OLYMPIA—In Olympia Republican State Senators and one Democrat are targeting our state's public employees' union.
Senate Bill 5870 would reject contracts negotiated by the Governor late last year.
It is uncharted territory. The Legislature has never sought to negate union contracts negotiated by the Governor, but this is different from the battle in Wisconsin.
Senate Bill 5870 seeks more concessions from the unions but it does not seek to strip the unions of collective bargaining rights.
Still union members say they've already made sacrifices.
Republicans say the contracts Governor Gregoire negotiated simply didn't go far enough in seeking concessions from state employee unions and at a time when the state budget deficit is in excess of four billion dollars, more concessions would be the lesser of two evils.
Senator Dan Swecker supports the legislation. He says, “I'm afraid that unless we're able to successfully reduce our costs that we're going to see a lot of folks get laid off and that would be the last thing I would want to have happen."
Tim Welch with the Washington Federation of State Employees said, "They're trying to renegotiate contracts that have pay cuts and higher healthcare costs for our members. I don't know what more our members can sacrifice. It's disturbing that a contract that saves the state $330 million dollars isn't good enough."
This battle could be over before it really gets started.
Democratic Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ed Murray says he opposes the measure and has no intention of allowing the bill to be heard, effectively making the bill dead on arrival.