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WSLC Convention — what you need to know

bridgeVANCOUVER (July 19, 2013) — The 2013 Convention of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the state’s largest union organization, is Thursday through Saturday, July 25-27 at the Vancouver Hilton Hotel and Convention Center. It is at this convention that the WSLC’s more than 500 affiliated labor organizations, representing some 400,000 rank-and-file members across the state, meet to discuss issues affecting Washington working families and to set the WSLC’s policies and priorities for the coming year.

Under the theme, “Building Bridges: Labor and Community,” the convention will feature many distinguished guest speakers and educational workshops focused on organized labor’s efforts to build community coalitions to achieve broadly shared prosperity for working families. (And to build bridges… in Vancouver… and elsewhere.) Panels will address creating environmentally sustainable jobs, comprehensive immigration reform, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and other labor-community partnerships.


The official photo of the 2012 WSLC Convention held in Wenatchee. (Click to enlarge.)

In addition, delegates will have the opportunity to participate in AFL-CIO Listening Sessions about the future of the labor movement. Delegates’ input will be critical this September, when the AFL-CIO — the union federation uniting more than 12 million working men and women — will convene in Los Angeles to make big decisions about new ways to help working people gain a voice. These will include new forms of representation for workers, new approaches to politics and the global economy, new community partnerships, and more.

Here’s everything you need to know if you are attending as a delegate, alternate or guest (including the latest tentative agenda):


The Washington State Labor Council’s Constitution says that proposed resolutions should be submitted 30 days prior to convention. That was June 25. However, “late” resolutions are routinely accepted right up until noon on the first day of convention and also will be considered by delegates. Affiliates are urged to submit these resolutions at the earliest possible time to facilitate reproduction and distribution to the convention body.

These resolutions are a key part not just of the WSLC Convention, but of the organization itself. It is through their debate and passage that WSLC positions and policies are established. Any WSLC-affiliated union may submit resolutions. See the resolutions approved in 2012 for examples of the diverse issues that are covered. The resolutions are first referred to various committees that will meet Thursday afternoon and consider whether to recommend changes or corrections. Debate and voting on the resolutions, and any committee amendments, will take place Saturday.

Learn more here.


This convention is a great opportunity for union officers, staff and rank-and-file delegates to hear from political and labor leaders, attend informative workshops, develop relationships with other unions — and have some fun. The action actually begins on Wednesday, July 24. In addition to the actual agenda of the plenary sessions and workshops, special convention events include:

10th Annual WSLC Golf Invitational

golf-ball-13Delegates who plan to attend the convention should make plans to come a day early on Wednesday, July 24 for the 10th Annual WSLC Golf Invitational hosted by the WSLC, Labor 1992 Corp., Foundation for Working Families, and Union Home Services. It will be held at the Camas Meadows Golf Course, which is a 20-minute drive from the Vancouver Hilton. Download the tournament brochure for more info, including how to register.

All tournament proceeds benefit the Foundation for Working Families disaster relief funds, as well as community service agencies in Washington State. This past year, the Foundation helped many union members and their families facing serious hardships and there is a great need to rebuild those funds for members in need. Not a golfer? Please consider donating to the Foundation for Working Families by sending your generous tax-deductible contributions to the Foundation for Working Families, c/o the Washington State Labor Council, 906 Columbia St. S.W. #330, Olympia, WA, 98501. For more information, call the Foundation for Working Families at 360-570-5169.

Learn more here.

“Labor: A Working History” Exhibit Reception

PROOF2_YELLThe Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, has been working with the Clark County Historical Museum for months to bring labor’s history in Southwest Washington to light and to the public. The museum just opened an exhibit entitled “Labor: A Working History,” which will be on display for 18 months.

In conjunction with the WSLC Convention, an open house at the exhibit will be hosted by Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders (WA YELL) from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, the evening preceding the start of the convention.

Learn more here.

Women’s Committee Auction

The WSLC Women’s Committee holds a silent auction every year during the annual convention to raise money for scholarships for rank-and-file women to attend various labor-oriented institutes and schools throughout the summer months. This year the scholarship fund will be able to send five women to the 32nd Annual Western Regional Summer Institute for Union Women being held this year at the University of Washington in Seattle. This summer school offers a series of in-depth courses, workshops, and other useful information.

The Women’s Committee is seeking donations of union memorabilia, goods and services that can be offered at this year’s silent auction to raise money for these important scholarships. The auction will be Friday evening in the convention hall outside the convention reception and banquet. If you have items you wish to donate or if you have questions, email Kairie Pierce or call her at 360-570-5167.


Pre-registered delegates and alternates should have already received a tentative agenda and other convention-related materials in the mail. Here is the latest agenda (subject to change):


5:30 – 7:30 p.m. — Early Registration in Heritage Lobby (just outside of the Vancouver Hilton’s Alder Room) — Avoid the lines Thursday morning! If you’re arriving Wednesday, make sure you take advantage of this opportunity to register early.


7:00 a.m. — Sergeants-at-Arms/Rules & Order of Business Breakfast – Private Dining Room — Delegates serving at Sergeants-at-Arms will have already been notified.

7:30 a.m. — Registration Begins and Convention Office opens (Alder Room)

8:00 a.m. — New Delegate Workshop (Cedar Room) — If you’ve never served as a WSLC Convention Delegate or Alternate, or if you just want to meet the officers/staff of the WSLC and get a refresher on the convention process, join us at this workshop hosted by The Entire Staff of The Stand!

9:00 a.m. — CONVENTION CONVENES (Heritage Ballroom)

Greetings from Vancouver Mayor Timothy Leavitt and Shannon Walker, President of the Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO

President Jeff Johnson

Comprehensive Immigration Reform panel — Lee Newgent, Seattle BCTC; Alejandra Silva-Hernandez (A Dreamer); Toby Guevin, One America; Sharon Maeda, 21 Progress

Darren Phelps, Executive Director, National Pride at Work

The Affordable Care Act and Beyond panel — Sara Flocks, CA Federation of Labor; Mary Garisch, Vermont Worker Center; Traven Leyshon, Secretary Treasurer, Vermont AFL-CIO

Power to the People Award

State Sen. Nathan Schlicher

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Pact – Celeste Drake, Trade & Globalization Policy Specialist, AFL-CIO

Leslie Liddle, WA State ARA Speaker

Winning Video from May Works

Noon – 1:30 p.m. —  LUNCH

1:30 – 3:00  — WORKSHOPS

  1. The Affordable Care Act and Beyond (Discovery A) — What do we need to know and do to make health care reform successful? Learn about steps that Vermont is taking to achieve a single-payer system statewide, and about California’s effort to stop employers from taking advantage of loopholes in the federal law to skirt their responsibility. The Affordable Care Act was the first step — now let’s plan our next steps to realize the goals of health care reform.
  2. Preparing to Run for Office in 7 Steps (Discovery B) — Thinking about running for office in the future? Running a campaign? Assessing a candidate’s viability? Then this is the workshop for you! If you’re thinking of running, thinking about thinking about running, or asking fancy questions in your endorsement interviews, come learn what candidates should do before filing for office.
  3. Cooperatives: The Solution Unions Have Been Looking For? (Discovery C) — In a globalized economy, how can we ensure the stability of good, family-wage jobs?  Some look to the cooperative model for an answer, where workers and owners are one in the same. Hear about the Cincinnati Union Coop Initiative; their program was developed out of a partnership between the United Steelworkers and Mondragon of Spain. Learn from their successes, about the union role in worker ownership models as we lay the groundwork for implementation in Washington state.

2:00 p.m. —  Committee Meetings

  1. Legislative  (Discovery E)
  2. Resolutions  (Discovery D)
  3. Labels & Lists  (Boardroom)
  4. Grievance, if needed  (Boardroom)

3:15 – 4:45 p.m. — WORKSHOPS

  1. Fostering Workplace Safety Compliance  (Discovery A) — What are risk factors for being injured on the job and are they risks you are willing to take? Look at injury prevention through DOSH Consultation Services; learn about injury risk factors, employer safety motivation, accident costs, and more. Do employees know what to do if injured on the job site? Project Help will familiarize you with Washington’s workers’ compensation system. This workshop will allow you to effectively create safety committees and accident prevention programs.
  2. TransPacific Partnersip: It’s Impact on Your Members and What YOU Can Do About It — (Discovery B) — Examine the ways that the TPP threatens workers and their families, including threats to our health and food safety systems. We’ll connect U.S. trade policy and the root causes of forced migration as we work collectively towards comprehensive immigration reform. You’ll leave this workshop understanding the threat of the TPP and be ready to mobilize rank-and-file and community members to challenge the TPP and future trade deals that erode labor rights.
  3. The Big “O:” Women Organizing for Power (Discovery C) — What is organizing and how do we use it to grow our unions’ strength and power? How can we use our skills as women activists to engage our members and co-workers, as well as the community, around issues that matter? Join us in an exploration of the hows and whys of organizing plus build skills that will engage, strengthen and grow your union.

5:00 – 5:30 p.m. — Statewide COPE  (Discovery A) — This committee will meet to consider recommendations from Central Labor Councils for political endorsements on statewide ballot measures and in state legislative, statewide and judicial races. Delegates are welcome to attend and observe. If the committee makes a recommendation, it will be taken to the convention on Saturday for consideration.

5:30 – 8:30 p.m. — COPE Barbecue  (Turtle Place Park, about two blocks from the hotel)


7:30 a.m. — Convention Office Opens  (Alder Room)

8:30 a.m. — CONVENTION RECONVENES  (Heritage Ballroom)

Creating Sustainable Jobs panel — Dave Foster, National Blue/Green Alliance; KC Golden, Climate Solutions; Mark Lowry, NW Central Labor Council; Kathleen Ridihalgh, Sierra Club

Bruce Brennan Award

Labor/Community Partnerships panel — Hilary Stern, Casa Latina; Dana Laurent, Win/Win; Will Pitts, WACAN; Rich Stolz, One America; Faith Action Network representative

Mother Jones Awards

Labor Education and Research Center/Labor Archives Reports — Sarah Laslett, LERC; Conor Casey, UW Labor Archives

10:50 a.m. — AFL-CIO Listening Sessions — Delegates and alternates will be divided into eight breakout groups to discuss the future of the labor movement. Delegates’ input will be recorded and incorporated into decisions this September, when the AFL-CIO will convene in Los Angeles to make big decisions about new ways to help working people gain a voice. These will include new forms of representation for workers, new approaches to politics and the global economy, new community partnerships, and more.

12:00 – 1:30 p.m. — LUNCH BREAK

President’s Club Luncheon — Governor Jay Inslee  (Heritage F) — If you are not a member of the President’s Club, but wish to attend, President Club application forms are available in your convention packets and in the Convention Office (Alder Room)

1:30 – 3:00 p.m. — WORKSHOPS

  1. The Effects of Cuts on Laid-Off Workers: Will There Be Anything Left?  (Discovery A) — Workforce development programs are dealing with huge cuts and administrative changes and many can no longer effectively serve. Proposals that diminish existing aid are coming from both sides of the political spectrum; pitched as bipartisan agreements. Join us for an overview of some specific proposals, the implications on workers should they pass, and tools to advocate for solutions to retain a strong middle class.
  2. The Education System and Labor  (Discovery B) — Learn about how you can become an important part of the community college system  by sharing your expertise in a trustee position or on an advisory committee. Hear from top professionals within the community college and apprenticeship system, gaining helpful tips on navigating the system.
  3. Communicating Across Differences  (Discovery C) — How do gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, age and class factor into the work you do? Do you have the skills to effectively address discrimination when you see it happen? WA YELL and the WSLC Diversity Committee collaborate with UW Social Work Professor Norma Timbang, for an introduction to her series on anti-oppression work.
  4. Producing Effective Videos  (Discovery D) — Learn how to shoot any event so that you can tell a good story, how to piece together the footage and get suggestions and price tips for when you are ready to invest in video gear. You will also hear from unions who have created those great animated short videos that have gone viral and learn how to make that happen for your union.

3:15 – 4:45 p.m. — WORKSHOPS

  1. Looking for Help in All the Right Places: Union Internships  (Discovery A) — Need help developing a good database for member contact information or something more sophisticated like developing a political action program? Organizations serving students and job seekers are looking for good places where useful skills can be learned. Unions and CLCs are in a great position to (ethically) create useful placements for students and job seekers. We can get some of the help we need and help these students and job seekers.  Let’s find the win-win way forward.
  2. Winning Big in Hard Times  (Discovery B) — This workshop draws important lessons for us today about how our ancestors endured great defeats and finally achieved great victories during long periods of dominant corporate power.  These lessons provide inspiration as well as deep insights on how we turn our nation once again toward a brighter future anchored in a broadly shared sustainable prosperity.
  3. Social Security/Medicare Is Under Attack — Stand Up and Fight Back!  (Discovery C) — The best defense is a good offense. While opposing the Chained CPI, we demand the “Cap be Scrapped” and benefits be improved as Sen. Harkin recently proposed. Social Security must become a 21st century program. Join us for a lively discussion.
  4. 10 Things Unions Should Know About Political Campaign Finances  (Discovery D) — Come learn the 10 simple things every union leader needs to know about campaign finances.  Attorney Dmitri Iglitzin will demystify Washington State’s Fair Campaign Practices Act, deconstruct political action committees, separate segregated funds, isolate independent contributions, analyze affiliation rules, and resolve reporting requirements, and let you know the things unions must never, never do, if they want to stay out of the clutches of the Public Disclosure Commission and the Internal Revenue Service.

6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Convention Reception and Banquet
(and Women’s Committee Silent Auction)

President’s Award

Elsie Schrader Award

Entertainment – John Keister from “Almost Live” & “The 206”


8:30 a.m. — CONVENTION RECONVENES  (Heritage Ballroom)

Video from Senator Patty Murray

Congressman Denny Heck

Paul Price, National Association of Letter Carriers

John Lund, U.S. Department of Labor

Possible COPE Action

Affiliate Issues



For more information about the convention, call the WSLC Seattle office at 206-281-8901 or email the WSLC.

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!