“We want a living wage” – Union workers to Renton city officials

Union 2170 speaks out about “unfair” contracts

Renton city employees are demanding a livable wage after months of negotiations with the city and union leaders.

At the Monday, May 20 council meeting, employees and some of their family members filed into the chamber and held up signs reading “2170 valued?”

Three employees addressed council at public comment.

Jayson Gallaway is an 11-year employee for Renton Public Works, and an officer for the local union, so he has a seat at the bargaining table.

He said the union is concerned its workforce is being devalued, and he can’t understand why that is.

“We provide services that are second to none and that’s been proven,” he said.

He also pointed out the economy is doing great, and Mayor Denis Law often remarks the city is doing great and union-members are doing good work.

Gallaway said he knows council appreciates their work, which he said is vital to public health and safety, but right now the best way to show appreciation is a fair contract.

Kristina Raabe works in administrative services department and IT. She said city negotiators told the union they weren’t authorized by city leadership to offer the cost of living increase. She said they just want to be treated fairly and equally.

“By refusing to consider a cost of living increase equal to the other city groups, the city is telling us we’re second class, that we’re not as valuable,” Raabe said.

Craig Pray is a water quality supervisor and said he thinks all the bargaining units should be treated the same, and as people retire it’s important to have competitive wages. He said staff in his division prevent things like the tainted drinking water or emergencies like the 2014 E. coli bacteria outbreak in Mercer Island.

Martin Luther King Labor, the umbrella company for labor organizations in King County, also showed support for the union when Deputy Executive Secretary Katie Garrow spoke at council.

“Being a public employee means you’ll never get rich,” Garrow said. “Workers trade the possibility of wealth for a career of meaning and stability.”

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2170 Union covers employees throughout the city, except for elected officials, management and supervisory positions, a few clerical non-union positions and those under the Renton Police Officer’s Guilds.

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