Business Agent Report - May 2020
By Liz Brown
During the COVID-19 crisis, many of the workers I represent have continued to work, including dispatchers at American Medical Response; office-clerical employees at YRC Freight, ABF and Peninsula Trucking; mailers and single-copy drivers at The Seattle Times/Rotary Offset Press and employees at waste water treatment plants. Cities have for the most part adopted alternative scheduling, with most office employees working remotely or with limited in-office hours. Public works employees have in some cases adopted alternative schedules, while other have worked without interruption or change.
Most employers have provided basic personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers, along with sanitizer and disinfectants for cleaning personal and shared workspaces.
The cities of Lake Stevens and Edmonds adopted “hazard pay” compensation plans for employees required to work on site during the “stay home, stay healthy” order. The Edmonds plan offers our members a 6 percent increase for hours worked on site in the workplace.
Layoffs have occurred at freight terminals, but so far none of the public-sector employers I work with have announced reductions in the workforce.
Here in brief are significant events in the jurisdictions I represent:
City of Monroe: Our four contracts with the City expired December 2019. We ratified the Supervisors contract before it expired. On April 8, using PPE and social distancing, our Parks and Public Works members ratified a new three-year contract with raises ranging from 4.3 to 17.2 percent. These increases resulted from a collaborative wage study that we had negotiated into the previous contract. Negotiations for the Sergeants and Office-Clerical groups were interrupted because of the pandemic, but we plan to resume negotiations via Zoom this month.
City of Lake Stevens: A sunny day on April 9 prompted us to vote our contract outside while using PPE and social distancing. The new three-year agreement included an initial increase of 3 percent. Lake Stevens is one jurisdiction where our members have continued to work with no schedule modifications because of coronavirus.
Falck Northwest: I assisted Staff Director Chad Baker with negotiations on a first contract for the EMTs and Paramedics at Falck, a private-sector company. We used Zoom to finish out the negotiations.
The Seattle Times/Rotary Offset Press: The Seattle Times announced late last year that it intended to see its printing plant property in Bothell and relocate production at Rotary Offset Press, a commercial print shop owned by The Seattle Times Co. This change resulted in the layoff of 14 Loaders and the relocation of our members to facilities located in Kent and Lynnwood. All the Mailers now work out of two production locations in Kent. This prompted some members to quit because many of them lived north of Bothell. We were able to ratify a new contract for the Mailers which got them a 2 percent increase, the first pay increase since 2011.
At the same time, we organized the non-union production employees at Rotary Offset Press under a neutrality agreement signed with the Times. Using the Mailer contract as the template, we ratified a new contract for that group that took effect March 14.
Unfortunately, bargaining for a new contract for Single-Copy ground down just as the coronavirus crisis hit us. The Times, like all newspapers, has taken a severe hit on advertising revenue because of the “stay home, stay healthy” order. We do not have a date to resume Single-Copy bargaining at this time.
Upcoming Negotiations: The contracts with Edmonds, Highland Water District and Peninsula Trucking expire at the end of this year.
Grievances: The only COVID-related grievance was filed against the City of Edmonds for failure to correctly for last-minute schedule changes as required by the contract.