Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018
 
search SGN
Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018
click to go to click to visit advertiser's website


 

 

Speakeasy Speed Test

Cost of the
War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
 

 

click to go to advertisers website
 
County Council saves equal benefits coordinator
County Council saves equal benefits coordinator
by Mike Andrew - SGN Contributing Writer

The King County Council passed a budget Monday, November 24, including funding for the County's equal benefits coordinator. The position was to be eliminated in the budget proposed by King County Executive Ron Sims in October this year.

The equal benefits coordinator is the county official charged with ensuring compliance with the county's Equal Benefits Ordinance (EBO). Passed in 2004, the EBO requires businesses that contract with King County to offer the same benefits to domestic partners of their employees as they do to married spouses. Modeled on a similar ordinance passed in San Francisco in 1996, King County's ordinance allows LGBT workers to provide medical, dental, and vision care, pensions, and other benefits for their partners, even though same-sex marriages are not permitted under Washington state law.

According to Christine Lange, County Department of Executive Services communications manager, 3,221 domestic partners are now covered under the EBO. For purposes of comparison, 663 domestic partners of King County employees currently receive benefits.

Reached by SGN for comment, current Equal Benefits Coordinator Dale Sirek said, "I haven't heard anything official yet. I don't know if the Council did strike the budget cut, and I don't know if the executive plans to sign the budget. If anything is finalized, it hasn't trickled down to me yet, which is nerve-wracking."

"I'm just being very careful," Sirek continued. "I was hoping to have something to be thankful for before Thanksgiving. When I'm notified officially I'll either be very delighted or I'll be down the road kicking rocks."

County Councilmember and Budget Committee Chair Larry Phillips confirmed to SGN that funding for the position was restored at a Council "budget striker" meeting on Thursday, November 20. "It's been the most difficult budget process I've ever seen, but we did fund that position." Phillips said.

An annual County budget is proposed by the county executive. The County Council then typically holds a series of public hearings and committee meetings, and finalizes the budget in one or more "budget striker" meetings, where Council members have an opportunity to strike line items or budget cuts. The Council then adopts the budget in a formal vote as it did Monday.

County Council President Julia Patterson told SGN that funding for the position "was not a contentious issue, but this year a program didn't have to be contentious to be cut. A lot of worthy programs and positions were lost in this year's budget."

"I pressed very hard to have the position restored," Patterson told SGN. "Social justice and equity issues should be a big part of how the County operates. I think it speaks volumes about the values of the Council and our strong commitment to social justice."

Carolyn Duncan, communications director for the county executive's office, told SGN that "it is the executive's intention to sign the budget passed by the Council."

LGBT activists had expressed concern that lacking active oversight by a County official, many LGBT working people would be denied domestic partnership benefits to which they were entitled under the EBO.

The Martin Luther King County Labor Council (MLKCLC) unanimously passed a resolution presented by Pride At Work opposing elimination of the coordinator position. The MLKCLC represents about 150 union locals and other labor organizations in King County. Pride At Work is an LGBT labor organization and an affiliate of the MLKCLC. Pride At Work includes members of both AFL-CIO and Change To Win unions, as well as non-union allies.

King County reported a budget shortfall of more than $93 million for 2009, and deep cuts were made in many areas. In his October 13 budget speech to the King County Council, County Executive Ron Sims announced what he called a "lifeboat strategy" funding only what he considered the most essential services, and those at the lowest possible levels.

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog


: http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2008

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News