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Sunday Spin: Inslee probably not giving away the store

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee raised eyebrows, and some blood pressures, among some legislative Republicans and other conservatives last week with comments about state worker salaries on the eve of contract talks.

“It’s just clear to me that it’s unacceptable state employees have gone so long without a general pay increase,” he was quoted as telling members of the Washington Federation of State Employees.

Some suggested he was making a concession on wages before contract talks even started. Perhaps they would have liked him to suggest workers should get ready to swallow pay cuts or expect to be replaced by robots. . . 

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Meridian declares impasse in teacher talks, imposes contract terms

The Meridian School District – the state’s largest – declared an impasse today in its negotiations with its local teachers union, reports Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News, ending negotiations for the upcoming school year and issuing contracts based on the district’s last best offer; you can read Richert’s full report here.

Though legislation requiring school districts to unilaterally impose contract terms if agreement isn’t reached by a June deadline was defeated in this year’s legislative session, other legislation set a July 1 deadline for issuing contracts, and Richert reports that an Idaho attorney general’s opinion says if school districts reach that deadline and declare an impasse, they can impose terms. They weren’t required to, however; they could issue contracts today without a master agreement in place, and continue negotiating.

Meanwhile, Idaho Statesman reporter Bill Roberts reports that Meridian is the only district in the state to impose terms in this manner; other districts that have continued negotiating say the law's not clear that they can do that. You can read his full report here.