WA APCO-NENA Position on Proposed SB 5808

WA APCO-NENA Position on Proposed SB 5808

SB 5808 adds language to RCW 41.56.030 making the definition of “Uniformed personnel” to include “public safety telecommunicators, as defined in RCW 38.60.020.” This makes the process for managing bargaining contract negotiations for PSTs fall under Uniformed personnel and adds interest arbitration as the final determination in negotiating disputes.

WA APCO-NENA members vary from PSTs, technicians, dispatch supervisors, commercial members, PSAP managers/directors, and others. Our Chapter’s mission is to join together as public safety communication professionals to lead, learn and leverage our influence for the benefit of our profession, the public safety workforce, and the public we serve.

We know that the variety of our membership and the lenses each of us brings to our Chapter has many benefits. While the Chapter stands for honest and open dialogues about critical issues and strongly pushes for consensus, a variety of interests are associated with this legislation.  Coupled with the fact that folks on each side of the issue have other avenues to pursue their support or dissent of this legislation, the executive board has determined the Chapter will remain neutral on this issue.

WA APCO/NENA is remaining neutral on this proposed legislation for the following reasons:

We have a decidedly polarized and mixed opinion amongst the membership of WA APCO/NENA on this legislation.

  1. We believe some telecommunicators, as might some agencies, would support this bill.
  2. We believe some directors and agencies who ensure telecommunicator membership in WA APCO-NENA will oppose this legislation, as might some telecommunicators.
  3. We risk alienating important allies with whom we have worked very hard to build relationships.  If we support this legislation, we risk alienating Cities and Counties, WASPC, other public safety entities, and the body of directors and PSAP managers.  If we oppose this legislation, we risk alienating labor groups and telecommunicators.
  4. We expect that directors and managers may be directed by their legislative bodies on the position they will need to take if they want to be politically engaged. This direction could be either pro or anti and could create division as many of us are in WA APCO-NENA.
  5. While WA APCO-NENA intends to remain neutral, individual telecommunicators, directors, managers, and legislative bodies that have an interest in 9-1-1 can testify with either their support, neutrality, or opposition to this bill without needlessly bringing our association into the discussion with the associated political exposure it would give our organization.

There are many valid reasons to form an opinion about this legislation and our organization holds many opinions. It is prudent to step back and allow those individuals and entities with the most to gain/lose to engage in the political discussions necessary to the process.  WA APCO-NENA does not benefit as an organization by weighing in on the discussions as a political entity.