Connect with us


Inslee brings strong record to governor’s race

When Republican State Attorney General Rob McKenna announced his campaign June 8, The Stand asked: What kind of governor would McKenna be for Washington’s working families?

Today, we pose the same question about U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-1st), who just announced his candidacy for governor yesterday (June 27).

Inslee has a lifetime 89% Congressional Voting Record with the AFL-CIO, after serving as U.S. Representative from the 4th District in 1993-94 and the 1st District from 1999 to present. He has consistently voted with working families’ interests on strengthening collective bargaining rights, protecting Social Security and Medicare, expanding access to affordable health care, and protecting labor standards, including the minimum wage, overtime pay, prevailing wage, and workplace safety. Most of the votes where Inslee disagreed with the AFL-CIO position involved international trade agreements.

As a State Representative from 1989-92 from the 14th District in the Selah/Yakima area, Inslee earned an 89% Legislative Voting Record with the Washington State Labor Council.

“I am pleased to see Jay Inslee throw his hat into ring for the governor’s race and look forward to discussions between him and our affiliates on issues important to working families and the overall health of our state economy,” said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “Jay’s voting record during his time in the State Legislature and in Congress shows someone who is pragmatic but who clearly holds dear the key values of workers’ rights, access to affordable health care and higher education, and economic growth that is environmentally conscious.”

A Clear Contrast Between Inslee and McKenna

While there is still lots of time for other candidates to enter the race, the possible 2012 choice for governor between Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna offers clear contrasts on working families’ issues. For example, at a time that right-wing conservatives are attacking public employees and trying to take away their collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin and around the nation, the differences between Inslee and McKenna are stark.

Inslee has been a strong and consistent supporter of public employee collective bargaining rights. As a state legislator, he repeatedly voted to grant state employees the right to bargain over wages and benefits as early as 1989, some 14 years before that right was finally enacted into law. In Congress, Inslee voted multiple times to protect and strengthen union rights, including by co-sponsoring the Employee Free Choice Act and by opposing the recent effort to take away collective bargaining rights from airport security screeners who just voted to unionize with the American Federation of Government Employees.

McKenna, on the other hand, launched his campaign earlier this month with a broadside attack against state employees, using erroneous figures to exaggerate the growth of state employee jobs. Even as Washington continues to shed state jobs — more than 1,300 were cut in the recently approved budget — McKenna promised to cut even more jobs, saying, “Fewer people doing more work — that’s the answer.”

After McKenna told the Seattle Times that collective bargaining is a right and that he would “work with the unions,” he was slammed by his right-wing political base. He has since “clarified” his position to a right-wing blog, saying that collective bargaining is merely a “statutory right” and that would he would like to change those laws.

Here are a few other working families’ issues presenting a clear contrast between Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna:

MINIMUM WAGE — As Attorney General, Rob McKenna tried to block the state’s lowest paid workers from getting a 12-cent raise in 2011 using what WSLC President Jeff Johnson called a “fanciful interpretation of the law.” As State Representative and in Congress, Jay Inslee consistently supported modest increases in the state and federal minimum wages.

JOBS — Inslee has been a national leader on creating green jobs in emerging enviromentally-friendly industries and launched his campaign promising to make job creation and business recruitment/retention his singular focus as governor. As the Seattle Times points out, Inslee’s focus on jobs stands in stark contrast to McKenna “whose recent campaign announcement focused heavily on pushing a leaner state government.”

HEALTH CARE — Inslee voted in favor of banning insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, allowing young adults to be covered by their parents’ policies, eliminating the costly Medicare “donut hole” for seniors’ drug coverage, and banning annual and lifetime caps on coverage. Against the will of the governor and legislature, McKenna filed a lawsuit that, if successful, will eliminate all of those positive health reforms.

Johnson said the WSLC will continue to research and report Inslee’s record and positions on working family issues so that the council’s affiliated unions can make an informed decision about who deserves labor’s support in next year’s gubernatorial race. For more information about the WSLC’s endorsement process, contact WSLC Political Director Karen Deal at 206-281-8901.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!