Afternoon Jolt: Public Employees

By Afternoon Jolt December 14, 2010

The losers of the year are public employees.

One day after  downsizing public employee pensions, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced late today that state employees have tentatively agreed to a three-percent pay cut. (Not a reduction in raises, or a salary freeze---a cut.)

Gregoire, who also sent a leter to the state salary commission today requesting that her own salary be cut by three percent, says the agreement, which covers 90 percent of state employees (not state troopers, though), will save $269 million in the next biennium when the state faces about a $5 billion shortfall.

In a statement this afternoon, Gregoire said:

That amount of savings would pay for child protective services and foster care for our abused and neglected children. Or it would pay for our entire learning assistance program that helps our struggling students across the state succeed in school. State employees have stepped up to share in the sacrifice to get all of us through our fiscal crisis. They have done what thousands of families across Washington have done – they’ve made sacrifices, focused on their highest priorities and aimed for long-term prosperity.

Three unions—the Washington Federation of State Employees, the Teamsters, and the Service Employees International Union 1199—were involved in the negotiations.

The three-percent cut casts a couple of other local "coups" for government officials in stark relief: An agreement by unionized city employees to accept a raise of "only" 0.6 percent (the rate of inflation) next year, and an agreement by unionized King County Sheriff's Department deputies to reduce their 5 percent raise to "just" 3 percent next year. Which, we guess, makes Gregoire today's winner.
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