Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When is collective bargaining NOT collective bargaining?

Evidently, collective bargaining doesn't mean bargaining-in-good-faith when done in the State of Washington.

The state employee's union bargained and won collective bargaining rights in 2002. In 2008 current Governor Christine Gregoire negotiated with the State Employee Union for contracts containing the following provisions:

*State employees recently agreed to 2% wage increases.

*SEIU and the governior's office agreed to pay hikes of 25-cents an hour in 2009 and 22-cents an hour in 2010 for 23,000 workers who care for seniors and people with disabilities.

Following those negotiations, the Revenue Forcasts have gone in the tank. Even though both sides agreed to the negotiations, the proposed contract would have to be put to the Washington State Legislature to approve or deny without the opportunity to amend according to Washington State Law.

The Governor took those negotiated raises out of the budget she intends to send to the legislature rather than fund the raises to which she previously committed.

Both the State Employees and SEIU have filed suit.

It would seem to put a real damper on negotiations if, after agreement, the Executive Branch could ignore their previous agreement because the budget got tight.

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