Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer Tracey A. Thompson has published a letter to the editors of the Seattle Times that responds to an April 29 editorial in the newspaper calling for more cuts to state employees.
The letter can be viewed on the Seattle Times website and is published in its entirety here.
The editorial “State employee contracts must reflect reset economy,” [Opinion, April 29] completely misrepresents the reality of state employee compensation.
The compensation starting point for most state employees is significantly lower than for their private-sector counterparts. Some state employees earn as much as 40 percent less than those performing comparable work in the private sector.
In six out of the past 10 years, state employees have either received no general wage increase or have had their wages reduced through legislatively imposed furloughs and across-the board reductions. Over this same 10-year period, the cost of living has increased by an annual average of more than 2.4 percent.
Many state employees already earn poverty wages and are eligible for food stamps and state-subsidized health care. Further eroding state employee compensation will only expedite the exodus of qualified, skilled workers from state employment, which in turn will result in reduced revenues.
Rather than undermining state employee collective-bargaining rights, the Legislature should do some hard bargaining to close tax loopholes that cost the state billions of dollars in revenue. Or maybe a total overhaul of our tax system. That hasn’t been done since the Great Depression.
— Tracey A. Thompson, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 117’s, Tukwila