The Stand

Jay Inslee is flying high after a strong primary showing

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By DAVID GROVES
The Stand


WENATCHEE (Aug. 8) — Fresh off a strong performance in Tuesday’s primary election, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee thanked the Washington State Labor Council for its advocacy on behalf of his campaign on Wednesday at the WSLC 2012 Convention in Wenatchee.

“From the results of the election last night, it looks like the state of Washington wants a governor who respects the middle class,” Inslee told some 500 convention delegates and guests. “We did very well, but we know we’ve got a long way to go.”

IAM District 751 President Tom Wroblewski, left,  presented Jay Inslee with a model of a 787 to thank him for his leadership role in securing the air-refueling tanker contract for Boeing, which will create thousands of aerospace jobs in Washington.

According to the latest count, Inslee received 46.8% of the votes in a field of nine candidates. In the fall election, he’ll face Republican State Attorney General Rob McKenna, who got 43.1%.

“We need to start building a working Washington based on the fundamental concept of shared prosperity,” Inslee said.

Another labor-endorsed candidate who had a strong primary showing was also greeted WSLC convention delegates on Wednesday. State Attorney General candidate Bob Ferguson received 51.9% of the votes, while his opponent got 38.5%. Ferguson said his willingness to take on powerful special interests who don’t play by the rules has resonated with Washington voters.

Sen. Maria Cantwell received a raucous ovation from delegates as an escort committee brought her to the convention stage on Wednesday.

WSLC convention delegates also heard from both of Washington’s U.S. Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

Cantwell earned 55.6% of the primary vote in her re-election race with the next highest vote-getter receiving just 30.5%. Cantwell spoke of the need to regulate financial markets, Washington’s efforts to train its future aerospace workforce, and her commitment to defend against Republican efforts to cut back Social Security benefits.

“We are not only going to fight to protect it, we’re going to fight to enhance it,” Cantwell said.

Murray explained why she and her Senate Democratic colleagues are adamant that Republicans agree to a “balanced approach” on the federal budget by year’s end, or face “sequestration” — automatic across-the-board budget cuts in military and all other government spending — a trigger that the Republicans themselves insisted upon in earlier budget negotiations. In addition, the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

She blamed GOP intransigence over extending those Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans for the impasse. House Republicans rejected a Senate-approved bill that would have extended the tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans, those who earn less than $250,000 a year, because the GOP insists that the wealthiest also get those tax cuts.

“I have been very clear in public and in private that if the Republicans do not work with us on that balanced approach, then we will not get a deal,” Murray said. “If we don’t get a deal, we’re going to continue this debate into 2013 and the Bush tax cuts will expire.”

WEDNESDAY’S OTHER CONVENTION HIGHLIGHTS

Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by WSLC President Jeff Johnson and WSLC Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson.

State Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney , who is retiring after serving in the State Legislature since 1997, received a special Lifetime Achievement Award for her decades of advocacy on behalf of Washington’s working families. She gave an emotional and heartfelt thanks to the WSLC and its delegates, saying that if you would have told her at age 5, when she worked alongside her migrant farmworker family in Wapato, that she would achieve so much as a legislator and community leader, she would have thought it “was a wonderful dream.” She thanked her husband, former WSLC President Larry Kenney, and all of organized labor for helping make that dream come true.

Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders (WA YELL) President Kamaria Hightower led a panel of young activists in a discussion of their ideas and attitudes about the role of young people in Washington’s labor movement. Tasha West Baker of UFCW Local 21, Anita Nath of UNITE HERE Local 8 and Alex Stone of the Economic Opportunity Institute repeatedly focused on the need to educate young people about unions, their accomplishments and why a strong and vital labor movement is needed today more than ever. Speaking of which…

A labor education panel echoed that message. George Lovell, professor of political science at the University of Washington and the new Harry Bridges Chair, thanked the assembled unions for their support as the Harry Bridges Centers celebrates its 20th anniversary. Andrew Heddon of the Labor Archives urged local unions to contact his office — see www.laborarchives.org — for assistance in preserving their historical records. Sarah Laslett, Director of the Washington State Labor Education and Research Center, introduced her staff and credited them for advancing the center’s mission “to give you the tools you need for a strong labor movement.” One of those staff members, Cheryl Coney, also gave details about the center’s emerging leaders program.

This year’s Jobs Now legislation was celebrated by a contingent of labor lobbyists who worked to pass the legislation. This $1.3 billion package of investments in state infrastructure will create tens of thousands of jobs that will boost all sectors of Washington’s economy. Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish), a prime sponsor of the legislation, thanked delegates for their support of the legislation and urged all to continue their advocacy for improving Washington’s competitiveness by investing in its infrastructure.

Phil Lindquist of the IUPAT District Council 5 received the Power to the People Award.

The Power to the People Award for outstanding political advocacy was presented to Phil Lindquist of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 5. He accepted a challenge posed in the spring by WSLC Political Director Karen Deal to create the most successful rank-and-file voter registration program possible, and was presented the award for his outstanding efforts.

A ballot measures panel described labor’s positions on the initiatives and referenda for this fall’s election.

Mary Lindquist, president of the Washington Education Association, described how a handful of super-rich individuals — including the Walton family — have bankrolled I-1240, the latest attempt to approve charter schools despite Washington voters having rejected the idea three times in recent years.

Robby Stern of the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action said the marijuana legalization measure, I-502, would free up law enforcement resources, regulate and improve safety of marijuana use, and raise desperately needed revenue for state and local governments.

Sarah Cherin of UFCW Local 21 gave an emotional plea for the approval of Ref. 74, which would affirm the Legislature’s new law creating marriage equality for all in Washington state. She read a passionate plea written by her parents in support of Cherin’s right to marry her partner.

April Sims urged opposition to Tim Eyman’s latest initiative, I-1185, to require two-thirds supermajority votes of the Legislature t0 raise revenue or close special-interest tax loopholes. She noted that the effort is being financed by big oil companies and beverage manufacturers that want to protect their preferential tax treatment in Washington to the detriment of public services.



The convention concludes Thursday with delegates voting on supplemental political endorsements and WSLC resolutions. The results of these votes will be posted next week at www.wslc.org.

The 2012 WSLC Convention is being recorded by TVW, Washington state’s public affairs network. As soon as those videos are available online, they will be posted at the WSLC website: www.wslc.org.

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