By Jason Mercier, State Budget Solutions
Governor Gregoire will begin negotiations with state employee unions tomorrow (May 2) to determine the terms of the 2013-15 state union contracts. These 2013-15 Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) are to be finalized by October 1 of this year – a month before the next Governor is chosen. Based on the 2002 law that granted state employee unions exclusive bargaining rights with the Governor, a CBA is to be submitted to the Office of Financial Management (OFM) by October 1. So what does this all mean for the next Governor? Short of the new contracts being declared financially unfeasible by OFM after the November revenue forecast, the only shot a Governor Inslee or McKenna will have at changing the terms of the 2013-15 CBA will be if the Legislature rejects them.
As noted by this 2004 press release from Governor Gary Locke announcing the first CBAs agreed to under the 2002 law, prior to its passage the Legislature determined state employee compensation via the budget process:
This year’s contract negotiations mark the first time in state history that unions have been able to bargain with the state for wages and benefits. The new personnel reform law passed by the Legislature in 2002 expanded the state’s collective bargaining activities to include wages and benefits. In the past, the Legislature unilaterally set those terms.