tea » tea times: May 14, 1999 email: teaseattle  

TEA Times

TEA Actions
On April 26th, TEA representatives attended the King County Council’s Labor Caucus held at the Seattle Labor Temple. It was very surreal seeing Ron Sims, the other council members and their staff all dressed for a normal workday assembled in the Great Hall of Labor. Much of what went on was a farce; a token show of support for organized labor. We were not invited to participate in the fanfare, but we did make some major inroads by just being present. First, we handed a leaflet regarding TEA’s struggle for representation to every participant entering the hall. For those willing to stop and talk (and there were quite a few), we established key contacts of support within other represented groups that are willing to come forward when called on to support our effort.

A very significant presentation was given by Ron Judd, Sec/Treas. of the King County Labor Council (AFL/CIO) concerning the basic right of employees to organize. Mr. Judd made some startling and relevant statement, such as: “King County has a card-check neutrality policy”. If this were really true, then it would be tied to a county ordinance adopted by the Council. TEA pursed this issue with the Council’s Management, Labor and Customer Service Committee lead staffer: Carlos Martinez. A meeting with Carlos was held (he came here to meet with us!!!!) yesterday. While he was careful not to make any promises, he was baffled by OHRM’s resistance to TEA. He indicated that we have satisfied the County’s defacto policy of granting recognition to any group with more than 70% response on signature cards. He indicated that he would talk to OHRM to determine the basis for their opposition and get back to us.

The other significant outcome of our presence at the Caucus was the support that was shown by individuals in other areas of the County: Solid Waste, Roads, Uniformed Officers Association, etc. We hope to capitalize on this support at an upcoming DNR, JLMC meeting next week.

TEA Trial in Thurston County - June 4th
The next major event in TEA’s future, your future we hope, is the realization of our lawsuit against PERC charging that they failed to follow their administrative procedures in their dealings with TEA. Our attorney has prepared a trial brief that is available for your review. Please see a TEA Officer for a copy (Wyatt Wood, Sally Turner, Severne Johnson, or Ken Madden).

This is a very important event and we would urge all who can attend, please do so. Carpools are being arranged, so get on board. Please join us in a show of support.

TEA has assigned Ken Madden as interim Treasurer. As a result, I need to grovel for your financial support. We are asking for about $10/month in any frequency that suits you. Thanks to all who participated last month. Please see me if you have any questions regarding the financial status of TEA, and thanks for your support.

King County Compensation Study - May 17, 1999
There has been a lot of E-mail devoted to the County's Compensation Study lately and there's a proud Ricardo Cruz explaining that the study is completed and that the unions are bargaining with the County over how the wages will be structured and the unrepresented workers will get whatever the unions negotiate.

First, rest assured, you and I may be unrecognized, but we aren't unrepresented. As long as TEA has petitions on the table our conditions of employment can't be changed. On the most basic level that means wages! Second, while I've got your attention, I want you to think about this classification and compensation issue. When we do become the recognized bargaining agent for technical and engineering employees in Transit and Wastewater this might be one of the most important issues we negotiate. Do you know?

The new classifications don't reflect the difference between the kind of work we do and what employees in other County engineering groups do. The new classifications limit your opportunities by artificially limiting classifications.

When the County says that the Compensation Study is the result of Puget Sound Governments and State Government getting together it means that Puget Sound Governments and the State Government are getting together to decide what they should pay. I think that’s called COLLUSION.

Then, the County shoots them selves in the foot. The issue of the day is competitiveness driven by fear of privatization. Why is it so hard to understand that if we base our salaries only on what government agencies are paying we'll end up with two salary standards, one for government employees and the other for the private sector; if we're really going to be competitive with the private sector, we need to draw from the same talent pool. The week of Cruz's announcement, local papers ran a story about how the State's DOT has projects ready to go, and funding for the projects, but can't get enough qualified engineers to work at State salaries to manage the work.

Light at the End of the Tunnel
King County and Local 17 have opposed us because all engineering and technical workers in the County are represented by Local 17, period. However, the County has just granted voluntary recognition to Teamsters Local 117 (that's clerks and typists) to represent engineers, technicians and supervisors in the Wastewater plants.

Does that mean that with our day in court coming they're prepared to withdraw their argument?

Stay tuned.

-- Wyatt