Union files grievance over newspaper stories

A union representing more than 100 Island County employees has filed a grievance over budget-related news reported in the Whidbey News-Times, according to county Human Resource Director Larry Larson.

Larson said that representatives with Local 1845 were under the impression that county commissioners provided the newspaper with a press release about budget cuts and layoffs before informing the union.

“They think we violated a contract in some way,” Larson said.

The truth, as Larson pointed out, is that the News-Times only reported on decisions that were made by commissioners at a series of open public meetings, which were open to union officials and everyone else.

Many of the stories were posted on the Web site,, immediately following the meetings.

The newspaper only received one press release from the county commissioners related to the budget cuts. The press release, dated April 8, wasn’t published because it only contained information that had already been reported.

The commissioners had obvious difficulty in finding $2 million to cut from the budget during the meetings and ended up scheduling two last-minute sessions to make final decisions. In the end, they cut 22 positions through attrition and layoffs.

“The commissioners did a very good job of keeping everyone informed,” Larson said. “It may have made in more difficult, but I think it was a good process.”

Larson said he’s in the process of completing paperwork for the layoffs, which will be effective June 1.

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