We still have no clear answers in our effort to achieve a Total Comp agreement for Union members at King County. Our Union Coalition has put forth a comprehensive economic counterproposal and offered a clear pathway forward on a Joint Labor Agreement.
Now the ball is in the County’s court. Whether the County responds by recognizing King County Union members for the outstanding service they provide to the public or the employer continues down their current unproductive path will likely be determined in what could be our final bargaining session on Friday, July 29.
Negotiations got off track several weeks ago after the County abruptly introduced the idea of a Joint Labor Proposal (JLA), then tried to impose it on us by tying it to their economic proposal.
We expressed concerns about the County’s concept for the JLA from the start because it compromised important individualized provisions in our collective bargaining agreements. We also insisted on more equitable wage increases and health and welfare protections that reflect the cost of living in the Seattle metropolitan area.
The County dug in and refused to engage in meaningful bargaining. Both their economic proposal and their insistence on an overreaching JLA were unacceptable to the Coalition.
In a last ditch effort to salvage an agreement, we requested an emergency meeting with the County Executive. That meeting took place on Tuesday, July 19 when your Secretary-Treasurer, John Scearcy, together with other Coalition leaders met with Executive Dow Constantine to convey our economic priorities as well as the need for protection against the erosion of language in our agreements.
We also proposed a path forward on the JLA. We told the County Executive that, for the Coalition to agree, language in the Joint Labor Agreement must not supersede any superior language in any of our individual agreements.
Based on conversations with the Executive, we were hopeful that the County would come back to the table on Wednesday with a willingness to reach an agreement that Union members could ratify.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. We did our part by presenting a comprehensive economic counterproposal and a clear pathway forward on the JLA. But the County showed essentially no movement, sticking to positions that have been unacceptable to the Coalition all along.
"Yesterday was disappointing because of the County’s lack of preparation and understanding of the meeting held with Dow the day before resulting in our inability to make any headway."
-DEBRA VALLE, Prosecuting Attorney Office
At that point, the Total Comp bargaining process was on the verge of breaking down altogether. Our Coalition felt that, if the County was unwilling to engage in meaningful bargaining, both economics and language issues would be best dealt with in small table negotiations.
When we communicated our position, the County agreed to take another look at our proposal and to give us a response in a negotiations session planned for July 29. We are still hopeful that the County will work with us to achieve an agreement that recognizes the important services you provide to the public.
"Negotiations have come along slowly, however labor has been unified in fighting to retain hard fought language and remained focused on what matters for members."
- BOBBY STALNAKER, Security Screener, King County Sheriff’s Office
We will provide another update after the session on July 29.
If you have questions, please contact your bargaining committee member or your Business Representative, Suzette Dickerson, at 206-441-4860 ext. 1232.
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