By JUSTINE WINNIE
OLYMPIA (Mar. 12, 2013) — There was a new face in town at last week’s quarterly Executive Board meeting of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in Washington State. It was Nicole Grant, Executive Director of the Certified Electrical Workers of Washington, representing the Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders. Voted in by the WA YELL Executive Board, Grant will represent the interests of YELL members and young workers in Washington.
Grant has a long history of service in the labor movement. She was a working student for years, always with a union job. In this way, she was able to meld campus activism with being a young union worker. When she was 25, Grant began an apprenticeship with IBEW Local 46 and was ready to get serious about serving her union and developing her leadership skills.
As Executive Director of the Certified Electrical Workers of Washington, Grant runs political programs and lobbies in support of pro-working family legislation in Olympia. During the past four legislative sessions, she and her team have supported the passage of multiple bills to strengthen apprenticeship and to create jobs in Washington.
As a young woman in a nontraditional trade for women, she was drawn to the Electrical Workers’ Minority Caucus, where she became immersed in “the spirit of service, education and lifting each other up.” In 2011, Grant’s inspiring idealism and commitment to social justice earned her the WSLC Women’s Committee Elsie Schraeder Award for advancing women’s causes.
Grant says that as a Vice President of the Washington State Labor Council, she aims to help secure YELL’s future by making sure that young workers’ interests and vision are captured in the WSLC policy and actions. She says that young workers share the most urgent issues of all working Washingtonians: employment, wages & benefits.
“Many young workers don’t have immediate, obvious access to union work,” she said. “We must show young workers what unions can do for them, and how they can empower themselves through the union. We need simplified, streamlined ways for workers to organize and build momentum.”
After being sworn in as WSLC Vice President at her first meeting on March 7, Grant spoke passionately about young workers’ needs at the WA YELL South Puget Sound Chapter launch party later that evening.
When not fighting on behalf of working families, Grant can be found relaxing with her husband and two boys, admiring union-made 747s flying overhead and enjoying lunch at the union-staffed Chelan Cafe in Seattle.