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Spokane County, city employees to picket over contract negotiations

The union hopes to raise awareness about the issue through the informational picketing event.
Credit: City of Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane County and City employees are holding an informational picket on Friday to raise awareness and pressure officials about how many of them have been working without a contract for over a year, according to the union.

The picket will be held on Friday, July 9 from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Spokane County Courthouse.

According to a press release, members of the union will speak out about being asked to work for months, some more than a year, without a contract and will demand that both County and City officials bargain in good faith and in accordance with state law. 

Chris Dugovich is the President and Executive Director of the Washington State Council of County and City Employees.   

“The commitment of union workers to the people of Spokane has not changed, but now—during a pandemic—a handful of special interest politicians are breaking the law to try and harm workers. It’s not only illegal, it’s unethical,” Dugovich said.

Dugovich said all the employees want is a fair process. 

However, in 2019 Spokane voters have approved a city law requiring collective bargaining transparency. Nearly 80% of the city passed the law. Transparency means the talks over union salaries and benefits must be open to public observation. 

Chris Cargill is the Eastern Washington director for Washington Policy Center in Spokane and said union leadership doesn’t want transparency and that is why there is no contract.

“It’s unfortunate and puzzling that local union bosses are trying to keep their negotiations secret. Even union workers have a right to know what’s being discussed and negotiated on their behalf. This isn’t just a request from the citizens of Spokane. It’s the law. Transparency is never a bad thing,” Cargill said.