverage in the country. These are all big wins for our members, their families, and our communities.

In order to fund all of these components, plus meet the state’s obligation to fund K-12 education as required by the Washington Supreme Court, the budget includes new revenue from an increase in property taxes and closes some tax loopholes.

State members -- your COLAs and other wage adjustments will be reflected in your July 25 paychecks. Visit the Local 17 State employee page to see what is in the ratified 2017-19 contract.

Thank you to all of our members for making your voices heard this session! From participating in the Day of Action, to calling your legislators, to responding to our email action alerts, your actions made a difference!

We will continue to keep you informed about the decisions being made in Olympia and at the local level that impact your work and life.

State government shutdown looms as legislature remains deadlocked on the 2017-19 budget

Now well into the second special session, the WA legislature still has not come to a resolution on the state budget, which includes state employee contracts and public health, among many other funding priorities. If there is no resolution by June 30 - the end of the fiscal year - state government will shut down on July 1.

Back on March 24, the Senate majority voted to reject the 2017-19 contracts that labor unions, including Local 17, negotiated in good faith last year with the State. This group of Senators suggested that they would consider a one-time $500 payment to state employees, however it is illegal to dictate the terms of any renegotiation. If the legislature does indeed reject to fund the state contracts, unions will have to go back to renegotiate another agreement with the state, which will again need to be ratified by members before going back to the legislature for final approval.

Please continue to contact your legislators to urge them to pass a budget by June 30 that adequately funds public services and passes our negotiated state contracts! You can find your legislator here, or you can revisit our electronic action alert to send a message directly to all members of the Senate majority.

State contracts still pending approval in the legislature

The Commerce, Labor, and Sports Committee will hold a work session on Wed., May 17 from 2-3 p.m. to discuss state employee contracts. This will only be a discussion and will not determine the fate of the contracts.

While we are a few weeks into the first special session of the state legislature, approval of the state employee contracts is likely to be decided with the other budget items, including McCleary, public health, mental health, etc in the final budget agreement. If the legislature cannot come to an agreement on the budget by June 30, Washington state government will shut down on July 1. We will keep you updated on the latest as budget negotiations continue.

TAKE ACTION! Tell the Senate Majority that the House budget is better!

The State House Democratic Caucus just released its budget for the next two years, which closes loopholes and wasteful tax breaks in order to fund education, the state employee contracts, Public Health, and more.

The budget that the Senate majority released last week does not fund state employee contracts or Public Health, and does not provide the necessary funds for public safety programs at the local level. Instead, it maintains the status quo, protecting powerful special interests at the expense of our schools and our communities.

TAKE ACTION! Send an email to the Senate Majority using our pre-formated action alert telling them that they can do better. The WA Senate Republicans should find sources of revenue -- like ending the tax break on capital gains and closing loopholes on other wasteful tax breaks -- that fund ALL of the essential services that our state needs to function, just like the House Democratic Caucus did!

Senate hearings on state employee compensation and benefits turns partisan; Senate also opens door to anti-union bills

The 2017 legislative session is underway in Olympia and several hearings on Feb. 6 underscore the partisan feelings between both parties regarding funding of our state employee contracts, as well as many anti-union bills.

We encourage you to watch the two hearings on TVW: one in the Senate Ways & Means (budget) committee on state employee compensation and one in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports committee focused on anti-public employee union legislation.

In the hearing on state employee compensation and benefit plans, public testimony was not permitted. Though the agenda was set to have government officials provide presentations to brief the Senators on the specifics of the plans and the state employee contract, political partisan comments dominated the statements by the majority of senators during the proceedings, especially during the compensation discussion, beginning at about 1:14:00.

Labor representatives from public employee unions, including Adrienne Thompson from Local 17, testified against bills that have been proposed to open collective bargaining meetings to the public, and prohibit campaign contributions from labor unions, to name a few. On Wed., Feb. 8, there was a proposal to effectively make Washington a Right-to-Work state for public employees.

Members should voice concern to their legislators on these issues. We will continue to keep you updated as the issues proceed.

'Public Health is Essential' campaign launches!

For several years, Local 17 has been a key member of the Public Health Roundtable– a coalition of other unions, government agencies and community partners who promote the important work of our Public Health system. The Roundtable recently launched it's new campaign called 'Public Health is Essential' in an effort to raise awareness with our legislators and the general public about all of the vital services that Public Health provides, and the impact that reduced funding has had on these services over the last decade.

You can read more about the campaign at:

WA Legislative Session Begins

The 2017 Washington state legislative session began in Olympia on Jan. 9, and Local 17 has already begun to aggressively move on its legislative agenda to benefit public employees and the programs they deliver. Find a copy of our priorities HERE.

In this budget-setting session, the legislature will be prioritizing funding for court-ordered decisions on education (the McCleary case) and mental health services, before addressing the funding needs of all other state programs.

Some legislators are advocating for new revenue, while others are arguing that there should be cuts in other areas of government, and are targeting the $700 million for state employee contracts and the public health funding that have been included in the governor's budget proposal.

In addition to our four priorities this session, Local 17 staff will be combing through the thousands of other bills that are typically proposed during any session to assess their impact on members, and to develop a strategy to support or oppose the legislation.

Primary Endorsements Aug. 1, 2017

State Senate - District 37
Rebecca Saldana

State Senate - District 45
Manka Dhingra

State Senate - District 48
Patty Kuderer

King County Executive
Dow Constantine

King County Council - Pos. 1
Rod Dembowski

Seattle City Council - Pos. 8
Teresa Mosqueda

Seattle City Council - Pos. 9
Lorena Gonzalez

Seattle City Attorney
Pete Holmes

Auburn City Council
Larry Brown

Shoreline City Council
Susan Chang

2017 Legislative Priorities

Contact Your Legislator

Use the Washington legislature website to find and contact the legislator in your district.

Send a postcard to your representatives!

Contact, if you would like a stack of postcards highlighting Local 17's legislative priorities, like funding the state contract and Public Health. Send them back to us, and we will address, stamp and mail them to the legislator in your district!