Now Andrew Garber over at the Seattle Times reports Gov. Chris Gregoire is asking whether the Legislature is willing to vote down union contracts in order to avoid big cuts to the workforce:
"I have been honest with labor unions all the way along, in which I've said to them: 'you want pay increases. Would you really advocate that that be done at the expense of people's jobs? Because depending on whether the national economy turns or not, that may be the choice.'"
If she was saying raises and layoffs were a this-or-that trade back when the contracts were ratified, I didn't get the memo. I recall the line being more like, 'I think it's prudent. Well take it to the Legislature and see what they say.'
But the unions have recognized that things could change with the economy. The line taken by the Washington Federation of State Employees lately has been to wait until the March revenue forecast comes out.
"The issue of layoffs may arise and we will be there dealing with it when it arises. But the need to have layoffs has been mitigated by the steps shes already taken," said spokesman Tim Welch on Friday. "It's not that were being Polyanna-ish and saying there wont be layoffs, but we don think layoffs are a given."