Bill to reject WA contracts has no Wis. connection, says senator



Posted on March 10, 2011 at 7:48 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 10 at 7:48 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A state senator who wants to reject the collective bargaining agreement for state employees says the bill has nothing to do with anti-union efforts in Wisconsin.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin state senators voted to limit the collective bargaining power of state employees.

The same day, Washington state Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Clark County, filed a bill to reject the 2011-2013 contract with state workers recently negotiated by Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire.

"It has nothing to do with the right to collective bargaining. This has nothing to do with union-bashing," Zarelli said.

In the contract, state workers agreed to take a three percent pay cut and will have to pay 25 percent more for their health insurance coverage. Zarelli said those cuts are not deep enough and he has issue with the fact they are temporary.

"There's nothing permanent about it that helps us solve our problem," Zarelli said.

State lawmakers are working on a budget facing a nearly $5 billion deficit.

"If a bill like this went through, I think you would see what we have seen in Wisconsin here in Washington," Sue Henricksen, Vice President for the Washington Federation of State Employees said.

Henricksen called the timing of the bill, "very disturbing." She said Wisconsin lawmakers have prompted a growing national movement.

"It's an attack on the middle class," said Henricksen, "It's not just an attack on the unions."