By Holden Parrish
Idaho State Journal
BOISE - Some 30 state employees aired grievances and suggestions
to Idaho lawmakers this week.
Assembling near the historical furniture on the fourth floor
of the state Capitol, the workers, all members of the southern
Idaho division of the Service Employees International Union,
spoke to representatives and senators alike.
"The purpose of the meeting was to lobby legislators
about state workers' issues, such as pay and benefits, and
to better educate those people about what the issues are,"
said Andrew Hanhardt, president of the union's Local 687 chapter.
Included among the 30 were representatives from the Idaho
Department of Transportation, the Idaho Department of Health
and Welfare, the Industrial Commission, Boise State University
and the Central District Health Department.
Hanhardt said the state workers were able to make their positions
clear on a number of issues, including a possible pay raise.
In an address last week, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne recommended
a 2 percent merit-based increase. Agency directors and supervisors
would determine who would receive a raise.
Hanhardt said union members favored an across-the-board wage
increase rather than a discretionary increase because the
average worker has not received a raise in nearly three years,
while others make the same today they made four or five years
"Many, many state employees have met their part of the
bargain," Hanhardt said. "But they might not see
any of that money if a discretionary increase is awarded."
Hanhardt said his lack of faith in a discretionary distribution
arises from Idaho's existing employee review system, which
judges state workers by simply whether they pass or fail the
"There's no way to tell whether you're an exceptional
employee or a non-exceptional employee. It's just pass or
fail," Hanhardt said.
The 30 state employees present endorsed the Division of Human
Resources' recommendation for a 6.8 percent raise, not the
2 percent suggested by Kempthorne.
"The agencies have the money," Hanhardt said. "It's
whether or not they have a willingness or directive to do
Hanhardt said paying state employees more would save money
on training and hiring.
"The state of Idaho is spending a lot of money to train
people. We train them and other states hire them away,"
he said. "If we stop training them, what sort of work
force are we going to have?"