Washington State Government Workers Get Record Raises

Published October 1, 2007

The current collective bargaining agreements between Washington state and its employee unions give state employees the largest raises some have ever seen. The minimum increase union-represented employees will receive is 12.1 percent, and some will receive raises of 43.6 percent.

In all, increases in salaries and benefits for 111,000 state workers will cost nearly $2.1 billion in state, federal, and other funds over the next two years.

Unions will get their cut, and union officials likely will put some of this into campaign contributions for policymakers supportive of union-favorable laws and generous concessions at the bargaining table.

Thriving on Secrecy

Many states allow public employees to negotiate collectively for their employment contracts. Although these negotiations significantly affect state and local budgets, they are often hidden from the public.

A report released in July by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation examines which states allow taxpayer-voter access to public-sector collective bargaining.

Eleven states allow the public some form of access to public-sector collective bargaining sessions. They range in openness from allowing complete access to merely providing summarized minutes.

The remaining states restrict access to public-sector collective bargaining sessions. Several even restrict public access to “strategy sessions” held by the government’s negotiating team.

Ryan Bedford ([email protected]) is a labor analyst with the Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Olympia, Washington.

For more information …

To find out your state’s policy on transparency of negotiations of public contracts: http://www.effwa.org/main/article.php?article_id=2113&number=56