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T i m e s

October 31, 2003

Special Edition: Transit Medical & WTD Mediation

Transit TEA Employee Open Enrollment

On September 30th, Transit members received an email stating that Benefits Open Enrollment for 2004 for Transit TEA members would begin on October 15th and end on October 31st. That announcement and schedule failed to consider that King County was proposing changes that needed to be bargained with TEA. King County proposed to eliminate the Pacific Care option and modify the Group Health/Alliant plan to just GH.

TEA and King County met on October 23rd to discuss King County's proposal. TEA then called a meeting of the affected Transit members. The meeting was held on during lunch on Monday, October 23rd; 70% of the affected members attended. A counter proposal was developed at the meeting. TEA then met with King County on Wed., October 25th to present the counterproposal.

Transit TEA members will receive their open enrollment materials during the first two weeks of November. The options will include the two Kingcare plans (Basic and Preferred) and a Group Health Plan that is not the Alliant Plan, so it does not include access to Virginia Mason Medical Center. The coinsurance (for Kingcare) and the copays (for the Group Health option will remain at the current (2002) levels until we conclude the arbitration process. All prescription drug coverage will remain at the 2002 levels. TEA negotiators are still working with the county to ensure this is the best medical program they can offer and TEA has hired a medical plan consultant to assist.

If you have any questions feel free to contact Elizabeth Morgan 263-3404.

WTD/TEA Contract Mediation - Update

Two mediation sessions were held on October 20th and 24th. These two sessions marked the return of the original Mediatior: Katrina Boedeker; the last time she attended WTD/TEA Mediation was back in April. In the past, Katrina has been very effective at keeping the negotiations on target, adding clarity and focus to the process.

The session on 10/20 also marked the beginning for a new negotiator for King County: Nick McCudden. Mr. McCudden is the third negotiatior that King County has had this year. The County's last negotiator, Terri Hansen, resigned to work for Solid Waste HR, and Ron Weigelt resigned in May to work for the Dept. of Public Health.

We expected King County to respond to TEA's wage proposal on 10/20. Earlier comments by Terri Hansen at the Mediation on 9/8 led to this expectation. Keep in mind that TEA presented our wage proposal back in April 2003!! Unfortunately, the County had no response; much of this first session was spent getting Katrina back up to speed on wage and contract language issues. Katrina made it clear to the County that they needed to evaluate and respond to TEA's wage proposal by the next mediation session on October 24th.

On Friday, October 24th, the parties met and began the mediation session by signing a tentative agreement on telecommuting. Then we discussed several contract articles and came to agreement subject to the wage package.

King County followed by distributing their wage proposal from December 5, 2002. This is unacceptable. The County needs to evaluate and respond to TEA's wage proposal. The parties discussed the County's obligation (via the Gossett Ordinance) to conduct a market survey of comparable agencies which need to be identified in a "collaborative process with the bargaining representatives". King County appears to be falling far short of their obligation to fair bargaining.

The WTD negotiating team needs member input in order to react to King County's bad faith negotiations. Please attend the next membership meeting on November 12th to learn more and express you opinion. Your input is essential in order for the negotiating team to prepare for the next mediation session on November 13th.

November Meeting Schedule

November  3 WTD Contract Negotiating Team, 12-1pm
November  3 Wastewater Productivity Committee, 3-5 pm
November  4 TEA Business Meeting (King St. Center, 5F), 12-1pm
November  5 Council of Reps. (Elliott Bay Café), 12-1pm
November 10 WTD Contract Negotiating Team, 12-1pm
November 11 HOLIDAY
November 12 TEA Regular Meeting (Elliott Bay Café), 12-1pm
November 13 WTD Mediation, 10-4pm
November 17 WTD Contract Negotiating Team, 12-1pm
November 18 TEA Business Meeting (King St. Center, 5F), 12-1pm
November 19 WTD Mediation, 10-4pm
November 24 WTD Contract Negotiating Team, 12-1pm
November 25 TEA Business Meeting (King St. Center, 5F), 12-1pm
November 27-28 HOLIDAY