With DOC negotiations now shifting to economics, the State needs to recognize the incredible service that correctional employees provide to protect the public. Right now, that isn’t happening. By the State’s own admission, we lag far behind our counterparts in other states.

We started negotiations last Thursday by showing clear evidence of that. Spencer Thal, our Union’s General Counsel, and Paul Marvy, our Research Director presented data on recruitment and retention problems at DOC. They walked through details from the State’s own wage survey that shows just how far DOC wages trail those of correctional workers in similar states.

After the presentation, we passed our initial economic proposal. Our proposal is necessarily aggressive. It calls for significant general wage rate increases for all job classifications as well as a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for both years of the contract.  

Our proposal also expands premium pay for all instructors and addresses compensation issues related to specialty team members, shift differentials, shift sergeants at stand-alone minimum facilities, and to members working in BFOQ positions at MCCCW and WCCW.

The State did not respond to our economic proposal, nor did they respond to most of the outstanding language issues. In fact, they seemed ill-prepared to discuss the two most important topics of recent bargaining: Their controversial sick leave proposal and our proposal for a Correctional Employee Bill of Rights.

This left members of our Union bargaining committee feeling frustrated. “Our committee is doing an excellent job putting our ideas forward, but I feel like they aren’t giving any serious consideration to anything we’re putting forth,” said Lynn Kunkle, an RN2 at MCC.

We will be back at the bargaining table with the State next week on July 19, 20, and 21 in Olympia. If needed, mediation is scheduled for August 2, and we have tentatively scheduled an interest arbitration hearing for August 29-Sept. 2.

If you have questions about bargaining, talk to your union bargaining committee members or your Business Representative. Thank you for your service – please stay safe.