Commentary: Reality, collective bargaining collide

This editorial appeared in The (Tacoma) News Tribune.

Gov. Chris Gregoire's plan to plug a $5.7 billion budget gap with across-the-board pain has been called responsible, realistic and even courageous.

State workers now contend it's also illegal. The state's largest employee union is suing Gregoire, challenging her decision to skip pay raises for state employees. Other unions are expected to follow suit.

Gregoire had to see it coming. The Federation of State Employees is doing what unions do – fighting hard for its dues-paying members.

But this isn't just about rescuing workers' 2 percent raises from the budget heap. The federation is also seeking to further strengthen its bargaining position by getting a court to invalidate part of the law it helped pass.

State employee unions irked by the Legislature's record of balancing the state budget on their members' paychecks scored in 2002 with the passage of collective bargaining. No longer could state lawmakers tinker with state employee pay. They either accept the contracts as negotiated by the governor or reject them entirely.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Tacoma) News Tribune.