This week, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members at the Department of Safety ratified a new sub-unit agreement. Under the Executive Branch Master Contract, sub-unit bargaining teams participate in agency-level negotiations on worksite-specific issues.
Jim Kowalik, the president of Chapter 40 and a member of the sub-unit bargaining team, said it was a slow process, and he came away with ideas on how to improve the process next time. He said they weren’t able to resolve all issues, but they’ll continue to work on them.
“We’re happy with the results of the ratification vote, but there are issues to be brought forward that we thought would be easily solved,” he said. “We’ll be resubmitting those in the next round of negotiations.”
Kowalik said two key things were accomplished in this round of negotiations.
“We were able to combine some of the previous work units that were part of Chapter 23, which was blended into Chapter 40, to make things less confusing,” he said. The other part that was accomplished, Kowalik said, was bringing more workers at the DMV up to a 40-hour work week, from a 37.5-hour week.
He said that negotiation sessions end up being a learning experience for both sides, and said experience and institutional knowledge are helpful in moving the process along quickly.
“It’s important when you select the teams that you find people who have the experience behind them, and we hope the state does the same,” Kowalik said.
Kowalik said that Chapter 40 was continuing to make progress toward incorporating all members, noting that when Chapter 23 was folded in, they went from around 90 members to around 450.
“New members are volunteering to take on new organizational efforts, and we’re going to proceed in that direction so we can make sure we best represent all workers,” Kowalik said.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that all DMV workers were moved to a 40-hour work week. Only some workers were moved to a 40-hour week.