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Working families big winners of 2015 legislative session(s)


(July 17, 2015) — The biggest winners of the 2015 legislative session(s) are… working families!

15Feb20-rally-frontAfter the GOP held the State Senate following last November’s general election, right-wing anti-worker organizations began to make their wish lists: Right to Work, cutting taxes for corporations, workers’ compensation and collective bargaining “reforms,” health-care cuts, and so much more. Bill after bill was dropped to harm working families.

None of it passed! Instead, led by the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC), a coalition of organizations that work hard to defend working Washingtonians built a tremendous platform for success in Olympia. They went further to build bipartisan allies for that plan including critical votes in the Republican controlled Senate.

The results:

► A transportation package that will create tens of thousands of family-wage jobs across the state;

► A capital budget that will create tens of thousands of jobs across the state;

► Sound Transit authority that if voted on by the citizens will create tens of thousands of jobs in the Puget Sound;

► An operating budget that invests more in our schools and colleges and it begins the critical stitching together of the tattered safety net;

► Cost-of-living adjustments for state employees that will infuse hundreds of millions of dollars into local economies;

► Fully funded contracts for long-term care workers;

► A repeal of some tax loopholes to pay for tuition cuts at colleges and universities;

► No Right to Work law;

► No roll backs of workers’ compensation;

► No tearing down of labor negotiations; and

► No rolling back of the Affordable Care Act.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to do.

A minimum wage increase, equal pay, tax reform, aerospace accountability, and other labor priorities still sit out there like pots of gold under a political rainbow. Coalition building isn’t about absolute victory, it’s about real progress for the women and men that actually do the work of keeping our state strong and vibrant.

On the issue of progress, the WSLC and all of its affiliates, allies, and supporters had one hell of a good legislative session. It’s in our nature to focus on what we didn’t win, but it is critical to celebrate the victories. In victory, you are reminded of what it is you are fighting for in the first place.

A special thank you to Jeff Johnson, Joe Kendo, Teresa Mosqueda, and the government relations teams of the local labor organizations. These folks spent countless hours on the ground in Olympia fighting for working families. The labor family is well-served by these champions.

The citizens of the State of Washington are especially well-served because the labor family fought and won on the core principle that public sector investments create immediate jobs and long-term prosperity. Our state’s unemployment rate will go down as a result of these budgets. More adults will get back to work, and more kids will see the dignity and honor of work expressed on the faces of their parents.

reykdal-chrisThe labor family performed with incredible skill this year and the citizens of the state of Washington have only just begun to see the benefits.

Chris Reykdal, a Democratic State Representative serving the 22nd Legislative District, is Chair of the Working Families Caucus.

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!