This post covers the new contract agreement for State employees.
Back in December, our State Bargaining Team conducted surveys and went on the road to hear SEIU members’ top priorities for our next contract. Two priorities emerged loud and clear: win higher wages and defend benefits. On July 11, the bargaining team settled a contract with the State that does just that. This contract was subsequently ratified by 95% of voting members. Below you’ll find the highlights of the new agreement.
✓ Survey members to identify key issues
✓ Campaign to pressure management
✓ Win a “salary pot” through the Legislature’s budget process
✓ Settle a “Tentative Agreement”
✓ Ratify by a vote of all dues paying members (you must be a member to vote)
✓ Get our raises and member benefits
Membership Is Key
In order to vote on your contract or get access to member benefits, you must be a member of SEIU 503. You can sign up online at any time, call us at 1-844-503-SEIU (7348), or speak to a union steward in your worksite.
State employees will see up to a 15% raise over the next two years as a result of cost of living adjustments (COLAs) and steps. Those who are at the top steps of their salary range will see, on average, a 10% raise over the same period. It represents the largest step forward in public employee wages in a decade. Here are the pieces:
- A 2.15% COLA effective immediately and paid in August and a 3% COLA in October of 2020. 3% is the largest COLA in 10 years.
- A step in each year of the contract, which is on average a 4.79% raise.
- A new top step for people who are topped out, which also provides more room for everyone to grow within their salary scale. We haven’t won a new top step in over a decade.
Union Difference: Management’s initial proposal was a four year contract with a 1.68% raise in 2019, a 1% raise in 2020 and no guaranteed raises in 2021 or 2022. The SEIU bargaining team pressured management to put a better deal on the table, and because most State employees choose to be members of our union, we bargained from a position of strength and won.
We bargained to keep your healthcare costs flat, which is a huge win. Our premium share (the amount that comes out of your check each month to pay for the healthcare plan) is $367.80 less than what the average American pays. That’s an extra $4,400 in take home pay, every year. Considering that the cost of healthcare goes up by 7% every year, keeping that benefit in place is a major victory.
We also took a loss on PERS during the Legislative Session, when legislators passed a bill that will result in a 1.5% to 3% loss in the total value of our retirement package. Our union plans to sue to block this cut and we will be working to renegotiate the PERS benefit structure in future legislative sessions and at the bargaining table. We also secured language in our contract that protects our right to demand to bargain if we don’t prevail in the lawsuit.
Despite a set back on PERS, we won two big victories, protecting double coverage from the chopping block and winning 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, which will go into effect in 2023.
Over the next year every state agency will work with local union leadership to develop an internal complaint process specifically for workers experiencing bullying at work. We have been talking about this issue at bargaining for many years so it’s really exciting to report this progress!
Upon ratification, we will have the right to “cash out” up to 40 hours of vacation once per year so long as their vacation leave balance is at least 60 hours after the cash out.
We won the right for workers who have access to inclement weather leave to be able to utilize that leave for late openings, not just full office closures.
Even More Highlights
- Improvement to on-call pay
- More protections for limited duration workers
- Better notification to workers when their information is requested through public information requests
- Improvements to the telecommuting process
- Training for all workers on their PEBB and PERS benefits within 2 weeks of hire by the end of the contract
- Contract Specialist program: Management will fund one position per 2000 workers in a coalition to help union stewards enforce our contract, set up labor/management committees to resolve worksite issues, and participate in new employee orientations to share the value of union membership
Still Fighting for Child Welfare Workers
One of the last issues we settled during bargaining was an agreement to continue bargaining with management over the impacts the child welfare crisis in this state has on our members that work in that department. We could not reach an agreement with management on the proposals we had on the table, but we’ve agreed to an expedited, 8-week bargaining process to explore using vacancy savings in the agency for retention efforts, things like pay increases, tuition assistance, and access to mental health resources when workers experience trauma. We’ll be calling on all state workers to support this effort over the next two months, so stay tuned to see how you can help.