500 County Workers May Take No Pay Increase Next Year

By Erica C. Barnett August 16, 2010

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a tentative agreement this morning under which nearly 500 county workers represented by the Washington State Council of City and County Employees would forgo an automatic cost-of-living pay increase next year. The employees that would be affected include district court clerks, juvenile court detectives, medical examiners, and custodians, among other positions. The union will vote on its contract later this month.

Earlier this year, Constantine froze the salaries of about 155 county employees under his direct control.The WSCCE, Constantine said, is "the first [union] to join us in facing the current financial realities together." Eliminating next year's COLA---ordinarily a minimum wage increase of two percent---will save an estimated $500,000 to $600,000, Constantine said.

"We're not going to be ones to deny the fact that revenues are down," WSCCE Council 2 president Chris Dugovich said. "For us, this is all about saving jobs."

Although the potential savings from the COLA freeze aren't much in light of a $60 million projected 2011 shortfall, Constantine said he hopes to announce similar agreements with other unions soon, possibly even today or tomorrow.

Asked whether the unions he's asking to take COLA freezes include the 4,000-person Metro union---a union that has historically been reluctant to make concessions during labor negotiations—Constantine said "everything," including COLAs, was on the table. The Metro union's contract is up for renegotiation this year.
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