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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Unionized Washington State Employees To Rally For Higher Pay

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Austin Jenkins
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Northwest News Network
Imelda Ang works for the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.

Unionized Washington state employees want a pay raise. They plan to rally Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The unions representing state employees point to a recent salary survey that shows 99 percent of state job classes pay below market rate. State workers did get a nearly 5 percent pay hike in their last contract, but they want a more significant bump in their next two-year deal. Bargaining is currently underway.

Imelda Ang sits on the bargaining team for the 32,000-member Washington Federation of State Employees. She knows the state is already under court order to fully fund public schools.

“School kids or state employees -- it’s a delicate balance, isn’t it?” Any said. “Because a majority of state employees who live in this community do have children that are going into the state school system and we want them to have a great education. But I think we can do it.”

The governor’s office negotiates state labor contracts. The legislature can only vote yay or nay to fund them.