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Summer 2012

Contract trend improves

by County and City Employee staff on August 13, 2012

With talk of cutbacks and budget shortfalls everywhere, Council 2 members feared the worst when they faced contract negotiations this year. But, so far, they have been largely satisfied with agreements reached around the state, particularly given the economic situation.And, if anything, the trend seems to be improving.

Take, for example, recent contract negotiations in Snohomish County.

“It was as good as it was going to get with the exponential rate of increase in medical costs,” says Staff Representative James Trefry of a recent 2012-2014 master contract settlement between local unions representing workers in Snohomish County and the Superior and District Courts.

The major amendments are to the Regence medical plans, which were restructured to keep down union members’ premiums. “We tried to minimize impacts on the members as much as possible,” Trefry says. 

As part of the agreement, Group Health coverage will be free for full family coverage again in 2012.

For 2013-2014, cost increases will be split 80-20 between the employer and employees.

“Our Snohomish County members triumphed by minimizing changes to the plans and by keeping employee premium costs as low as possible,” Trefry adds.

In addition to a 1.35 percent general increase in compensation in April 2012, employees will  receive 1.5 percent increases for each of 2013 and 2014.

Another example comes from recent wage-only negotiations between Local 1553-G and the City of Goldendale.

“We were pleased with what we got,” says Yakima Staff Representative Yvette Lewis. “The negotiations went smoothly and it took only two meetings to reach agreement.”

 The city’s workers will receive a 3.4 percent increase for 2012.

A similar story comes from Union Gap where negotiations resulted in a 3.5 percent wage increase.