The Stand

Labor, community call for Shared Prosperity at Olympia rally

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OLYMPIA (Feb. 23, 2015) — Some 800 union members and their supporters gathered Friday on the steps of the State Capitol to rally in support of the Washington State Labor Council’s Shared Prosperity Agenda and against legislative attacks on workers’ freedom of association, apprenticeship programs, and wage standards.

15Feb20-rally-johnson“Working people have come to the Capitol today to say that broadly shared prosperity is good for workers, good for our families, good for our communities and good for the state,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson as he opened the rally. “Workers deserve a share of the prosperity that they create and the economy grows when this happens. We need to raise wages and grow the economy.”

Many of the rally participants has also attended Friday’s WSLC Legislative and Lobbying Conference and joined groups of workers from their legislative districts to meet with state legislators on key issues. Among other things, the WSLC’s Shared Prosperity Agenda includes raising the minimum wage to $12/hour, establishing a statewide paid sick leave standard, protecting workers from retaliation for reporting wage violations, granting state employees their first cost-of-living raises in seven years, and funding a clean transportation package that doesn’t include ideological attacks on apprenticeship and prevailing wage standards.

15Feb20-rally-kidsA proposed transportation package in Senate that does include such  ideological attacks was cited by speaker after speaker as unnecessary and unwarranted attacks on working people.

“We support a clean transportation package,” said Lee Newgent, Executive Secretary of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council. “What we need is for people here to do their jobs like we do every day.”

Dozens of legislators also attended the rally to show their solidarity. Several who have sponsored bills on the Shared Prosperity Agenda addressed the rally and drew contrasts between the Democratic-controlled House, where these measures are advancing, and the Republican-controlled Senate, where they are being stifled in favor of bills that attack public employees collective bargaining rights, create sub-minimum wages, and cut assistance to workers injured on the job.

Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle), pictured below, led a spirited call-and-response, “What do we do when we are under attack? We get mad and we fight back!”

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“There are 550,000 workers in this state that would benefit from a raise in the minimum wage so we are going to fight and we are going to make it happen in the Senate,” said Sen. Pramila Jayapal, sponsor of SB 5285 to raise the state’s lowest legal wage to $12 per hour over four years. “They know that if we don’t pass it in the Senate, we’ve always got the ballot.”

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The rally concluded with WSLC Secretary Treasurer Lynne Dodson asking attendees — and the legislators within shouting distance — a familiar question from the union folk song, “Which Side Are You On?” She asked the question on issue after issue, including legislation to create some job-creation accountability from aerospace companies that receive billions of dollars in tax breaks from Washington taxpayers.

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“Which side are you on? Corporations that make millions get massive tax breaks while pensions get frozen, jobs are shipped out of state, and public education is starved?” asked Dodson. “If a company is going to get a tax break, they need to create jobs in Washington. If they are going to save billions in taxes, the workers should at least get a living wage for making them prosperous. Which side are you on? Corporate accountability and living wage jobs? Or big tax giveaways that benefit the CEO’s but not the workers?”

“Which side are you on? Shared prosperity or greater inequality? Shared prosperity and a better world for all of us, or just more profits for the few, already wealthy?”

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Short URL: http://www.thestand.org/?p=37981

Posted by on Feb 23 2015. Filed under TAKE A STAND!, W.S.L.C.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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