Unions representing approximately 6,000 King County employees have agreed to a zero percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) next year as a result of labor negotiations guided by King County Executive Dow Constantine and representatives from the King County Coalition of Unions. If approved by union members, the tentative agreement could mean about $8 million in salary savings countywide.
Unions representing approximately 4,700 King County employees have tentatively agreed to a zero percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) next year as a result of labor negotiations guided by King County Executive Dow Constantine and representatives from the King County Coalition of Unions. If approved by union members, the tentative agreement could mean about $6.5 million in savings countywide and about $950,000 in General Fund savings.
“I sincerely appreciate the hard work and trust from labor leaders and our negotiators that has gone into crafting this tentative agreement,” said Executive Constantine. “It shows the strong commitment of our represented employees to helping King County preserve and deliver critical services to our residents.”
“We see this as a contract with the residents of King County to do our part to deal with the expense side of the budget,” said Coalition Co-Chair Dustin Frederick. “We have always been willing to step up to help, but there is a process, and working within that process, we were able to reach this agreement.”
“Our members were receptive to bringing this money back to preserve services, while preserving their worth in the county,” said Co-Chair and IFPTE Local 17 Representative Behnaz Nelson. “We’ll put it to a vote of our members with a recommendation for ratification.”
The represented employees are in the Public Safety Employees Union, OPEIU-8, Joint Crafts, Local 767 Printing and Graphics, SEIU Local 925, IFPTE Local 17, and Teamsters 117. They provide a wide range of County services, including those who treat the county’s mentally ill, maintain roads, clean up parks, provide jail health services, support transit, provide safe drinking water, provide emergency dental care, and work to clean up and protect the environment and keep communities safe.
Jobs also include support staff in the Sheriff’s Office, security screeners at the jails and civilian security screeners at the courthouse, Transit chiefs, IT professional managers and staff, dental assistants and support staff in Public Health Clinics, Records, Licensing and Elections workers, court reporters, and many other professional workers who work behind the scenes to help deliver county services.
They join 750 others from 16 bargaining units and a wide cross-section of county departments who have already tentatively agreed or voted to waive their COLA for next year to preserve services. Those include the Animal Control Officers Guild, deputy prosecutors, jail captains; marine engineers, captains, and deckhands property appraisers in the Assessor’s office, and a cross-section of employees covered by the Washington State Council of County and City Employees.
Of King County's 13,500 employees, about 10,000 are represented by organized labor. With today’s breakthrough, a total of nearly 5,450 represented employees – or nearly 55 percent of all of the County’s unionized workers – have tentatively agreed or have voted to waive COLA for next year.
“This is a strong statement of the public spirit among our employees,” said Executive Constantine. “Many came to County employment because they want to serve the public. We together have found a way to preserve some of those services. I appreciate their partnership.
“I especially want to thank my Director of Labor Relations, Patti Cole-Tindall, and her chief negotiators, for their skillful work to reach agreements that are fair to taxpayers and fair to our employees,” said Executive Constantine.
Executive Constantine has frozen salaries for staff in his office and all appointed staff and has been joined by many separately elected officials in putting the same measures in place for their offices.
Today’s tentative agreement must still be ratified by the membership of each bargaining unit represented by the King County Coalition of Unions. The timing and logistics of voting will vary by union but is estimated to take four to six weeks.