Earlier this month, our union negotiations committee passed a thoughtful economic proposal to the State as we continue the process of bargaining over your 2019-2021 contract.
Our proposal was backed by comparable data from other jurisdictions and took into account the unique and critical nature of your work and the important public service you provide in keeping our communities safe. It took into consideration the recruitment and retention problems at the Department and contemplated the amount of overtime that is frequently required and is extreme by any measure.
"I am not willing to back down. Our people need to survive, and I’ll fight for them."
In last week’s negotiations, the State came back with a response that was extremely disrespectful. Kathe Jackson, a nurse at the Washington State Penitentiary and a member of our union committee expressed her frustration. “We work every day. We place ourselves at risk of injury and death just to feed our families. For the State not to acknowledge that is offensive.”
When asked questions about how they put their proposal together, the State’s response was: “This is what we can afford.” They did not give any consideration into the dangerous work you perform or the critical services you provide. The State did not acknowledge how employees at Washington’s correctional facilities are underpaid as compared to other people doing the same type of work in similar jurisdictions.
To say that the bargaining committee was frustrated is a huge understatement. “I am not willing to back down,” said Jackson. “Our people need to survive, and I’ll fight for them.”
This week we are in mediation, and I hope to have a better report for you at the end of it. Please stay tuned and watch for the email updates. We promise to keep you apprised of what’s going on with your contract.
Thank you and as always, stay safe.
President and Director of Corrections & Law Enforcement
Lead negotiator for DOC Collective Bargaining Agreement