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King County
Executive Office

Ron Sims, King County Executive 701 Fifth Ave. Suite 3210 Seattle, WA 98104 Phone: 206-296-4040 Fax: 206-296-0194 TTY Relay: 711
Image: King County Exeutive Ron Sims, News Release

Oct. 27, 2008

Sims and union coalition reach tentative agreement on county budget

Unions recommend ratification of plan to shut down most of county government for 10 days

Ron SimsAll King County employees, with the exception of essential safety and transit staff, would take ten days unpaid furlough in 2009 under the terms of an historic agreement reached today with the King County Union Coalition to help with the unprecedented $93.4 million 2009 budget deficit.

Executive Ron Sims thanked the Coalition for their desire to be part of a budget solution and their recommendation to the rank and file of 15 unions to approve the plan that will save $10.1 million next year.

Executive Sims praised Coalition leaders for engaging in unprecedented negotiations to offset spiraling county costs with reductions in employee hours of work. Nationally, it is believed that few, if any unions have willing agreed to unpaid furloughs for a government jurisdiction of our size and complexity.

“This tentative agreement is an act of compassion and strong leadership on the part of the Union Coalition leaders and will be a genuine sacrifice by our employees,” said Executive Sims. “Without these furloughs we would be faced with cutting another $10.1 million in essential services resulting in more layoffs.”

“I commend Coalition leadership for their flexibility and willingness to sit at the table and consider an option for helping to solve the county’s budget deficit during this unprecedented worldwide economic downturn,” Sims said.

The proposed furlough days fall next to existing 2009 holidays or weekends and were strategically and specifically chosen by Union Coalition leaders.  Those days tend to be the slowest days in the county with the fewest phone calls and requests for service. The agreed-to furlough dates are:

Friday, Jan. 2, 2009
Friday, Feb. 13, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Friday, Sept. 4, 2009
Monday, Oct. 12, 2009
Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009
Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009

All union employees will receive a cost-of-living-raise of 4.88% as required by their union contracts. Non-represented county employees will receive the same 4.88% cost-of-living raises as union employees, which is the traditional county practice.

Sims had identified $13 million in cuts in employee costs in his proposed 2009 budget and had been working with unions to negotiate what form those cuts would take. Separately elected leaders will review the proposal and the Metropolitan King County Council will have the final say on the agreement if ratified by the rank and file. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg expressed his strong support for the plan to Executive Sims.

The State of Maryland; Chicago, Illinois; Toledo, Ohio; Santa Barbara County and Sacramento, California, are among numerous state and local governments nationwide that are considering or have announced plans to balance their budgets with unpaid employee furloughs, thus reducing the number of employee layoffs and service cuts.

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  Updated: March 17, 2010