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PNS Daily Newscast - Monday, Aug 21st, 2017 


Here are some of the stories we're covering today: A big protest is planned against President Trump today, a huge gathering in Maine on Sunday mourning the loss of three people killed during a white nationalist rally, and it's eclipse day but a moon of a different sort caught the country's attention about twenty five years ago.

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After Multiple Special Sessions, Inslee Signs State Worker Contracts

Gov. Jay Inslee at his last contract signing session with the state worker's union in 2015. (Laura Reisdorph/Washington Federation of State Employees)
Gov. Jay Inslee at his last contract signing session with the state worker's union in 2015. (Laura Reisdorph/Washington Federation of State Employees)
July 27, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington state workers receive recognition for their hard work today as Gov. Jay Inslee signs the contracts negotiated by their union last year.

Lawmakers spent two special sessions working on a budget deal before finally agreeing to give state employees a 6 percent increase in pay over the next two years. Greg Devereux, executive director of Washington Federation of State Employees, said that increase is vital for retaining workers.

A state salary survey has shown 99 percent of state workers are behind the market pay. Devereux said lawmakers supported workers in other ways as well.

"We have improvements in the vacation leave for the first time in 40 years,” he said. "There are many, many specific job pay increases for jobs that were below market, and 6 percent over two years is a good start in making back a lot of what we lost during the recession."

The new budget increases vacation accrual rates. The state workers' union represents 43,000 state and public service employees.

But Devereux is still watching Olympia. Last week, lawmakers adjourned their third special session without passing a capital construction budget. The $4 billion, two-year budget includes funds for school construction, wildfire prevention and improvements to the state's mental health system.

Devereux said that affects funding for communities and also impacts some state workers.

"There's still state workers that are tied to those programs and there will be a number of layoffs if they don't fix the capital budget. So, we think it's critical,” Devereux said. "Never in the history of the state has there not been a capital budget."

Lawmakers are at an impasse over a water rights bill tied to the budget. Inslee said he won't call another special session until he is sure legislators have come to an agreement.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA