Association of Washington Assistant Attorneys General Local 5297
 

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is AWAAG-AFSCME Local 5297?

AWAAG/AFSCME was certified as a bargaining unit for eligible AAGs in September 2019. We negotiated our first contract in 2019 and it took effect on July 1, 2020. Most AAGs (including team leaders and section chiefs) and all Deputy Solicitors General are eligible to join, and we invite you to do so. We are stronger together!

Why is a union necessary for AAGs?

AAG salaries are lower than our public sector peers. According to a 2106 salary survey commissioned by the AGO, one "benchmark" level was 33% below market. The overall difference, based on all years of experience, was 18.4% below market compared to our public sector peers. Until our first contract, we had no predictable salary progression. We also experience high caseloads, particularly in the child welfare field. These issues led to low job satisfaction and high turn-over.

What have we accomplished through collective bargaining?

  • A seat at the table to advocate for ourselves and the work we do.
  • A salary grid, with predictable steps based on years of practice.
  • Clear rules and guidelines around discipline and discharge. Our 2021-2023 contract has a "just cause" provision.
  • A union-management communication committee that meets regularly to discuss issues and priorities of the membership, as they arise.
  • Guaranteed payment of bar dues and Continuing Legal Education.
  • The scope of bargaining is limited to wages, hours and working conditions. Healthcare costs are negotiated with all unions separately. AFSCME Council 28 has a representative on the PEBB which determines healthcare policy changes. AFSCME Council 28 also advocates strongly in the state legislature to maintain our retirement security.

What have other public sector attorneys accomplished through collective bargaining?

  • Wages – Our AAG peers in the Oregon Association of Justice Attorneys, affiliated with AFSCME Council 75, have negotiated a 2020 salary schedule that runs from $93,367 to $183,019. OAJA has achieved this impressive salary structure through nearly 20 years of collective bargaining.
  • Oregon AAGs also receive 5% pay when assigned higher level duties for 10 or more days.

If I join AWAAG, what am I agreeing to?

By joining, you agree to be represented by Local 5297 and to pay dues through payroll deduction. The agreement to pay dues auto renews each year unless you provide notice before renewal. If you change your job to an AGO position outside of the bargaining unit, you may ask that the automatic dues deductions stop. The dues help sustain AFSCME International, AFSCME Council 28, and AWAAG-AFSCME Local 5297.

How much are dues?

Dues are never more than 1.5% of gross pay, and are capped at a maximum of $99.60 per month (as of July 1, 2021). If you make more than $75,680 per year ($6306.67 per month), you pay the capped amount. The dues deductions are split between your two monthly paychecks. (The first deduction of the month may be more than the second.) The amount of dues is set in the Bylaws of WFSE which are adopted every two years by vote of elected representatives of the membership.

Why AFSCME Council 28?

In 2019, AWAAG signed an organizing and affiliation agreement with the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28. This enabled us to harness the power of 44,000 members to pass legislation allowing AAGs to collectively bargain. Council 28 helped us get certified as a bargaining unit, and helped us bargain our first contracts. We worked with them to get our first contract funded.

Becoming part of the ASFCME family is a logical choice. AFSCME Council 28 already represents most organized employees in Washington State agencies. There is a real advantage to becoming a part of a larger union. Our peers in the Oregon Association of Justice Attorneys have been very successful by affiliating with AFSCME Council 75. When 600 AAGs join 45,000 other state workers, it means real power when we are at the bargaining table with the Governor’s Office and OFM.

What does AG Bob Ferguson think about this?

Attorney General Ferguson and his management team publicly supported the legislation that granted us collective bargaining rights. We believe we share the same goals with management regarding salaries and AAG retention.

Where can I get more information?

There are AAGs in each division/worksite that can help answer any questions you may have. You can also email awaaginfo@gmail.com, or visit WFSE/AFSCME Council 28 at www.wfse.org.

How do I get involved?

There is a role for everyone, no matter how great or small, to help build a strong unified voice. We need “Division Captains” to help with organizing and outreach, and representing the union at the regional and state level. We also need your help with lobbying your state legislators so that they understand the important work you do.






Page Last Updated: Sep 29, 2021 (16:33:10)
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AWAAG Local 5297
PO Box 2134
Olympia, WA 98507
 

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