It was a packed room at the Grays Harbor County Commissioner’s meeting yesterday as citizens gathered to show their support for unions, and their distaste for open public meetings between those unions and the county.
Jimmy Haun from Seattle was one of many who spoke during the public comment period. He said yesterday, “We strongly oppose the Freedom foundation’s push on their anti-union agenda.” He also reminded the council, “This was defeated in January of 2017.”
Commissioner Wes Cormier moved to approve the resolution that stated it would improve transparency by negotiating collective bargaining contracts in a manner open to the public. Failing to get a second in order to prompt a vote of the three-person board, the motion died. Similar attempts failed in the same manner in January of 2017 and in April of 2015.
Cormier said after the meeting, “There were some revelations about something that happened in one of our contracts that I felt that needed some sunlight.” He added that it wasn’t about the freedom foundation, “I don’t think this is like an alien proposal. You know, the State of Oregon does it, Idaho does it. For me, this is about transparency. It’s not about the Freedom Foundation, it’s not about anything other than; I ran [for office] on transparency and that means all corners of government.”
Commissioner Randy Ross, who last year said he was too new to the seat, explained why he didn’t support a vote this time around, “I’ve been in here in office a year and seven months I don’t think it would have made one wit of difference in those contract negotiations this time. But I know what human nature is like and I think that there are times when you need to have the doors closed so you can talk about issues.”
In 2015 then-Commissioner Frank Gordon also opposed a vote on the motion.
Commissioner Vickie Raines has been clear on all three attempts, “I’ve had it brought up three times and I’ve opposed it three times.”
Cormier said the entire issue is about adding transparency to one of the county’s largest budget items, salaries and benefits of union employees. But it was transparent again yesterday that he doesn’t have the support to open up the negotiations to the public.
Below is the entire public comment period, as led by Commission chair Randy Ross.