Tensions Rising Between Everett Mayor And City Labor Unions Over City Finances

January 21, 2021

Everett Government

Mayor Cassie Franklin, Photo credit City of Everett.

Last year Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin asked 13 community leaders to join a Fiscal Sustainability Advisory Committee. “I called together this stakeholder committee to explore our fiscal options and advise City leadership on ways we can address the very serious revenue challenges we face,” said Franklin. On December 2nd the committee issued their final report with two dozen recommendations on ways the City could deal with what has been called a structural deficit.

The budget outlook is bleak. Graphic from City of Everett finance department. Click to enlarge.

On January 14th Chris Dugovich, President and Executive Director Washington State Council of County and City Employees AFSCME, AFL-CIO sent a letter to Everett, Washington Mayor Cassie Franklin and all of the members of the Everett City Council in which he expressed surprise at the content of the committee’s final report. He wrote in part,
“I was surprised to read the content of “The Report of the Everett Fiscal Sustainability Advisory Committee” I have grown accustomed to seeing these types of documents and recommendations like removing Public Employees from their PERS Pension Plans from business groups but never from a Mayor appointed group. My surprise subsided when I saw the actual makeup of the group. It is nice that you put a student on the committee, but where is the member of Labor? It is inexcusable.”

You can click the link below to read the full letter sent to the Mayor and City Council.
Labor Letter on fiscal report

Today MyEverettNews.com received a copy of the response sent by Mayor Franklin to Mr. Dugovich. The Mayor wrote in part,

“I am very surprised by the tone and content of your letter. As I indicated earlier this year, I welcome an opportunity to meet with you. I am confident that if you and I met, we both would benefit. Some of the information in your letter is not correct and I would appreciate an opportunity to clarify this misinformation and have more discussion with you. I want to share with you some of the misinformation in your letter.”

1. I believe you misunderstood the recruitment process, purpose and role of the Fiscal Sustainability Advisory Committee. They acted independent from me and developed their recommendations without my input. I solicited business and community leaders with diverse backgrounds and experiences to help the city and elected officials review the city’s financial sustainability. The committee acknowledged in their report that “The Mayor and Council will need to prioritize where they focus their energies. More work is necessary to frame out the implementation and expected results of our recommendations and select the most promising.” I am in the process of reviewing the report
recommendations. Next steps will include determining with city council which recommendations the city will pursue and the timeframes.

2. You indicated that I am advocating a legislative change for a 401K contributory plan versus the PERS Defined Benefit Plan. This is a false and unfair accusation, as is your claim that I wish to “dominate and lower wages and benefits.” I have been a strong supporter of fair and competitive compensation for all of our employees.

3. You also stated that employees were placed on unpaid furlough, but that was not the case. Although I had to make the very difficult decision to furlough employees, I made an effort to help them through these challenging circumstances.

You can click the link below to see the full letter sent by the Mayor to Mr. Dugovich.
Mayor Response to Dugovich. PDF 1.20.20

MyEverettNews.com will continue to follow the work of City of Everett elected officials as they address the financial condition of the city.

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About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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