After several months of bargaining, our Union Coalition’s negotiations with King County have become more polarized.
Despite improved economic conditions, the County seems determined to offer less than it offered in the last round of coalition negotiations, suggesting annual cost of living adjustments of only 1.61% per year instead of the 2% and 2.25% increases in the last two years, AND a reduced annual contribution towards health and welfare benefits of only 2% each year instead of the 4% annual increase offered in the last bargain.
“I don’t see that the County is willing to move on any of the goals that labor has put forward.”
DAN FERNANDEZ Prosecuting Attorney Office
The Union Coalition is sending a strong message that this simply will not ratify given the economic growth and increased cost of living in the Seattle metropolitan area.
On Wednesday, July 5, the County presented us with a formal counterproposal on all economic issues including wages and health and welfare benefits. However, the County’s proposal did not involve any meaningful movement and was largely a reiteration of its prior offers.
The County also rejected our proposal to universalize and improve the above top step pay systems. As you might expect, the Coalition’s negotiation team was disappointed and frustrated by the County’s failure to respond to our economics priorities.
“It’s extremely disappointing. I don’t think the County is coming to the table to actually bargain. It seems to be: Here’s the plate. You can either eat from it, or too bad you can just walk away.”
CHERYL ANN GUNDERSON, IT Manager
The Union coalition responded in kind. In the caucus that followed, we built a counterproposal, which we presented to the County at the end of the day.
Our proposal was largely a reiteration of our prior economic positions. Our priorities continue to include improved across-the-board wage increases in each year of the contract, medical benefit contributions that avoid employee premium share, a separate wage table for coalition members, and improved opportunities for career advancement.
The County is not insisting that the Coalition accept the Joint Labor Agreement, but is offering improved economic structures if it is accepted by the Coalition, or if some language issues can be resolved on a coalition-wide basis.
With very little movement on both sides, we appear to be heading toward a stalemate on economic issues.
To increase the possibility of finding a path to resolution, we agreed to add a bargaining session for next Thursday, July 14. Negotiations are now planned for July 14 and July 20. We are still hopeful that the County will adjust their economic proposal to honor the important services that you provide to the residents of King County.
If we are able to come to an agreement by the end of July, we can present an offer to you for a ratification vote later this summer. In any event, we are likely to hold update meetings soon.
If you have questions, please contact your bargaining committee member or your Business Representative, Suzette Dickerson, at 206-441-4860 ext. 1232.