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State Budget Update - Stalemate in Olympia

Budget negotiations continue to drag on in Olympia with no end in sight. Special session began on May 13 and is slated to end on June 13, and it is likely that a compromise on the operating, capital, and transportation budgets will not have been reached by that time.

Legislators have their eyes on a revenue forecast that is slated to be released on June 17. If Olympia waits until June 17 to move on the budget, the Governor will have to call a second special session, which could push negotiations well into July.

A delay on the budget would mean that Local 117's contract with the DOC may not be fully executed until after expiration on June 30. The State would be required to maintain the status quo with respect to all contract provisions, and all wage increases would be retroactive.  Any delay would have no impact on the 3% snapback provision, which will take effect July 1.

A more serious consequence for Teamsters at DOC is that negotiators in the Senate and House may be considering anti-worker policy bills that could be traded in exchange for a compromise budget. There are several bills that could surface, including attacks on our collective bargaining rights, retirement security, and health care.

One of the bills that we are tracking is SB5851, a bill that would create a defined contribution plan (401k) that could ultimately supplant members’ pension plans and put our retirement security at risk. If these bills are introduced, we will be calling on Teamsters at the DOC to contact their legislators immediately.

As mentioned earlier, both the House and Senate budgets proposals include modest funding increases for “safety improvements” at the DOC.

The Senate appropriates approximately $3.5 million for upgraded radio infrastructure and an additional 25.5 FTEs (new positions for medium security day shift and minimum security graveyard), while the House appropriates $2.8 million for the radio improvements and an additional 18 FTEs (for medium security days only).

We are working to see that the Senate funding with respect to safety is included in the final budget.

For ongoing updates on budget negotiations, please visit your Local Union’s website at www.teamsters117.org or www.leg.wa.gov.

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