The Stand

Thursday, July 25 WSLC Convention coverage

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VANCOUVER (July 25, 2013) — Following is the live blogging from Thursday’s session of the 2013 Washington State Labor Council convention.


(Noon — July 25, 2013) — Celeste Drake, AFL-CIO Trade and Globalization Specialist, shared some disturbing information about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. She said this “trade agreement” — which actually has more to do with deregulating global industries than with actual trade — would be like NAFTA on steroids in terms of the harm in would cause workers and the jobs it would cost the U.S.

Leslie Liddle of the Alliance for Retired Americans discussed the importance of protecting Social Security and Medicare from proposed cuts and urged delegates to get involved in the ARA.


(11:45 a.m.) — Delegates gave a hero’s welcome to state Sen. Nathan Schlicher (D-Gig Harbor) who faces a special election this fall to retain his State Senate seat. An emergency room physician who sought public office to improve access to affordable health care, Schlicher earned a 100% labor voting record in the 2013 legislative session. His opponent, Rep. Jan Angel (R-Bremerton), is the State Chairwoman for the notorious right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is pushing right-to-work (for less) legislation across the nation.

Sen. Nathan Schlicher gets a rousing ovation from convention delegates.

Sen. Nathan Schlicher gets a rousing ovation from convention delegates.


(11:30 a.m.) — The political action staff of the Washington State Labor Council presented its annual Power to the People Award for outstanding political volunteerism and advocacy. But this year, it took the unprecedented step of recognizing two organizations, both of which mobilized hundreds of volunteers to do thousands of shifts on the WSLC’s Labor Neighbor member-to-member election program. The two 2013 Power to the People Awards went to the Washington federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28, and the Laborers International Union of North America.


(11:15 a.m.) — Two senior Vice Presidents of the Washington State Labor Council were honored with 2013 Working Class Hero awards for their decades of service on behalf of the WSLC, their union organizations and their communities. They were Don Houtchens of USW and Patty Rose of the Pierce County Central Labor Council.

At left, WSLC President Jeff Johnson presents USW's Don Houtchens with his award. At right, WSLC Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson presents the award to PCCLC's Patty Rose.

At left, WSLC President Jeff Johnson presents USW’s Don Houtchens with the award. At right, WSLC Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson presents the award to PCCLC’s Patty Rose.


(11 a.m.) — Another panel discussed the Affordable Care Act, where its implementation stands and what needs to be fixed so corporations don’t exploit loopholes to deny coverage to their employees, passing those costs on to the rest of us.

Sara Flocks of the California Labor Federation asked delegates if they want to subsidize health care coverage for Walmart. As you might expect, hundreds of people forcefully responded — paraphrasing here — that isn’t such a great idea. Flocks described proposed legislation in her state to close the loophole that allows Walmart and similar employers to avoid their responsibilities to their employees under the ACA, and she urged that it be approved across the nation, including here in Washington state.

Flocks was joined by two distinguished guests from Vermont, which recently approved a single-payer health care system: Vermont Worker Center President Mary Gerisch and Vermont AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Travae Leyshon.


(10:30 a.m.) — A panel of speakers just discussed the importance and status of comprehensive immigration reform in Congress: Lee Newgent of the Seattle Building and Constructive Trades Council, Toby Guevin of OneAmerica, Sharon Maeda of 21 Progress, and DREAMer Diane Ramirez, a student at Clark College who is the first in her immigrant family to go to college.

Delegates also got an inspirational speech from Darren Phelps, National Executive Director of Pride at Work. He congratulated organized labor in Washington state for its role in helping champion marriage equality and for fighting for the workplace rights of their Union Brothers and Sisters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, reminding delegates: “An injury to one is an injury to all!”


(10:15 a.m.) — Tom Wroblewski, President of Machinists District 751, was presented the individual 2013 Mother Jones Award for outstanding advocacy for Washington’s working families. His leadership role in securing 737 MAX work here in Washington state was acknowledged and he, in turn, thanked IAM 751 members and staff for proving every day that they are the best aerospace workforce in the world.

IAM 751 President Tom Wroblewski receives the 2013 Mother Jones Award from WSLC Vice President Bob Guenther on Thursday.

IAM 751 President Tom Wroblewski receives the 2013 Mother Jones Award from WSLC Vice President Bob Guenther on Thursday.


(10 a.m.) — In his opening speech, Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson delivered a powerful call to action for delegates to join with community partners to address wealth inequality in America. He acknowledged that organized labor doesn’t have the power to do this alone, but by “Building Bridges” (the convention theme) with our community partners and like-minded groups and individuals, we have the power to change America.

If we are to give real voice to working people, then we must build true bridges with our strategic community partners. We must create partnerships based on a common analysis of the problems we share, and a common vision and shared values that support policies based on this common analysis — policies which will strengthen our democracy and look from the middle out not the top down.

WSLC President Jeff Johnson delivers his opening remarks Thursday as WSLC Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson looks on.

WSLC President Jeff Johnson delivers his opening remarks Thursday as WSLC Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson looks on.


(9:30 a.m.) — In a “new/old tradition,” WSLC Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson opened the convention by leading delegates in a rousing song: “Solidarity Forever.”

WSLC Vice President Vance Lelli plays "Solidarity Forever."

WSLC Vice President Vance Lelli plays “Solidarity Forever.”

Delegates sing along.

Delegates sing along.


(9:15 a.m.) — Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt just welcomed more than 400 delegates and guests to the city for the annual convention of the state’s largest union organization, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. He thanked all those active in the WSLC for their efforts to create and improve jobs and fight for working families.


VANCOUVER (9 a.m. — July 25, 2013) — The Washington State Labor Council’s 2013 Convention begins today at the Vancouver Hilton Hotel and Convention Center. (See details and the agenda.)

The Entire Staff of The Stand will be blogging live from the event, so check back right here for updates. If you are at the convention, come visit us. We are all sitting together in the back of the convention hall.

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