HOTLINE News 1/12/18


Press release from AFSCME: AFSCME submitted today its brief on the merits of the corporate-backed Supreme Court Case, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.

Washington, DC —

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) submitted today its brief on the merits of the corporate-backed Supreme Court Case, Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. Oral arguments are scheduled for Feb. 26.

If facts, law, and precedent matter, all nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of working people in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 – just as they did more than 40 years ago when they found the state and local governments’ system of ordering their labor relations to be constitutional.

Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 is nothing more than a politically-motivated assault on the freedom of working people to earn a better life and an attempt to further rig the rules in favor of billionaires and corporate interests. In these turbulent times, marked by division and attacks on fact and reason, we hope the Supreme Court will consider carefully the facts, precedent, decades of labor peace and stability, and the motivations behind those seeking to undo it.

Now more than ever in the modern era, Americans must be able to trust their governmental institutions. Just as millions of Americans who rely on public service workers to keep their water clean, care for their families in hospitals, and respond to their emergencies quickly and professionally, millions of public service workers now rely on nine Supreme Court justices to decide this case on its merits -- not on the ideological animus of the billionaires and corporate interests who are funding this blatant effort to silence the voices of workers.

Privacy battle shifts to Legislature

AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE)'s fight to protect your privacy has shifted to the Legislature to be consistent with our recent court victory

Protect my privacyAFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) has blocked attempts by the Freedom Foundation to violate your privacy by getting your dates of birth.

The state Court of Appeals in October sided with AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) members and ruled the Freedom Foundation’s request violated state employees’ constitutional rights.

Now, the fight has shifted to the state Legislature where the union is working a pair of bills that could seal the deal by keeping state employees’ dates of birth off limits to the Freedom Foundation-types.

Sen. Patty Kuderer of the 48th Dist. has sponsored Senate Bill 6079 to make dates of birth non-disclosable, protecting your privacy. SB 6079 has been referred to the Senate State Government Committee.

Meanwhile, another bill pending before the House State Government Committee (SHB 1160) would keep passport and visa numbers from unwarranted privacy violations undertaken by the likes of the Freedom Foundation. AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) has also asked the committee to keep existing protections for dates of birth and zip codes.

AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE)'s fight in the courts and the Legislature is so important because in this day and age such private information as dates of birth can be used to unlock so much other private information about state employees.

“We just don’t think that’s safe,” AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) Lobbyist Matt Zuvich told the House committee Jan. 10.

Stop the layoffs, make the investments, WFSE/AFSCME member tells Senate panel on Capital Construction Budget

Statewide Parks Local 1466 member Brian Yearout spoke for all of us Thursday (Jan. 11) when he called on the Senate to act on the Capital Construction Budget to stop project delays and the layoffs of 500 state employees.

“Several of my valuable co-workers have already been let go,” Yearout told the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Yearout’s testimony came on Day 4 of the 2018 legislative session as the Senate committee joined the fast-track push to pass the long-stalled state Capital Construction Budget. The Senate version is SB 6090.

That budget funds needed improvements to our infrastructure. The delay has driven up costs and jeopardized safety. And led to layoffs.

“The inability to move forward with these projects has created adverse effects on our buildings, roads, utilities, our natural and historic culture and our state economy,” Yearout said.

It’s also harmed efforts to recruit and retain good state employees.

The committee has scheduled a vote on SB 6090 for next Tuesday, Jan. 16.

“Make the investments in our institutions, schools, our public safety programs and your state parks,” Yearout testified.

Taking center stage next week: Capital Budget, plus our priority bills on PSERS, social workers, campus police, affordable housing, prescription drug costs, shared leave

Next week is a big week for our issues and priority legislation.

Here’s what’s on tap for the week of Jan. 15-19:

Monday, Jan. 15

  • Monday is the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday – that means it’s our MLK Day Lobby Day. Sign up for that and every Lobby Day at:
  • One of priority bills that would grant binding arbitration rights to campus police, HB 1559, comes before the House Appropriations Committee.
  • The new Senate majority has wasted no time moving along the state Capital Construction Budget, schedule a vote in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on its version, SB 6090. The public hearing was yesterday (Jan. 11). The House version 2SHB 1075 is on the calendar for a vote of the full House.
  •  The House Public Safety Committee holds a public hearing on HB 1889 that would create an Office of Corrections Ombuds.

Tuesday, Jan. 16

  • The Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee holds a hearing on one of our priority issues, prescription drug cost transparency, in this case SB 5586. A House version, 2SHB 1541, is awaiting a vote of the full House.
  • The Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee takes up a bill allowing specified offenders to earn positive achievement time on community custody.
  • The Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee takes up the proposal from Sen. Reuven Carlyle of the 36th Dist. to reduce carbon pollution by moving to a clean energy economy, SB 6203.

Wednesday, Jan. 17

  • Two of our priority pension bills come up before the House Appropriations Committee Jan. 17:

    Our priority bill to expand membership in the Public Safety Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS), HB 1558. It would add institutions workers in high-risk jobs to PSERS so they could retire earlier at 60 in recognition of the physical toll their dangerous jobs take on them; and

    Our priority AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE)-initiated bill that would make PERS 2 the default pension plan for newly hired state employees, HB 1560.
  • Our priority bill to expand shared leave, SB 5295, comes before the Senate State Government Committee. SB 5295 would add the use of shared leave for employees who are sick or temporarily disabled because of pregnancy disability or for the purposes of parental leave to bond with the employee’s newborn, adoptive or foster child.
  • The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee takes up a bill to add part-time employees to state civil service.
  • The Senate Ways and Means Committee holds work sessions on Corrections and residential habilitation centers.

Thursday, Jan. 18

  • Our priority bill on affordable housing, HB 2583, comes up for a hearing in the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee.
  • Our priority bill on Interpreter Services (SB 6245) comes up for a hearing in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.
  • The bill creating the Social Work Professional Loan Repayment Program (SB 6259) gets a public hearing in the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee. 
  • The Senate Ways and Means Committee holds a public hearing on SB 5513 that would increase tax exemption transparency and accountability.

Friday, Jan. 19

Every day is Lobby Day. Sign up:

Want to earn up to $10,000 for your cost-saving ideas (Hint: You could until 2011. Read on.)

Bill would bring back state Productivity Board, employee suggestion program

The program that generated millions of dollars in taxpayer savings thanks to employees’ “Brainstorm” ideas may live again under a new bill that would re-establish the state Productivity Board.

The board was suspended in 2011 as a cost-saving measure brought on by The Great Recession.

Senate Bill 6332, sponsored by Sen. Phil Fortunato of the 31st Dist., would re-start the board by July 31 of this year.

The beauty of the old Productivity Board program was its objectivity. It gave state employees whose good ideas were ignored by their agencies an outlet through the board, which was part of the Office of Secretary of State.

And countless AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) members used that freedom to innovate and won the popular “Brainstorm Awards” for ideas they generated. They got to share in the savings: $10,000 or 10 percent, whichever was less. That savings sharing plan would also be restored in Fortunato’s bill.

That’s it for now.