tea » tea archives » January 25 2009 email:  


T i m e s

January 25 2009


  1. Transit Contract and Retro Update
  2. Wastewater Contract Mediation
  3. Furlough Update
  4. 117 Communications
  5. February Meeting Calendar

1.  Transit Contract

On Wed., January 21, TEA and King County representatives met to discuss the Final Award Agreement (ie Labor Contract) for the period 2005 thru 2007 and the Retro payments. The parties had been in contact several times since arbitrator Beck issued his decision on December 23rd and scheduled a face to face meeting to discuss specific issues surrounding the award and the calculation of Retro payments. King County wanted to verify the application of the arbitration award to several job classifications that are currently on the County's squared table (ie. PPM's, SPM's), particularly those hired during the '05-'07 timeframe.

King County also made a proposal to "back-charge" Transit TEA members for the $35/month spousal benefit access fee as part of the Healthy Initiatives benefit plan. Their proposal was to charge this fee back to January 2007. This would likely result in a reduction of $840 ($35x24) from the retro of TEA members with benefit-eligible spouses in 2007 and 2008. TEA responded that this was unfair and likely illegal. As a counter proposal, TEA suggested a 2009 effective date as fair and King County indicated that they would reconsider their proposal.

The County made corrections to their wage addendum for the Contract and submitted it to TEA on Friday, 1/23. TEA plans to have the Contract signed by President Roger Browne and King County Human Resources Division Director Anita Whitfield within a week. This will allow payroll to make the hourly wage adjustments and will start the process for the calculation of Retro. Signing the document starts the official 30 day clock for payment.

2.  Wastewater Contract Update

The Mediator returns to work on Mon., January 26th. The TEA Bargaining Committee and King County plan to schedule two meetings for mediation in February with a goal to have a contract offer for wastewater staff to vote on as soon as possible.

3.  Furlough Update

News on two fronts regarding the furlough. TEA filed a ULP alleging that the County interfered with TEA, failed to bargain, appealed directly to employees and other offenses. PERC has issued a preliminary ruling in our favor, and the County has been given 21 days to respond to PERC.

TEA received several individual grievances from members regarding the furlough, and will consolidate them into a step 2 grievance to each department.

4.  117 Communications

A number of transit members have asked me to respond to a spreadsheet circulated by the "Employees for Professional Representation". That spreadsheet makes a number of errors regarding actual range comparisons for individual classifications but attempts to compare you to the Wastewater contract for the most part. It should have compared you to the County offer instead. Once the errors are corrected, you will find that 61% of you did better than the County offer, 25% worse, and the rest about the same. More importantly, the County offer, which is the method 117 adopted for Transit Supervisors, would have placed you on the square table at the step that is not a pay cut. Instead of the 5.58% you won in arbitration, you would get between 0 and 2.4%. The practical effect of that is you will now get between 9.6% and 19.6% more retro, even if your pay range award by the arbitrator was less than the County offer.

In addition, the 117 website contains information regarding the 117 raid of TEA members. Not content to tell the true facts, this website contains a number of outright lies in an attempt to persuade you that the fight is all but over. Here are a few:
  • The site states that TEA filed ULPs that protect member interests for the purpose of delaying the vote. In fact, we filed them when contract violations occurred, and one of them before 117 ever circulated cards! We would hope a "professional" union would do the same, but perhaps 117 feels differently ...
  • 117 says that TEA was offered a merger that it did not even bother to take to the Board. In fact, TEA president Roger Browne expressed an interest to have 117's attorney Spencer Thal submit an affiliation proposal. Spencer did forward a merger proposal that asked TEA to surrender all of it's cash to 117, in exchange for which, TEA would move into 117 (not it's own bargaining unit) and 117 would assume TEA's remaining obligations. President Browne did convey this offer to the Board, and discussion there did not get past the dismay over "give us all your cash". Subsequently, Spencer met with Roger Browne and Ken Madden to get some clarity on that. We told him that it might be possible if each bargaining unit could vote separately, but that it would be impractical for wastewater staff (with 225 members) to decide for transit staff or wastewater supervisors whether a merger was acceptable. Spencer indicated it had to be all or nothing. So, take away from this, the true story: 117 killed the merger concept.
  • The Teamsters try to make hay of the fact that in 2009, TEA transit staff will still be on a 2007 wage table (that's true). They fail to tell you that the Transit supervisors they represent are ALSO on the 2007 table. Worse, the engineer V's in supervisors got 3.09% less pay in 2005 than transit staff got in arbitration, and are paying higher dues for the privilege! They have a reopener which is not binding on either party and offers no guarantee the County will grant the supervisors more pay. I'm sure we will all be interested to see if a "professional" union can do a better job negotiating than TEA does, but so far, they have not.
  • Here is another "fact" from the website: The US CPI ran significantly higher than the Seattle CPI at the beginning of the contract in 2005, employees lost the value of that increase over a longer period of time. Actually, the Seattle formula for 2005 COLA was 2.28%, the County all cities formula was 2.19% - oops! They got it wrong again.
  • And one more: the idea that we can set aside the ULP while a vote proceeds without giving up our rights is false. If the membership votes to move to 117 the opportunity to address those contract violations goes away forever. Regardless of when we do the voting, TEA has an obligation to defend your rights under the current contract and the Board has a fiduciary responsibility to enforce the terms of those contracts.

I suggest that if you are going to pay nearly 1% more of your salary to a "professional union" you better get something more for it - don't you?

- Roger Browne, TEA President

5.  TEA Meeting Schedule

January 27 TEA Grievance Committee Meeting
February  4 TEA Board, 12-1, KSC 4G
February 11 TEA Board, 12-1, KSC 4G
February 18 TEA Monthly Member Meeting, 12-1, KSC, 603/604, 6th Floor
February 24 TEA Grievance Committee Meeting

TEA Board

  Roger Browne, President
  Adé Franklin, Vice President
  Ken Madden, Secretary
  Terry Browne, Treasurer
  Eric Davison, Wastewater Bargaining Chair
  Jerry Williams, Transit Bargaining Chair
  John Phillips, Council of Reps. Chair