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WSLC supports I-735 to get big money out of elections

I-735-WAmend(Aug. 11, 2015) — The labor movement of Washington state is now on record: Corporations are not people. And money is not speech.

At the 2015 Convention of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO last month, delegates representing unions from across the state approved a resolution supporting I-735, an initiative for the legislature that would petition Congress to put forth a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

TAKE A STAND — This week, attorney and political activist David Cobb will be speaking about the need for I-735 and how big corporations have systematically carved out constitutional rights intended for we, the people, and used them against what’s in the people’s best interests. He’ll be speaking Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Traditions Cafe in Olympia, Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at IBEW 46, Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at IBEW 76 in Tacoma, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Seattle Labor Temple. Click here for details.

I-735’s proposed constitutional amendment would clarify that constitutional rights belong only to individuals, not corporations; spending money is not free speech under the First Amendment; governments are empowered to regulate political contributions and expenditures to prevent undue influence; and political contributions and expenditures must be promptly disclosed to the public.

Resolution #1 calls for the the WSLC to support the effort by Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution (WAmend) to collect at least 330,000 signatures by Dec. 31, 2015, to get I-735 on next year’s general election ballot, to support the measure in next year’s legislative session and block efforts to weaken it with competing resolutions, and to support the campaign efforts to promote its passage next fall.

To that end, the WSLC has sent a letter to all its affiliated unions informing them of the resolution, enclosing I-735 petitions, and urging unions to fill the petitions with signatures.

Here is the text of that letter from WSLC President Jeff Johnson to affiliates:

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

Each day, it becomes clearer that the labor movement cannot compete politically with money; our strength is in our members and speaking to community allies. The Koch Brothers, we are told, are likely to spend close to a billion dollars in the 2016 elections. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Corporate money in politics is entirely out of control! It is time to get corporate money out of politics. It is time to overturn Citizens United.

There are two ways to do this: Congress can pass a constitutional amendment, which then has to be ratified by two-thirds of the states, or a constitutional convention can be called for. Both methods are difficult but a constitutional convention, where any issue came be addressed once the convention is convened, is dangerous.

Resolution #1, passed at our 2015 WSLC Convention, puts labor on record supporting I-735, an initiative to the legislature that would petition Congress to put forth a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. This would remove first amendment free speech rights from corporations and take corporate money out of politics. I have enclosed two signature sheets for I-735 and ask that you make a commitment to fill them up with signatures of registered voters and return to the WSLC offices by no later than November 30, 2015.

I also want to bring to your attention the formation of a new group, Middle Class Alliance, led by former Washington State Representative Tim Probst. This new organization is working to collect signatures to pass I-735 and overturn Citizens United and is also working with others to educate voters around the need to pass a 2016 initiative to the people to raise the state minimum wage and to provide paid safe and sick leave. You can see a short video of their work and how to get involved with Middle Class Alliance by going to this link:

The Middle Class Alliance is also available to make a short presentation at one of your meetings, to view the video, sign members onto I-735, and sign members up as early supporters of the 2016 minimum wage initiative. For easy instructions on how to do this, and the handout materials, email

Thank you.

In Solidarity,

Jeffrey G. Johnson, President

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