The Washington State legislative session kicked off on Jan. 8, and runs through March 7. Despite the short session, we have several legislative goals that will help improve the work and lives of PROTEC17 members.
One of our highest priorities is supporting the state salary survey bill – SB 5694 – which would give the Office of Financial Management (OFM) the authority to use the state salary survey during contract negotiations.
In the past, OFM’s restrictive interpretation of state law has inhibited its ability to appropriately set wage rates for State employees. As a result, some state employee classifications, including many filed predominantly by women and people of color, are paid drastically below market standards. PROTEC17 has been working with allies in the State Legislature to revise RCW 41.06.152 which would explicitly encourage consideration of salary surveys, pay rates at similar employers, and other factors such as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals, that would empower the State to increase wages for critical workers.
Another high priority for PROTEC17 in the legislature would be to pass SB 6060 that would allow the use of digital signatures by public sector unions for the purpose of establishing union recognition. This is important to improving and streamlining the process for unionizing workers in the public sector who have previously had to rely on gathering physical signatures in their union organizing drives in order to be recognized by the Washington Public Employment Relations Commision (PERC).
Another issue we are following closely is the revision of the one percent cap on property taxes in Washington state – SB 5770. This is important because the money generated from property taxes is used to fund life saving services, such as public health and public safety, which directly impacts the jobs of PROTEC17 members.
Over the many years the cap has been in place, a structural deficit has been created in local government budgets that drastically limits their ability to fully fund critical services. PROTEC17 is advocating that this revision tie the property tax cap to inflation and population growth factors, with the new cap not exceeding three percent. This change would support local elected officials in better serving their communities by providing basic services like public health, police, fire response, and numerous other critical, and often life saving services. If the legislature does not act during the 2024 session, counties across the state will not be able to sustain these services to keep up with community needs, which leads to negative health outcomes, the degradation of infrastructure, thousands of layoffs, and numerous other adverse impacts for both PROTEC17 members and our communities.
Finally, we continue to focus on transportation funding and infrastructure to support the continued employment and working conditions of PROTEC17 members. We are urging the legislature to invest in a multimodal transportation infrastructure, utilize environmentally conscious building strategies, and take steps toward the electrification of transit fleets and other government vehicles.
If you have any questions about our 2024 political priorities or want to get involved this session, please reach out to PROTEC17 Political Director Brandon Hersey at g or visit protec17.org/poltical-action to learn more.