Connect with us


WSLC Convention Day 2: State legislative champions honored

SEATAC — Day two of the annual convention of Washington state’s largest labor organization was a day featuring considerable praise — and criticism — of state legislators.

Delegates representing union organizations from across the state on Friday honored several state legislators who championed the interests of working families during the 2011 legislative session. They did so the same day the WSLC released its 2011 Legislative Report and Voting Record summarizing the session and featuring a scorecard that was unusually critical of many Democratic state legislators who sided with a united Republican caucus in supporting anti-worker legislation.

The WSLC honored three lawmakers with its 2011 Legislators of the Year Awards: Sen. Steve Conway (D-Tacoma), and Reps. Mike Sells (D-Everett) and Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle). It also presented special legislative awards to eight freshman Democratic state representatives who stood united in support of working families’ issues and earned 100% voting records from the council: Andy Billig of Spokane, Joe Fitzgibbon of Seattle, Connie Ladenburg of Tacoma, Kris Lytton of Bellingham, Luis Moscoso of Everett, Chris Reykdal of Olympia, Cindy Ryu of Shoreline, and Derek Stanford of Everett.

(L to R) Reps. Cindy Ryu, Joe Fitzgibbon and Kris Lytton are presented legislative awards by the WSLC's Rebecca Johnson.

On behalf of the eight freshman, Reykdal said: “You asked us to put people before corporations, and working men and women before the privileged. We did it this year, we will do it again next year, and we will keep doing it until working families run this state again.”

That message brought a needed note of optimism for the future after a session in which Democratic legislative leaders and the governor sided with a united Republican caucus in slashing workers’ compensation benefits, promoting the privatization of public services, and even decertifying a public employee union (ferry captains) and requiring them to vote again if they wish to retain union presentation.

“I had a Republican legislator say to me, ‘Labor needs to stop acting like it’s the 1930s’,” said Rep. Sells. “My response to him was, ‘We’ll stop when you top acting like it’s the 1890s’.”

In other convention action on Friday:

— Mary Beth Maxwell, Senior Adviser to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, listed the agency’s focus since her boss was sworn in and announced, “There’s a new sheriff in town.” They include hiring hundreds of new wage-and-hour and OSHA investigators to improve enforcement of existing laws, plus updating regulations to make sure they are protecting workers, particularly in the area of workplace safety.

— Mark Dudzik, National Coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Health Care, suggested the Affordable Care Act passed to reform the nation’s health system was just a small step in the direction we need to go. He decried the fact that there are now up to 50 million Americans who lack health care coverage, and said the only real solution to reforming a profit-based health system is to create a “single payer” system — Like Medicare for all. Dudzik kicked off a panel of health care speakers who discussed the status of implementation of the federal reforms in Washington state.

— Sarah Laslett of the Washington State Labor Education and Research Center; Jim Gregory of UW’s Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, and Conor Casey of the Labor Archive of Washington State made the case for utilizing and growing the state’s labor education resources. Click here for more information, including how you and your union can support these important programs.

— Representatives of the WSLC constituency groups introduced delegates to their organizations: A. Philip Randolph Institute, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Pride at Work, and Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans.

— Mandy Yu and Henry Luke mesmerized delegates with a heartfelt, dynamic spoken work presentation.

— David Campbell, managing partner of Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt LLP, explained the importance of the NLRB case against the Boeing Co. for illegally retaliating against Machinists District 751 for engaging in legally protected activity, their right to strike. “Boeing didn’t do what CEOs usually do when they move production, they lie about it,” Campbell said. Instead, Boeing openly bragged that they chose to move production to South Carolina specifically because workers were exercising their legal rights. Unless the company is held accountable, all worker rights are in jeopardy.

The afternoon session was dedicated to workshops.

See the convention agenda for Saturday’s schedule.


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!