Our Coalition bargaining team met with King County for a frustrating negotiations session on Wednesday, June 8. In this session, the County appeared unwilling to meet our team halfway on issues that are critical to the union coalition.
The day started with the County stating its opposition to our proposal for a longevity or merit-based pay structure that would reward union members who have dedicated many years of service to the County. This came as a disappointment to our union committee given that establishing a system for longevity pay was one of our priorities going into bargaining.
We were more hopeful when the County indicated that it was interested in creating a premium for members whose unions have participated in coalition bargaining. We took that idea into caucus and discussed the possible makeup of the premium through the creation of a new coalition pay table that would surpass the general squared pay table.
When we returned from our caucus, the County gave an inconsistent presentation on its proposal for a Joint Labor Agreement (JLA) that would erode if not undermine decades of positive provisions in mature contracts in the name of consistency.
If you recall, the JLA is the County’s attempt to standardize language in our union contracts. While our Coalition is not completely resistant to the idea, we are committed to preserving unique elements of our contracts that have developed over the years through the collective bargaining process.
Unfortunately, the County indicated that it is disinclined to honor the diversity of our agreements or preserve best practices. The County also did not seem to have clarity as to how the JLA would be integrated into the existing collective bargaining agreements.
We realized with its presentation that the County appears unwilling to partner on a coherent Joint Labor Agreement that would provide both thoughtful standards and meaningful protections for the diverse provisions in our agreements. This brought our Union team back to the initial position we took after the County first introduced the idea of the JLA, which was to reject it outright and scuttle any further work on the project at this time.
We are hopeful that the County will rethink its position on the JLA and engage in meaningful bargaining moving forward. Despite the negative proposals from the County, we remain steadfast in our priorities for an across-the-board wage increase in each year of the contract, contributions for medical benefits that avoid any employee premium share, a separate wage table for coalition members, and improvements to career advancement.
Our next session is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22. If you have questions, please contact your bargaining committee member or your Business Representative, Suzette Dickerson, at 206-441-4860 ext. 1232.
Thank you for your service to the residents of King County and for your membership to Teamsters Local 117.