Evergreen, federation union agree to 3 percent pay hikes in 2015, 1 percent in 2016

The Washington Federation of State Employees said it reached contract agreements for classified employee groups at The Evergreen State College and Western Washington University on Tuesday. Both agreements still require ratification by workers but each provides 3 percent cost-of-living pay adjustments in July 2015 and another 1 percent in July 2016 - and an automatic upward adjustment if workers in state general-government agencies secure larger raises than that.

So the two smaller contracts may not signal what is in store for state workers, who received less generous pay hikes two years ago than many college workers.

Gov. Jay Inslee has said state workers and K-12 teachers deserve a pay adjustment after six years without cost of living adjustments, and his budget director has said only “modest” raises are possible.

The college contract talks were carried out with university leaders, whereas more than two dozen state worker contracts are bargained with Inslee’s labor relations office. About 307 workers at Evergreen and 444 at Western Washington are affected.

The biggest state labor-employee contract is with WFSE’s general government bargaining unit, which went back to the table with Inslee’s team Tuesday. They adjourned in the early evening without agreement but were scheduled to resume talks Wednesday morning near the Capitol.

Parties are working to secure agreements on all of the contracts that can be ratified by workers by Oct. 1, the soft deadline for getting contract costs included in Inslee’s budget request to the Legislature for 2015-17.

Evergreen’s agreement includes a wage reopener provision, according to the union, that could be triggered by a recovery of enrollments.

All of the contracts are subject to funding by the Legislature.