The deal still has to be ratified by vote, but 500 workers represented by the Washington State Council of County and City Employees have tentatively agreed to forgo their guaranteed cost of living increases this year. With his proposed .2 sales tax increase on hold until November, King County Executive Dow Constantine has been pushing union represented employees to give up their COLA's. He announced his first successful effort at King County Headquarters this morning, where Council President Chris Dugovich explained the union's agreement, saying "We are not going to be the ones to deny that revenues are down, that they have been down."
King County employs an estimated 15,000 workers, over 80 percent of which are represented by unions. If Constantine is successful in getting those with expiring contracts to forgo their COLA increases, he says it would save the county $9.4 million.
The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), with its 4,130 members, represents one of the largest blocks of unionized King County employees. And its contract with the county is up for renegotiation this year. ATU President Paul Bachtel won't discuss whether the union is considering forgoing COLA increases, or comment on the negotiations, saying only that "Both sides have made proposals."
This afternoon, the county announced that it has landed another union. Twelve officers from the Uniformed Command Association will forgo their 2011 COLA increases, according to a just-released statement. The 12 jail captains work as shift commanders at King County Jail and the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center.