OLYMPIA - About 50 people protested recently announced job cuts Friday in downtown Olympia, then marched to the state Capitol to share their concerns with Gov. Chris Gregoire's office about the cuts by the Health and Recovery Services Administration, a division of the state Department of Social and Health Services.
On Thursday, HRSA officials said they were eliminating 160 positions in the state Medicaid program; 140 of those cuts will come via layoffs. Friday’s rally, which began about noon in front of HRSA’s Cherry Street Plaza, included employees who lost their jobs and union representatives from the Washington Federation of State Employees, said Laura Reisdorph, a public-affairs assistant for the federation.
After the noon gathering, the picketers marched down Eighth Avenue to Capitol Way, then turned south toward the Capitol Campus. Once there, they were met on the steps of the state Legislative Building by Democratic state Sen. Karen Fraser, then ended their march at Gregoire’s office.
Gregoire was in Tacoma and Seattle on Friday; the group was met by communications director Cory Curtis, he said.
Curtis said he listened to the group for about 30 minutes and acknowledged their concerns. He said he planned to share those concerns with the governor. Some picketers also filled out comment cards and left them at the office, Curtis said.
More activity is planned today and Sunday to help restore those jobs, positions that help generate “hundreds of millions” in revenue for the state, federation executive director Greg Devereux said.
Workers directly affected by the job cuts plan to lobby lawmakers this weekend in an effort to work toward restoration of the state Medicaid program, he said.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403