Will media support I-1608’s quest for more open government?

By ERIN SHANNON  | 
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Mar 7, 2018

Initiative 1608 has been filed to increase the transparency of collective bargaining negotiations between government unions and state and local public employers.  

In a nutshell, I-1608 would make collective bargaining sessions between government and public employee unions open for public observation and recording, make bargaining proposals public, and establish an online library of public collective bargaining agreements.

Simply put, I-1608 would inject a healthy dose of much needed transparency into the collective bargaining process.

In any political campaign, endorsements and editorials from newspapers’ editorial boards are coveted.  Such editorials, which represent the institutional voice of the newspaper, reach thousands of engaged voters and help shape how they view an issue. In fact, research shows the editorial page is one of the most read in a newspaper.  So earning an editorial page endorsement is typically considered a tremendous coup for a campaign.

Over the years there have been numerous editorials published by newspaper editorial boards in support of opening up public employee collective bargaining negotiations—with many of those papers doing so on multiple occasions.  For your reading pleasure, here are a few of them:

Tri-City Herald: “State labor negotiations should be open to public scrutiny” (7/15/14)

Tri-City Herald: “Our Voice: State labor negotiations need revamping” (5/22/16)

Tri-City Herald: “Our Voice: Kennewick should support transparency” (4/20/17)

The Seattle Times: “Open state negotiations with unions to public view” (8/11/14)

The Seattle Times: More transparency needed in state contract negotiations” (6/13/16)

The News Tribune: “Agencies invite public to watch contract negotiations” (1/28/17)

The News Tribune: “Celebrate the Sunshine” (3/11/17)

Union-Bulletin: “Open collective bargaining makes sense” (1/2/18)

The Spokesman Review: “Any progress in disclosure laws worthy” (1/31/14)

The Spokesman-Review: “News good, bad on open government front in Olympia” (5/14/2015)

The Spokesman-Review: “Open up public employee bargaining” (5/25/16)

The Spokesman-Review: “Lincoln County leads way on government transparency” (9/18/16)

The Spokesman-Review: “Ruling paves way for open bargaining” (1/13/2017)

The Columbian: “Shine Light on Negotiations” (7/20/14)

The Columbian: “Madore Gets it Right” (3/22/15)

The Columbian: “Sunshine, not Secrecy” (5/17/15)

The Columbian: “Open the Doors” (5/27/16)

The Olympian: “Opening up jail negotiations would inform public” (6/17/14)


The concept of shining the light on the contract negotiations of government workers, who are, after all, funded by taxpayer dollars, is clearly a popular one with media. Let's hope it proves just as popular with voters.