(Dec. 11, 2012) — On Monday, 23 Washington State Republican Senators along with erstwhile Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon formed a majority caucus in the Senate that will decide policy and budgetary issues in what they call a “collaborative and equitable” manner. Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) said people were “crying out” for such an approach. Tom, who would become Senate Majority Leader under the deal, said, “it is unprecedented what we are trying do — we are sending a strong message that we will govern from the middle.”
Following is a statement from Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO:
“In my 26 years of experience with the Washington State Legislature, Olympia has always governed from the middle. This new approach feels a lot like a big shift to the political right. The new majority coalition says that they want to put politics aside and bring forth a bipartisan effort on jobs, education and the budget. So the way we will evaluate their work is by the values upon which they base their decisions.
“We believe that the voters spoke loud and clear that the wealthy are not paying their fair share of taxes, that we have to prioritize creating jobs, and that we need to restore a sense of shared prosperity. I care less about having a diverse set of committee chairs then I do about a Legislature that recognizes that we need greater resources to rebuild our educational, social and physical infrastructure, and that we can’t get there by sacrificing the employment, wages, or benefits of our state employees and public school teachers.”
The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, is the largest union organization in Washington state, representing the interests of more than 600 labor organizations and 400,000 rank-and-file union members.