“I am one of two people in Washington State who do the critical work that allows people with disabilities to work and to maximize their potential for employment. ...
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Recruitment and retention cost taxpayers and delays public services.
The 4.8% cost-of-living adjustments in the current two-year general government contract were the first raises in seven years. And during two of those seven years, state employees took a 3% pay cut, on top of layoffs, higher caseloads, and other sacrifices that saved our state during The Great Recession.
The state’s latest salary survey conducted by a private company found that the pay rates for 99 percent of state job classifications lag behind counterparts in the private and public sector. The state of Washington is this state’s largest employer. To remain an “employer of choice,” it must do better. Without action, the crisis in attracting and keeping state employees will worsen. We will see a mass exodus of the dedicated state employees who make Washington work.
Our Kids at Risk
High caseloads have led to an exodus of state social workers that harms the mission to protect abused and neglected children across the state. There’s an overall turnover rate of 20 percent for social workers; more than 300 left state service in 2015. In December 2015, 50 percent of case-carrying social workers had caseloads of more than the court-ordered mandate of 18 children, with a high of 71. Of the 60 Children’s Administration social workers working in the city of Kent in the Seattle metro area almost 100% have left in the last 3 years.
Our Workplaces at Risk
It takes 2 years and costs the state $210,238 to train Occupational Safety and Health professionals, but 1 in 3 hired since 2008 have left after 2 years, resulting in millions of dollars to train their replacements.
We need people to live and work in these areas to provide vital public services.
High cost of living areas are often also high population centers where there are more jobs for public employees because more people need public services. There are more kids in Seattle that need our protection. Many jobs are also region-specific. For example, a costal ecologist keeping our waterways open and safe can’t move to the eastern part of the state and still get her job done. We need to make sure that all people have access to public services, no matter where they live.
State employees in high cost-of-living areas have fewer dollars to spend in our communities.
Right now, state employees in high cost-of-living areas are effectively earning less for doing the same work. The higher costs of housing, child care, and transportation mean employees in high-cost areas have a lower standard of living than employees in other areas. Because of costs, their dollars buy less. For example, a person living in Spokane who earns $50,000 a year would have to earn approximately $34,000 a year more in Seattle to have the same standard of living. Public employees help increase the prosperity of our community. For every $1.00 invested in a state employee, they return a $1.60 to our community.
High cost of living adjustments help retain public employees and keep public services available. Several state agencies, as well as local and federal government, have already recognized that it costs much more to live in certain areas of the state and have adjusted salaries for their employees in those areas. Washington State Troopers receive geographic pay adjustments of 10% for King County, 5% for Snohomish County, and 3% for Pierce County. Washington State acknowledges higher costs through per diem (hotel/meal reimbursement rates), with 112% more in King Co. and 38% more in Thurston County, but not in what they pay state employees. Source: Per Diem Rates, WA State OFM. 10/14
We are Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28. We are 40,000 employees united for retaining vital public services and public programs that make Washington thrive. We never quit working for you.