June 13, 2018
Today, the Snohomish County Council, with the support of Executive Dave Somers, voted to implement the terms of its last, best and final contract offer to its Corrections Support bargaining unit, a group of approximately 95 employees working in non-uniformed support positions in the county’s jail. The decision to implement these terms comes after a long process of collective bargaining with the union, spanning almost four years, that has resulted in what the county believes is an impasse. Implementation of such terms after reaching the point of impasse is unusual, but the county believes it is fully authorized by the Public Employees’ Collective Bargaining Act and the interpretive decisions of the Public Employment Relations Commission.
As a result of the Council’s action, in July employees in the bargaining unit will receive both ongoing and retroactive Cost-of-Living-Adjustments (COLAs) dating back to January 2015 and a match on their deferred compensation contributions. The employees in this unit have been working without a contract since January 2015. Today’s action will also make employees subject to new requirements with regard to medical insurance cost-sharing. Similar terms have already been agreed to by most of the county’s other union-represented employees.
Importantly, however, the county’s decision to implement these terms upon impasse does not mean it has no further obligation to bargain over a new contract. In fact, the county will honor its ongoing obligation to continue bargaining over an agreement that will cover the time period of 2015-2018.
The county made the decision to implement upon impasse for a few reasons. First, maintaining the status quo on wages, which have been frozen at 2014 rates while bargaining was ongoing, was beginning to affect its ability to recruit new employees. Additionally, the county does not believe it is fair that bargaining unit employees should have to keep waiting for COLA-based raises while the parties work through the complicated process of resolving impasse. The county does not see any good reason to keep employees waiting to receive raises it would otherwise be willing to provide, as indicated in its last, best and final contract offer.
As a result of implementation, bargaining unit employees will receive COLAs in the amounts of 2% for 2015, 2% for 2016, 2.5% for 2017, and 2% for 2018, as well as a 1% match of deferred compensation contributions. Full-time workers in the unit will receive a one-time lump-sum payment estimated at between $7,000 and $12,000 (pre-tax and withholding) that will cover retroactive pay increases over this time period.
Implementation of our proposal with respect to employee contributions toward medical coverage will mean some members of the bargaining unit will pay more and some less. The changes to medical will put these employees on par with over 80% of county employees, both union and unrepresented. With this medical cost-sharing mechanism in place, employees on average will pay $6.23 less per month than they pay now. Under certain coverage choices, some would pay as much as $28 more per month; while under other choices, some would pay $38 less per month. No one would pay more or less than that range. Under our proposal, the average employee contribution for their health plan would be $67 per month.
Even after today’s action, we will continue to negotiate in good faith and are optimistic that an agreement will be reached. The county values its employees and will continue to work diligently toward amicable resolution of all outstanding issues.
For any questions, please contact Kent Patton 425-388-3883.