Unions agree to give up cost-of-living increases for county employees

August 16, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 3:30 p.m. Aug. 16, 2010

Unions representing about 500 county employees agreed to forgo cost-of-living increases for next year, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Monday.

Constantine and Washington State Council of County and City Employees President Chris Dugovich said the county and the union had reached a tentative agreement Monday morning. The union represents almost 500 District Court clerks, hazardous-waste workers, custodians and juvenile detention supervisors, among other employees.

“Our interest is in saving services for the public and preserving jobs for our members,” Dugovich said in a statement. “When a job goes away it is not likely to come back anytime soon. That hurts not only our members but the residents who depend upon the public services our members provide.”

The union representing the 12 jail captains agreed to waive cost-of-living increases for next year as well, Constantine announced Monday afternoon.

“We reached out to our employees to be part of the solution in our effort to maintain services to the public despite the loss of revenues, and the Washington State Council of County and City Employees is the first to step up to partner with us,” Constantine said in a statement. “I appreciate the talks we’ve had and their willingness to face our financial realities together.”

Constantine and other leaders must tackle a $60 million budget deficit next year, and the gap could force deep cuts to spending.

Union members must approve the proposed pact. Ballots must be returned by late August. The measure is due to take effect Jan. 1 if members support the proposal.

The jail captains represented by the Uniformed Command Association voted to forgo their cost-of-living increases. The provision takes effect Jan. 1.

The union represents 12 jail corrections captains — shift commanders for round-the-clock operations at the King County Jail and the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, plus commanding the internal investigations unit and other units in the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention.

“This is one way that our members can be part of the solution and help with the budgetary crisis within King County,” Capt. Michael Woodbury, Uniformed Command Association president, said in a statement. “Helping the county return to financial stability means job stability for our members and service stability for the public.”

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