House Republican transportation lead Rep. Andrew Barkis reacts to the state employees terminated due to the fallout from Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandates

Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, released the following statement on the state employees terminated on Monday. Oct. 18 because of Gov. Jay Inslee's COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

“It's a devastating time, as approximately 1,900 hard-working Washington state employees are no longer employed due to the fallout of standing up for their personal medical decisions and rights. I share the concerns of many as we start to see the impact of the actual positions lost and the inability to 'just replace' everyone who was terminated, or vacated their job.

“As the numbers continue to be calculated – with the anticipation of the total numbers increasing as the status of exemptions is determined – we are assessing what the loss of these state employees will have on public services.

“The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is looking at a potential 12% hit to their workforce. They already have a massive crisis with the cancellation of many ferry trips due to a lack of employees. With a shortage of maintenance workers, they are also up against a new hurdle with the long-term closures of several rest areas along I-5. What about the town of Goldendale that lost 100% of the workers in their WSDOT office that services the community, their roadways, and other transportation services? With winter approaching, it's incredibly troubling to know that many of our snowplow drivers are included in WSDOT's reduction. These drivers keep our roadways clear and safe and ensure goods, services, fuel, and food are delivered to every community throughout Washington state. Our inability to plow snow will result in exacerbating the supply chain issues we're already experiencing.

“In a time when our public safety professionals are already stretched thin and held to unbelievably high standards, the loss of even one state patrol trooper is detrimental. We've lost over a hundred dedicated troopers, sergeants, and other personnel because of no fault of their own. When this is said and done, the Washington State Patrol's (WSP) workforce could be reduced by 13%. These losses will hit taxpayers the most – not only because their streets and communities will be less safe but because of the cost already paid to hire, train, and put these troopers on the street. We cannot replace the costs already incurred – that includes the monetary costs but also the costs of well-trained, well-respected troopers, and decades worth of experience that is now gone.

“The governor's actions have consequences. Rather than working together with the Legislative branch to find real solutions that provide state employees with choices and options – other than being terminated from their jobs – the governor continues to make decisions all by himself. Now people have lost their livelihoods and abilities to provide for their families.

“The combination of all the personnel and positions lost is unacceptable. I will continue to advocate for actions that will reverse the decisions made by the governor and allow for the rehiring of critical employees. I stand ready to work with my fellow transportation leaders to address this problem.”


Washington State House Republican Communications