Legislative Updates: Furloughs, Pensions, Telework & More

The 2021 Washington State legislative session is here. Lawmakers are currently making decisions that will impact your jobs, families and communities. Stay up-to-speed, and register to meet your legislators online here.

Contact your lawmakers by phone: Text SAVEJOBS to 237263.

3/26:

Thanks to WFSE, WA State Senate Budget Eliminates General Government Furloughs

Thanks to the lobbying efforts of WFSE members and staff, the Washington State Senate released a $59.2 billion budget plan Thursday that would eliminate furloughs going forward and place a capital gains tax on the super-rich.

It's not over yet.☞ Email your state representatives in the House now. Tell them to hold the super-rich accountable, so we can save public services and public service jobs.

The House is expected to release its budget Friday. Stay tuned for more details.

WFSE President Mike Yestramski Testifies in Favor of HB 1311 to Expand Apprenticeships in Behavioral Health (3/12)

YES on EHB 1311 - Authorizing the issuance of substance use disorder professional certifications to persons participating in apprenticeship programs. Sponsors: Bronoske, Ryu, Simmons, Leavitt, Sells, Berry, Cody, Ortiz-Self, Chopp, Davis, Bateman, Lovick, Callan, Pollet, Macri, Peterson (Passed the House. In the Senate.)

“It's a crisis level when it comes to the shortage of behavioral health workers," said WFSE President Mike Yestramski. Watch WFSE testify.

Review and comment on the bill.

WFSE VP Andrea Vaughn Testifies in Favor of Telework Bill

YES on E2SSB 5395 - Concerning use of state resources during periods where state employees are required to work from home. Sponsors: Hunt, Dhingra, Hasegawa, Kuderer, Nguyen, Nobles, Randall, Saldaña, Wellman, Wilson, C. (Passed the Senate. In the House.)

☞ Email your legislators about this WFSE priority.

 “The location of the workplace shouldn’t make any difference nor should there be an added cost because you are working from home," testified WFSE Vice President Andrea Vaughn.

This bill allows employees to use state resources when working from home and to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses. Watch the testimony.

Review and comment on the bill.

WFSE Speaks Up to Protect Member Pensions 3/11
YES on SB 5021 - Concerning the effect of expenditure reduction efforts on retirement benefits for public employees, including those participating in the shared work program. Sponsors: Hunt, Conway, Saldaña, Wilson, C.

☞ Email your legislators about this WFSE priority.

"State employees have done their part to help with our current budget dilemma," testified WFSE Executive Director Leanne Kunze. "Employees should not be asked to pay a further price by having their retirement calculations reduced as a result of the imposed furloughs or by using the shared work program."

WFSE member and Assistant Attorney General Gail Yu also testified in favor of SB 5021.

"I urge you to vote in favor of this bill because it will prevent the imposition of an unfair penalty on those public employees who are within 5 years of retirement," said Yu.

WFSE Speaks Up for DOT Members at Transportation Hearings 3/23
WFSE Lobbyists Matt Zuvich and Sandra Toussaint testified in the Senate and House Transportation Committees. WFSE thanked legislators for "buying back" 2021 furloughs in the budget proposal and urged legislators to find additional revenue sources to fund state services.

Watch the Senate testimony with Matt Zuvich.

SB 5165 - Making transportation appropriations for the 2021-2023 fiscal biennium. ☞Review and comment on the bill.

Watch the House testimony with Sandra Toussaint.

HB 1135 - Making transportation appropriations for the 2021-2023 fiscal biennium. ☞Review and comment on the bill.

Despite Narrative, Law Enforcement Unions Back Reform in WA By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service

A broad coalition of groups and unions representing law enforcement and corrections officers are applauding Washington state lawmakers for their work this session.

The groups have supported or remained neutral on seven bills in the Legislature this year that address issues of accountability, and are working with lawmakers on several other bills.

"Our members who are cops will be the first to tell you that they don't want to work with officers that violate policy and do harm to the trust that they try to build with their communities," Zuvich argued. Read more...

Union Rights Victory for Workers in Torts Division, SB 5133 Passes Senate Chamber
SB 5133 - Concerning the definition of confidential employee for the purposes of state collective bargaining. (Passed Senate. In the House.) Sponsors: Conway, Hasegawa, Keiser, Saldaña, Wilson, C.

☞ Email your legislators about this WFSE priority.

Joshua King from the Torts Division and WFSE's Dennis Eagle testified in support. Watch the testimony.

Tell Lawmakers to Pass the Wealth Tax on the Ultra-Rich
YES on HB 1406 - Improving the equity of Washington state's tax code by creating the Washington state wealth tax and taxing extraordinary financial intangible assets. Sponsors: Frame, Sullivan, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Kirby, Davis, Bateman, Valdez, Kloba, Pollet, Walen, Dolan, Simmons, Cody, Ramel, Lekanoff, Duerr, Ryu, Berry, Peterson, Hackney, Chopp, Macri, Bergquist, Riccelli, Harris-Talley Companion Bill: SB 5426

☞ Email your legislators about this WFSE priority.
Watch WFSE testify in favor of HB 1406.

Public Employees Have a Right to Contact Legislators On Their Personal Time
State employees don't give up their rights when they become employed with the state. Download this PDF to learn more about your rights.

Capital Gains Tax on the Super-Rich Clears Senate
YES on SB 5096  Investing in Washington families and creating a more progressive tax system in Washington by enacting an excise tax on the sale or exchange of certain capital assets. Sponsors: Robinson, Hunt, Nguyen, Wilson, C. (Passed the Senate In the House.)

This bill will help save state jobs and services.
☞ Email your legislators about this WFSE priority.

“It’s very clear to our members that they are paying way more in taxes than wealthy Washingtonians are paying, and they don’t think that’s right," said WFSE Legislative & Political Director Dennis Eagle. "And frankly, we think it’s a moral imperative to ask every Washingtonian to contribute their fair share and not place the burden of taxation on middle income or lower income people.” Watch WFSE testify in support.

Juneteenth Passes the House Chamber
YES on HB 1016, establishing Juneteenth as a paid holiday passed out of the House State Government Committee.(Passed the House. In the Senate.)

☞ Email your legislators about this WFSE priority.

"Juneteenth should be a holiday celebrated by everyone in the United States," said WFSE Lobbyist Sandra Toussaint. "The end of the chattel slavery in the U.S. is a cause for celebration, remembrance, and an opportunity to learn." Watch WFSE testify in support.

IT ALERT: WFSE Secures Amendment to Cloud Computing Bill
YES on HB 1274 Concerning cloud computing solutions.Sponsors: Hackney, Stokesbary, Robertson, Bateman, Springer, Walen, Leavitt, Berg, Slatter (Passed the House. In the Senate.)

☞ Review and comment on the bill.

"[HB 1274] will ensure we can migrate to the cloud without leaving anyone behind," said WFSE Lobbyist Sandra Toussaint. Watch the testimony.

Save Our Community Colleges - Tax Billionaires"Exorbitant executive salaries remain largely intact while the brunt of cuts and reductions is borne by classified employees at the colleges." - WFSE Local 304 Vice President Johnny Dwyer

WFSE Local 304 members at Seattle Colleges are speaking up about cuts to front-line staff, faculty and students. We're calling for revenue reform to save our community colleges. Hear their stories.

Invest In WA Now Petition to WA Governor & Legislators "We call on our elected leaders to speed economic recovery by avoiding reckless cuts to services, keeping money flowing in our communities, and building an economy for everyone. Now, more than ever, Washingtonians are relying on health, nutrition, transportation and other government-funded services to stay healthy, make ends meet, and get back on their feet. This is the time to invest in our safety net, not unravel it." Sign on.

Other Bills

  • E2SSB 5160 - Addressing landlord-tenant relations by providing certain tenant protections during the public health emergency, providing for legal representation in eviction cases, establishing an eviction resolution pilot program for nonpayment of rent cases, and authorizing landlord access to certain rental assistance programs.
  • YES on HB 1022 - This bill would help save jobs at the State Horse Racing Commission. View WFSE testimony.
  • SB 5268 - Transforming services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by increasing the capabilities of community residential settings and redesigning the long-term nature of intermediate care facilities
  • E2SHB 1194 - Strengthening parent-child visitation during child welfare proceedings. (Unfunded mandate.)

1/26:

Lawmakers are debating issues that impact your future. They need to hear from the experts; that means you.

WFSE Lobbies to Extend Collective Bargaining Rights to Employees at Torts Division
WFSE's Dennis Eagle testified alongside legal professionals in favor of SB 5133, a bill that would extend collective bargaining to employees in Washington's Torts Division. Watch the testimony.Review and comment on the bill.

Speaking Up to Protect Members' Retirement
WFSE/AWAAG member Philip Ferester and WFSE lobbyist Matt Zuvich testified in favor of SB 5021, legislation that would help protect pensions of furloughed employees. Watch the testimony.

SB 5021 - Concerning the effect of expenditure reduction efforts on retirement benefits for public employees, including those participating in the shared work program.
Review and comment on the bill.

WFSE Calls for Housing Assistance & Resources for Members Behind on Rent
WFSE members and the people we serve face growing housing insecurity due to the global pandemic.

"By providing tenants with legal options to pay back rent and resources for landlords to stay afloat, this bill would help," said WFSE Lobbyist Sandra Toussaint. Watch the testimony.

SB 5160 - Addressing landlord-tenant relations by providing certain tenant protections during and after public health emergencies, providing for legal representation in eviction cases, and authorizing landlord access to state rental assistance programs. ☞Review and comment on the bill.

WFSE Opposes Bill That Would Cut Community Corrections Jobs
HB 1126 - Limiting tolling of community custody terms.
Review and comment on the bill.

"You shouldn't have to pick between FTEs and having the technology around to be able to do the job. And those are the choices that you're always going to be presented with as long as our revenue system is upside down and last in the nation," said WFSE Lobbyist Matt Zuvich. Watch the testimony.

Juneteenth Makes It Out of Committee
HB 1016 (☞review and comment on the bill) establishing Juneteenth as a paid holiday passed out of the House State Government Committee. Watch WFSE testify in support.

FACT: Most WFSE Member Jobs Fall Under the Unprotected Portion of the Budget
We launched the People First Campaign to educate and mobilize WFSE members and our allies on the need for revenue reform, institutional change, and an investment in public services. WFSE members and our communities have sacrificed enough. Tell lawmakers to require billionaires to contribute their share. Take action: Click here to call your legislators.

Email Your Legislators: Don't cut jobs & services; tax billionaires instead.
Lawmakers are debating on whether to cut jobs and services or finally start requiring wealthy billionaires to pay taxes. If lawmakers don't secure new revenue in this session, cuts and layoffs will be on the horizon. Email your legislators here.

IT ALERT: WFSE Opposes Bill That Could Outsource IT Jobs
HB 1274 Concerning cloud computing solutions. ☞Review and comment.

"We are in support of updating our systems, but we think this bill as written does not address the foundational needs to get us there." -Sandra Toussaint
Watch the testimony.

Other Bills We're Watching

  • HB 1137 Elevating road maintenance and preservation in transportation planning.
  • HB 1153  Increasing language access in public schools.
  • HB 1310 Concerning permissible uses of force by law enforcement and correctional officers.

Not a member? Join today.

History has shown that when we stand together as a union, we can build a better future for our jobs, families and communities. That means: Fair pay, affordable health care, retirement security, preserving public services, and more!

No Workforce Has More at Stake In the Decisions Made By State Lawmakers - Join PEOPLE Today -


1/11-1/17:

WFSE Launches First Ever Virtual Lobby Days

Screenshot of WFSE Lobby Day Training via Zoom

WFSE members are adapting to the times to ensure their voices are heard. More than one hundred members from across the state joined the January 9 WFSE Lobby Training. Why? Because no other workforce has more at stake in the decisions made by state legislators. Miss the training? No worries; we'll catch you up. Click here to register to meet your legislators.

WFSE Testifies on State's Operational Budget, Calls On Lawmakers to Find New Revenue
The 2021 Legislative Session began January 11. Decisions about wages, work conditions and the services we provide will be made by our elected officials over the next three months.

"State employees have done their part. We've made sacrifices. Now it's time for the rich and powerful to do the same," said WFSE’s Director of Legislative & Political Affairs Dennis Eagle.

We need shared responsibility, not cuts. That means the super-wealthy will have to start chipping in. See budget highlights here.

WFSE Testifies on Law Enforcement Accountability & Reform
"As a union, we champion collective bargaining and due process rights – including officers, while also advocating for reforms to confront systemic and individual racism. We must rebuild trust between police departments and the communities they are sworn to serve," said WFSE Executive Director Leanne Kunze. Learn about SB 5134 and SB 5055.

WFSE Is Leading the Way to Make Juneteenth a State Holiday
"We can’t move forward into a space that’s truly anti-racist until we know our history," said WFSE Lobbyist Sandra Toussaint.

"We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a federal holiday, but there would be no Martin Luther King Jr. without Juneteenth. We need to recognize this day as not only a piece of Black history, but of our country’s history. Making this a state-recognized holiday will be a huge step forward. It is important in our work to move forward in anti-racism." Learn about HB 1016.

Speaking Up for WFSE Members at the Horse Racing Commission
Every legislative session, WFSE staff and members keep a close eye on legislation that impacts state agencies--big and small. WFSE Lobbyist Matt Zuvich spoke up in support of members at the Horse Racing Commission:

"If we don't do something for this agency, they're going to be out of money and unable to perform their tasks..." Learn more about HB 1022.

Did you know Washington has the most backwards tax structure in the nation? Take action now to save services & jobs! We launched the People First Campaign to educate and mobilize WFSE members and our allies on the need for revenue reform, institutional change, and an investment in public services. Take action: Click here to call your legislators.

Tell WA Lawmakers to Put People First & Require Billionaires to Chip In
Almost all WFSE members work in the 30 percent of the budget that's NOT constitutionally protected from cuts.

If lawmakers don't secure new revenue in this session, cuts and layoffs could be on the horizon. Email your legislators here.

Honor Martin Luther King Jr. By Taking Action Today
"In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a 'revolution of values' in America. They sought to build a broad, fusion movement that could unite poor and impacted communities across the country. Their name was a direct cry from the underside of history: The Poor People’s Campaign."

The Washington Federation of State Employees and AFSCME are mobilizing partners in the Poor People's Campaign. Learn about the campaign and how you can help here.

WSLC 2021 Workers’ Recovery Agenda
The Washington State Labor Council’s 2021 Workers’ Recovery Agenda is now available. The WSLC’s policy priorities include the following:Invest in Washington, Pass the Worker Protrection Act, Build Infrastructure for Jobs and Our Climate, Address Washington’s Child Care Crisis, and more.

Invest In Washington Now
"We call on our elected leaders to speed economic recovery by avoiding reckless cuts to services, keeping money flowing in our communities, and building an economy for everyone. Now, more than ever, Washingtonians are relying on health, nutrition, transportation and other government-funded services to stay healthy, make ends meet, and get back on their feet. This is the time to invest in our safety net, not unravel it." Learn more here.

What's Coming Up?

  • SB 5133 Concerning the definition of confidential employee for the purposes of state collective bargaining.
  • SB 5051 Concerning state oversight and accountability of peace officers and corrections officers.
  • SB 5021 Concerning the effect of expenditure reduction efforts on retirement benefits for public employees, including those participating in the shared work program.
  • HB 1126 Limiting tolling of community custody terms.
  • SB 5163 Concerning the placement and treatment of conditionally released sexually violent predators.

Not a member? Join today.
History has shown that when we stand together as a union, we can build a better future for our jobs, families and communities. That means: Fair pay, affordable health care, retirement security, preserving public services, and more!