PROTEC17 state members have voted to accept the Tentative Agreement (TA) with the State of Washington for the 2021-2023 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The ballot closed and was counted on Oct. 1 in time to be included in the Governor’s proposed budget for the next biennium.
Thank you to everyone who voted — your participation is the cornerstone of union membership and union democracy.
You can find a list of the changes to the 2021-23 contract in this summary document and we also have the full red-line version of the agreement for your perusal. The finalized contract will be available in the coming months once state legislators approve the budget and the governor signs the final document.
It goes without saying that this wasn’t the ideal economy in which to negotiate a contract. With the COVID-19 pandemic and a resulting multi-billion dollar budget shortfall looming large, we reached out to our membership this past spring to gauge your priorities. We heard you loud and clear and we delivered. The cost share for your healthcare benefits will remain at 85/15 for the 2021-23 biennium. In this uncertain time, we can all rest a little easier knowing we can get the healthcare we need.
Next, we worked hard to come to an agreement on other economic and non-economic items. Instead of proposing a full rollover of the contract, we took the opportunity to make some positive changes to contract language, which are outlined in this summary document. We also have the full red-line version of the agreement for your review.
Because you have a union, you received your 3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in July 2020. And through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached with the State, PROTEC17 members were able to participate in the WorkShare program, which, in conjunction with a funding boost from the CARES ACT passed by Congress, put an extra $600 in your pockets for four weeks in exchange for weekly furloughs. Lastly, we were able to stave off the State’s proposal to freeze Periodic Increment Dates for the life of the 2021-23 contract.
But as State employees we knew sacrifices would be needed to reconcile the State’s budget through the next biennium. As a result, State employees will be receiving no COLAs for the 2021-23 biennium. Furthermore, we agreed to take a furlough day one day per month through the biennium, with an opportunity to negotiate a reduction in – or elimination of – those furloughs prior to implementation in July of 2021 by request of either party. Rest assured that we will be making that request.
Despite these temporary cuts, it’s more important than ever to be a union member. Many non-represented employees did not receive their COLA in July 2020. Because you have a union, we were able to negotiate the economic impacts of this pandemic on our terms. Employees who don’t have a union don’t have a voice in how their employers handle economically uncertain situations, and are at the whim of their employers and their unilateral decision making, for better or worse.
Recognizing the need for tremendous budget savings, we tried to be creative by proposing contract changes that would boost morale but cost the state little or nothing. The state, unfortunately, was unreceptive to our innovative proposals. Measures such as casual attire for Washington State Patrol (WSP) Communication Officers (COs) and Saturday furloughs for Licensing Service Representatives (LSRs) so they could get a three-day weekend were rejected with seemingly little consideration. But, we humbly present this contract to you, our fellow members, without a recommendation but with assurance that we got the best contract possible in a time of unprecedented uncertainty.
In January, we will be in Olympia lobbying our legislators for more progressive tax measures to help mitigate budget impacts and boost our economy; Washington State has the most regressive tax structure in the country, meaning those who make the least pay the largest percentage of their income in taxes. But we have the power to change that, and we intend to do just that next session – and those changes could help fuel new revenue to mitigate furloughs. Who is in Olympia matters – don’t forget to vote this November!
Please reach out to any member of your negotiating team if you have any questions.