The Stand

2018 Leg. Report: Proof that every vote counts in Olympia

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WSLC’s 2018 Legislative Report summarizes productive session, includes voting records

 

OLYMPIA (May 10, 2018) —  Every vote counts. Political organizers say it all the time, but the 2018 session of the Washington State Legislature proved the difference a single vote can make.

In this case, it was last fall’s special election of Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), which shifted control of the Senate from Republicans to Democrats. That one vote broke loose a legislative logjam in place for the past five years. Many bills supported by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions had been blocked from votes by Senate Republican leaders. But in 2018, they finally got fair votes and many passed with strong bipartisan majorities.

From voting rights to equal pay, from bargaining rights to prevailing wages, many pro-worker bills were approved and signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee. A healthy capital construction budget, long delayed by partisan brinkmanship, passed and will create jobs and invest in infrastructure throughout the state. But lawmakers failed to approve important bills on issues like hospital workers’ breaks and contracting transparency.

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO did its best to squeeze it all into its 2018 Legislative Report released on Thursday, including an unprecedented number of bills included in the 2018 Voting Record. The report comes in advance of the WSLC’s COPE Endorsement Convention on Saturday, May 19, where union delegates from across the state will vote on which candidates have earned labor’s support.

Download the full 8-page report (PDF) or just the 2018 Voting Record.

Printed copies of the 2018 Legislative Report are being mailed to all WSLC-affiliated unions. Officers, staff, and rank-and-file members of affiliated unions also can request additional copies or call 206-281-8901 to order multiple copies.

The Stand has posted some of the publication’s stories, including:


2018: ‘A down payment on hope’  (President’s Column by Jeff Johnson) — What a difference an election makes. Although House and Senate Democratic majorities remain slim, the breadth of common-sense legislation signed into law was inspiring…  Many of those bills waited for five years to see the light of day. Let’s keep the sun shining by supporting candidates who support working people. However, the Legislature was not able to address the structural deficit that Washington state has suffered for more than a decade.

Victory on equal pay; progress on sexual harassment — Washington was one the first states in the nation to address the wage gap by passing the Equal Pay Act in 1943. In 2018, the state made history again by adding additional provisions aimed at closing the gap between what women and men are paid with the passage of HB 1506, the Equal Pay Opportunity Act sponsored by Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island).

Budget boosts teacher pay — SB 6032 was able to invest a substantial $941 million in schools, public safety, mental health, natural resources and to help vulnerable people. The biggest boost was $776 million dedicated to improving teacher salaries, which builds upon the progress made last year to address the McCleary decision.

School funding, negotiating rights – at last (Secretary-Treasurer’s Column by Lynne Dodson) — With Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, we saw improvements in the system from kindergarten through college. Top among the improvements in the K-12 system was money to increase teacher salaries, funding for special education, changes to the appropriations model from last year that will ensure school districts don’t lose revenue, and additional funding to support Running Start students. This year, after more than a decade of attempts to open up the possibility of bargaining for salary increases at the local level, the Legislature finally passed HB 1237 enabling college faculty to bargain local college funds for salaries.

Safety net strengthened for Hanford workers (by Nickolas Bumpaous) — This year, under the leadership of the Democratic-controlled Legislature, Rep. Larry Haler (R-Richland) and Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Kent) fought strong and swift to pass HB 1723 , creating an occupational illness presumption for Hanford workers.

Capital budget means good jobs — With Democrats gaining control of the Senate, their party leaders in both houses vowed to move quickly to end Senate Republicans’ “hostage crisis” and pass the capital budget, which was one of the highest priorities of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO in 2018. That’s exactly what happened.

Big wins for the building trades — From prevailing wages to apprenticeships to work safety issues, Building and construction trades workers scored some major legislative victories in 2018. Here’s a quick summary.

When we work together, we win (column by Mark Riker) — While we do not always see eye to eye with each other, within our trades unions, and within the labor movement over all, the successes of the 2018 show what is possible when we work together, and support each other.

Voters get more ‘Access to Democracy’ — Gov. Jay Inslee signed a package of five bills — dubbed the Access to Democracy package  — to improve voter access and strengthen democracy in Washington state. One of them was the long-sought Washington Voting Rights Act, SB 6002, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle).

On race, the WVRA and dog-whistle politics (column by Eric González Alfaro) — We can no longer endure the concept of race-neutral, color blind, or what should be more accurately described as race ignorant. Our cultural and ethnic identities deserve to be acknowledged and are relevant in shaping public policy. While the House debated the Washington Voting Rights Act, a handful of Republicans delivered floor speeches that were openly demeaning and riddled with dog-whistle commentary on race and identity.

Public employees achieve ambitious agenda — In preparation for a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Janus v. AFSCME public sector “right-to-work” case, state employees, nurses, fire fighters, city and county workers, police officers, spoken language interpreters, port employees, and teachers linked arms to harden their bargaining rights against this attack.

Another punt on our upside-down tax code (column by Joe Kendo) — The people of Washington state suffer under the most regressive, backwards, and upside-down tax code in the nation. While certain legislators worked to inject a little more justice into the system this year, the Legislature largely failed to address this threat to equality, equity, and economic justice.

DREAM Act 2.0 maintains access to higher education (column by Graciela Nuñez Pargas) — In another win for the progressive labor movement, undocumented youth are now eligible for the College Bound scholarships regardless of immigration status. Dream Act 2.0 became law after three years of student advocacy, community engagement, and coalition building. Labor partnered with all stakeholders to advance the bill in a strong bipartisan fashion.

 


 

There are more articles in the WSLC’s 2018 Legislative Report on issues ranging from health care to “banning the box” to pesticide drift. Download the full 8-page PDF to read them all, or request the printed edition or call 206-281-8901 to order multiple copies.

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