Republicans want governor to renegotiate labor contracts

Mar 10, 2011

It's not quite Wisconsin, but Republicans – and a lone Democrat - in Washington are taking a jab at state employee unions. They've introduced legislation to not fund union contracts negotiated by the governor.

The Senate Republican bill would declare a state fiscal crisis and reject Governor Chris Gregoire's request for funds to implement collective bargaining contracts.

The proposed legislation makes it clear the sponsors don't think Gregoire drove a hard enough bargain in her negotiations with unionized state employees.

The lone Democrat to sign onto the bill is a former Republican, Senator Rodney Tom. He's also proposed what he calls his "5-5-25" plan: a 5% reduction in the state workforce, a 5% pay cut for those remaining, and a requirement for state employees to fund 25%  of their health care costs:

"I don't see how you get to a budget solution without looking at payroll. And unless you address that issue you're kind of playing around the edges and not really making it sustainable."

Senate Budget Chair, Seattle Democrat Ed Murray, says the proposal to defund the union contracts is unlikely to get a hearing. He says lawmakers should take their concerns about labor contracts to the governor.