At the previous meeting the County indicated a willingness to extend the existing COLA language for one year while continuing to work on other issues. Prior to today’s meeting with the County, the Coalition caucused to agree on a response to the County, for today’s meeting. During the caucus, strategies for current circumstances were discussed along with the desire for the County to not include the unrepresented in their costing data and analyses.

The meeting with the County began with the Coalition giving a presentation on three principles that are important to the Coalition.

Cost of living adjustments should:

  • Maintain consumer purchasing power in the face of inflation.
  • Provide predictability for both the employer and the employee.
  • Be based on sound economic data which reflects the volatility of the employer’s revenues.

A graph was then displayed that showed the effects of the Coalition’s COLA sacrifices to the County from 2010 – 2014. Those sacrifices translate into an employee who is earning $50K per year in 2014 is earning $2K less than if those concessions hadn’t been made and adds up to $7K cumulative over that five year time span. A graph was also shown that displayed the County’s revenue growth outpacing employee COLA growth from 2003 – 2012.

The Coalition then made a proposal to the County for a three year agreement that provided for a flat 2% COLA for 2015 and then the current COLA formula for 2016 and 2017 in conjunction with the current economic reopener language. It also included reopener language for bargaining of other total compensation elements in 2015. The discussion included the reiteration of the sacrifices that labor has made the past few years and how it was addressed unsolicited in Executive Dow Constantine’s words of appreciation to Metro Transit staff at their annual meeting the day before. In response to that, the County negotiating team did state that there should be a benefit realized for bargaining in a Coalition representing over 6,000 employees. The County then caucused.

When the County returned they stated that they are now okay with calling any cost of living increases a COLA. Up until now, they were desirous of calling it a wage increase. The discussion then went to thoughts of a three year agreement with flat COLAs of 2-2-2 with a reopener trigger if revenue increases exceeded expectations. There was much brainstorming and various ideas discussed. The next meeting will be March 26. 

Matthew House

About Matthew House

Representing: UWPD, POS, Gig Harbor PD, Redmond PD, City of Pacific, Town of Steilacoom, Brier, Issaquah PD, Federal Way PD, SCORE