Over 400 PROTEC17 members signed a petition to save the jobs of King County Information Technology members Daniel Co and Ernesto Pobre Jr.. As term-limited temporary (TLT) employees, they were both suddenly informed that their contracts would be cut short despite their satisfactory performance. Shortly thereafter, King County re-posted their jobs, again as TLT positions.
In September, PROTEC17 circulated a petition garnering support for both members. In early October, Co and Pobre, along with King County Stewards and PROTEC17 staff, met with members of the King County Council to discuss the results of the petition. At this meeting, members also shared their experience surrounding the abuse of TLT positions in lieu of creating permanent, career service positions that provide members with steady, stable employment and the ability to find career growth at the County.
PROTEC17 Union Representative Denise Cobden also met with Megan Pederson, Director of Labor Relations at King County, as well as Tanya Hannah, the Chief Information Officer of KCIT, to discuss the issue.
“King County has regulations and code set up to ensure that TLT workers are treated with dignity and respect and that temporary work programs are not abused,” said Cobden.
“But over the years, we have seen an increase in TLT positions and for longer periods of time,” she continued. “This member-led action highlighted some of the current issues with temporary employees so that now PROTEC17 and the King County Coalition of Unions can discuss these important issues with King County to ensure there are pathways to permanent employment and that permanent or long-term bodies of work are properly classified.”
As a direct result of the collective action of PROTEC17 members, as well as Council support, Co was given an extension to his TLT position. Also, two career service positions were created at KCIT, which both Co and Pobre are eligible to apply for.
“Getting the opportunity to sit down with the Councilmembers was an amazing experience,” said Co. “They were very understanding and supportive of my situation and I finally felt like I was being heard as a King County employee and PROTEC17 member.”
The County has expressed an interest in taking a closer look at how TLT positions are being used and how to address abuse of the positions. The King County Coalition of Unions through the Labor Policy Committee, the King County Council and the King County Executive’s Office will be working on this more in the months to come.