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Charter Amendment No. 3
Amendment of Section 890 and New Section 897 – Collective Bargaining

Shall the King County Charter be amended to allow the King County Sheriff to serve as the county’s collective bargaining agent for all department of public safety issues except for compensation and benefits, which would continue to be bargained by the county executive, as provided in Ordinance No. 16900?



Section 890 of the King County Charter designates the county executive as the county’s agent for collective bargaining with county employees covered by the county personnel system. The executive’s authority for collective bargaining covers all issues, including those related to wages, hours, benefits, and working conditions. An agreement reached as a result of negotiations between the executive and employees must be adopted by the county council by ordinance to be effective.

If adopted, Charter Amendment No. 3 would designate the King County sheriff as the county’s agent for collective bargaining with department of public safety employees on all issues for these employees except compensation and benefits, which would continue to be bargained by the executive. Currently, the sheriff can provide input, but has no authority over collective bargaining for these employees.


In 1996, King County citizens voted to make the Sheriff an independently elected official. The Charter leaves the King County Executive with authority to bargain with unions representing Sheriff’s Office employees. It defies common sense for someone outside of the Sheriff's Office to have authority over management rights and working conditions of sheriff’s employees without detailed law enforcement knowledge or direct accountability to the voters.

This Charter amendment aligns the accountability the voters intended with authority over management rights and working conditions, including matters such as limiting excessive overtime, imposing discipline for misconduct, and making job assignments. The County Executive would retain bargaining authority over wages and benefits.

The amendment is supported unanimously by the independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Sheriff’s Office management and endorsed by two former King County Executives (Randy Revelle and Gary Locke), The Seattle Times, The Seattle PI, and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. This bargaining structure has been used effectively for many years in the King County Prosecutor’s Office and Superior/District Courts, as well as the majority of Sheriffs’ Offices around the state.

Vote “YES” on Charter Amendment #3 to make the Sheriff’s Office independent and accountable to King County voters.

The current system is simple, and it works well: The County Executive negotiates all aspects of public safety labor contracts. This amendment unnecessarily complicates the negotiation process by artificially splitting bargaining authority between the Sheriff and the County Executive.

Compensation, benefits, and working conditions are a package deal. Sadly, the Amendment does not define the boundary between working conditions and compensation & benefits. Defining that boundary could be a difficult problem. At a minimum, it will require collaboration between the Sheriff and the County Executive—collaboration which may or may not exist. And if that collaboration exists, there is no reason why the Sheriff cannot have input to the negotiations conducted under the current system.

How would this amendment affect collective bargaining between the county and unions such as the King County Police Officers Guild? There is no clear answer. Why make this change, when the consequences are largely unknown?

This amendment is about changing collective bargaining. Although accountability and authority within the county government will be shifted, the primary question is: how will this amendment affect collective bargaining for public safety labor issues? If you do not know the answer to that question, how can you vote for it?

The collective bargaining system does not give the Sheriff the ability to deploy crime-fighting resources in the most effective ways to protect the public’s safety. The charter amendment requires the King County Executive and the Sheriff to consult and collaborate on collective bargaining. Other elected officials – the Prosecutor and county judges – have the right to negotiate working conditions for their employees. Let the Sheriff do the job we elected her to do.

Statement submitted by: Sue Rahr, Randy Revelle and John Jensen

This amendment has NOT BEEN ENDORSDED by any of the politicians, newspapers, etc. claimed by the proponents. The so-called “independent” blue ribbon panel was requested by the Sheriff, and included zero representation by the affected unions.

Authority shifted to the Sheriff would be taken from the County Executive. This amendment would make the Executive LESS ACCOUNTABLE TO VOTERS.

Proponents offer NO EXPLANATION of its effects on collective bargaining. Vote “NO” on this poorly crafted amendment.

Statement submitted by: Mark P. Baldwin

Simple majority (King County Charter Section 800 and Washington Constitution Article X, Section 4)

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TTY: Relay 711

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