OLYMPIA (Feb. 13) — U.S. job creation finally began to pick up speed in January, but that does not lessen the urgency to pass the Infrastructure Jobs Bond here in Washington State.
Nationally, long-term unemployment — the percentage of workers who have been out of work for six months or more — remains at the highest levels since the Great Depression. In our state, it is the construction industry where that persistent joblessness continues to inflict enormous damage on families, and on our state economy. Depending on the region of the state, different trades are reporting from 25% to 50% unemployment.
That’s why the Washington State Labor Council has been interviewing unemployed building trades workers around the state. We’ve been asking them to describe the impact joblessness has had on their families and why they support the Infrastructure Jobs Bond.
Check out the entire (growing) collection of interviews here.
It’s halftime in Olympia. Policy bills are now getting votes and the negotiations are beginning in earnest on yet another painful budget. Although legislative leaders are in agreement that more cuts—on top of the $10 billion already slashed from the state budget—must be mitigated by some form of new revenue, there’s no question there will be more cuts. And those cuts will harm not just our schools and other public services, they will harm our economic competitiveness. They will slow the recovery.
That’s why Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) and Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish) are working with other supporters to refine the draft project lists for the Infrastructure Jobs Bond to make sure these public construction investments focus on areas that will spur economic development and create jobs in just about every industrial sector.
“There is no doubt that this is a tough time to be a state legislator,” said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council. “But this jobs bill is an opportunity for our leaders to be proactive in a time of crisis instead of just trying to mitigate the harm. As legislators work to finalize a budget and weigh the damage that would be done by more cuts to schools, colleges, public safety, health care, and other essential services, surely this is a time for bold positive action to create jobs.”
Check out the WSLC Legislative Tracker™
This edition of the WSLC Legislative Update is abbreviated because Tuesday, Feb. 14 is the deadline for bills to move out of their houses of origin, and bills’ status are changing as fast as we can type. Another edition will be published later this week to report what survived.
In the meantime, see the Legislative Tracker™ to get updates on many of the key bills of concern to the WSLC and its affiliated unions. If your union would like to add a bill of particular concern to the Tracker™, please contact David Groves at firstname.lastname@example.org.