Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Local News


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 8:29 PM

Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Wash. state workers OK furloughs under agreement

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and state workers announced an agreement Tuesday on health insurance increases and a 3 percent salary decrease that will come in the form of unpaid leave.

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. —

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and state workers announced an agreement Tuesday on health insurance increases and a 3 percent salary decrease that will come in the form of unpaid leave.

The health insurance increases will apply to all state workers, and the pay cut will apply to 90 percent of general government state employees, both union and nonunion.

"These unions and their members are sacrificing," Gregoire said. "They're willing to share in the sacrifice that all of us must undertake now to get through this fiscal crisis."

Glenn Kuper, a spokesman for the governor's budget office, said the health insurance increases were agreed to earlier this month but the pay cuts were decided Tuesday.

The agreement reached with the Service Employees International Union Local 1199, the Washington Federation of State Employees and the Teamsters needs to be ratified by the unions, and the Legislature must approve funding for the overall contract.

The unions represent 48,000 workers, but Gregoire said that nonunion employees would be affected as well.

State workers currently pay 12 percent of their health care premium costs, and the state pays the rest. Starting in Jan. 1, 2012, the state workers' portion of the cost would increase to 15 percent.

The health insurance change covers inflation, so the state will continue to pay its current share of $850 per month, per employee.

Gregoire said the unions "made it clear to me that health care was paramount to their members."

The furloughs will save the state $269 million over two years, of which $176 million will help address the state's two-year projected budget shortfall of nearly $5 billion.

Gregoire sent a letter Tuesday to the Washington Citizens Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials, asking that the salaries of all statewide elected officials be reduced "to reflect whatever level of reduction the Legislature applies to state employees."

Other statewide officials signed the letter as well, including Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna.

advertising

The furlough time will amount to about 5.2 hours a month per employee. Employees making $30,000 a year or less are exempt.

The Washington Federation of State Employees Director Greg Devereux said the main objective was to preserve health care for workers and to prevent permanent layoffs.

He said that the two-year 3-percent salary reduction was something "we were willing to accept."

The news comes a day before Gregoire is set formally announced her 2011-2013 budget. Earlier Tuesday, she announced proposals to consolidate state agencies and eliminate some boards and commissions as part of her effort to address the projected $4.6 billion deficit.

Gregoire said that while state workers will have to shoulder some of the burden, they can't do it all.

"We could lay off every state employee and every teacher, and we would not close the gap," she said. "We can't meet this challenge by pointing fingers or blaming."

---

Online:

http://www.governor.wa.gov

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

More Local News

UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case

NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview mill spills bleach into Columbia River

NEW - 8:00 AM
More extensive TSA searches in Sea-Tac Airport rattle some travelers

More Local News headlines...

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.

Video

Advertising

Marketplace

Advertising