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Council recognizes work of County employees


Declares fourth Monday in March “Public Employee Appreciation Day” in King County


The Metropolitan King County Council today recognized the work and the sacrifice of the 13,000 people employed by King County with its unanimous adoption of “Public Employee Appreciation Day” in King County.

“The motion and proclamation we did today shows our appreciation for the work public employees carry out every day of the year and a recognition of the sacrifices our employees make to ensure services continue to be delivered in this economic crisis,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “I will continue to stand with public employees and their unions to ensure they receive the respect they deserve as the County’s most important asset. The best way to show that respect is to stand in support of their collective bargaining rights and the right to organize as well as ensuring that our employees have a fair, living wage and good benefits.”

“King County workers are on the ‘frontlines’ for keeping people safe and healthy, responding to citizen questions and concerns, and getting people to their destinations on transit,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “During this Great Economic Recession, King County employees have made significant personal sacrifices to keep delivering services people need despite steep declines in public revenues. Nationally, those very public employees who teach our children and care for our elderly are under assault, but here in King County we want to set a tone of appreciation for workers who provide the public with the services they need and require.”

“The sacrifices of more than 90 percent of all King County employees last year allowed us to save vital County programs from being cut from our budget,” said Julia Patterson, Chair of the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. “Each of these employees rose to the challenge of doing their share to preserve services to the public, and I am proud to support this motion that continues to honor these sacrifices.”

The adopted motion acknowledges the essential public services provided by public employees at all levels of government. It recognizes those employees range from police and firefighters, to doctors and nurses, to teachers and social workers. The motion states that many public employees are represented by unions and the Council supports the right of unions to bargain collectively for its members.

“I am proud to support the fundamental right of public employees to bargain collectively,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson. “Our success in King County of partnering with union members to save taxpayer dollars, protect important public services, and preserve jobs is an example of why it is better to have a cooperative – as opposed to contentious – working relationship with represented public employees.”

“Sadly it has become commonplace to vilify our public employees. This vilification often means we forget the important work they do to keep all our lives running safely and smoothly. But perhaps more importantly, it often results in many forgetting the sacrifices King County employees have made during the Great Recession,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott. “I am proud to stand with our public employees.”

For County employees, the motion highlights the fact that the majority of the County’s union employees volunteered to forego cost-of-living-adjustments as part of the adopted 2011 King County Budget to ensure that services would not be cut.

The adopted motion declares that the fourth Monday in March will be recognized as “Public Employee Appreciation Day.” Immediately after the adoption of the motion, Councilmembers presented the recognition to Dustin Frederick, Co-Chair of the King County Labor Coalition and David Freiboth, Executive Secretary of the Martin Luther King County, Jr. Labor Council.


WHEREAS, public employees at all levels of government provide essential services, without which the daily life known to residents of King County will be greatly diminished; and

WHEREAS, public employees include doctors, nurses, firefighters, teachers, police, social workers, laborers, and those in many other professions; and

WHEREAS, public employees provide critical services that are generally not profitable for the private sector to provide, such as health care to individuals who would not be able to afford it; and

WHEREAS, public employees throughout the nation and in King County have lost their jobs, voluntarily accepted reduced wages or furloughs, as well as other cost saving measures, to maintain services for the public during this "Great Recession”; and

WHEREAS, to maintain service levels for the public, over 13,000 King County public employees have made sacrifices that include unpaid furlough days in 2009 and 2010, and unpaid furlough days as well as no cost of living adjustment in 2011; and

WHEREAS, despite these sacrifices made by employees, the County had to eliminate over 600 jobs in 2010 and 2011 to balance the budget; and

WHEREAS, in recognition of the hard work and value contributed by public employees to the lives of residents throughout King County, every fourth Monday in March shall henceforth be Public Employee Appreciation Day in King County;

NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, proclaim March 28, 2011, as the first


in King County and call on all county residents to recognize the benefits they receive in their daily life from the visible as well as behind-the-scenes work of public employees.

DATED this twenty-eighth day of March, 2011.

Councilmembers are joined by (l) David Freiboth, Executive Secretary of the Martin Luther King County, Jr. Labor Council and (r) Dustin Frederick, Co-Chair of the King County Labor Coalition, after the Council declared the fourth Monday in March “Public Employee Appreciation Day” in King County.
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