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DOC interest arbitration hearing - closing arguments

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Former Local 117 ST Tracey Thompson Presents our Closing Argument to the Arbitrator

Last Friday was the final day of our interest arbitration hearing. We used the opportunity to emphasize our main argument in the case: Washington State corrections employees are dramatically underpaid as compared to their counterparts who work at the county-level and in other Western states. The arbitrator must issue an award that rectifies this injustice. 

Our Union’s former Secretary-Treasurer, Tracey Thompson, who we retained for the arbitration, presented our closing argument. Click here to watch a video of Tracey’s entire presentation.

Tracey laid out our proposal for an across-the-board wage increase for all members of the bargaining unit. We are calling for a 15 percent general wage increase in the first year of the contract plus a 3.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and a 15 percent increase in the second year of the contract plus a 3.5 percent COLA. These increases would bring Washington State correctional employees in line with the market average.

“You have the opportunity to do justice, to bring compensation equity to the men and women who work in the State of Washington’s 12 adult prisons,” Tracey told the arbitrator.

Our proposal also calls for several range adjustments to address recruitment and retention issues as well as a number of premium pay adjustments.

Tracey countered the State’s argument that our proposal is not financially feasible. She noted that the state’s economic position has significantly improved over the last two years. “The State does not and cannot deny that Washington’s economy is healthy by any measure,” she said.

In its closing, the State acknowledged the need to increase wages and claimed to value the hard work of its employees. At the same time, they defended their economic position of a three percent increase in both years of the contract. They argued that a larger pay raise would be excessive given the State’s financial obligations.

Now that the hearing has concluded, the arbitrator will consider the evidence presented by the Union and the State. We expect him to issue his award before the end of the month.

Thank you to the DOC members who testified at the hearing and to our Union bargaining committee who spent multiple days in negotiations prior to the hearing. Thanks also to our Union’s legal and research teams that worked tirelessly to prepare and present the case.

We will let you know as soon as we receive the arbitrator's decision. You can review an update from each day of our five-day interest arbitration hearing on our website here. To learn more about the interest arbitration process, click here.


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