(Jan. 4, 2016) — Eric González Alfaro has joined the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO as Legislative and Policy Director. He will work alongside WSLC Government Affairs Director Joe Kendo to advance the Shared Prosperity agenda of the largest labor organization in Washington state.
González Alfaro recently served as staff lobbyist for Washington’s largest immigrant and refugee rights organization, OneAmerica. There he worked to help close the education opportunity gap, protect voting rights, and defend vulnerable working families from the deregulation of predatory payday lending in our state.
“It is with great pleasure that I announce the hiring of Eric Gonzalez Alfaro as the Legislative and Policy Director of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson. “Eric brings with him experience lobbying at the congressional, state, and local levels. More importantly, Eric is steeped in the working class values that the WSLC and our affiliates stand up for every day. Eric joins an exceptionally strong team at the WSLC and we look forward to working together with him to advance the cause for working people.”
Prior to OneAmerica, González Alfaro served as the director of the Equal Justice Coalition, a non-partisan grassroots organization working to increase federal, state, and local funding for Washington state civil legal aid programs. Because of his work, investments in legal aid increased, further enabling families in crisis avoid foreclosure, thwart fraudulent or predatory practices, protect people from domestic violence and maintain employment, healthcare and a livelihood.
“As a first-generation Mexican-American, son of former migrant farmworkers who continue to rely on apple industry jobs for their livelihood, I understand firsthand the many challenges working class families face in their attempt to reach the American dream,” González Alfaro said. “So I am incredibly honored and privileged to be able to fight for increased economic and social justice as Legislative and Policy Director for the Washington State Labor Council and the thousands of working class people it represents.”
González Alfaro was raised on an orchard a few miles outside East Wenatchee, where throughout his youth surrounded himself among farm laborers and their stories of struggle — many of which mirrored those his father endured in the 1970s traveling job to job in Central Valley, Calif., to the Yakima and Wenatchee valleys. Both his parents adjusted their status in the mid-1980s but lived in the shadows as undocumented workers until then. Eric earned his first paycheck working the fields, planting trees, installing irrigation-lines, thinning and picking apples, and pruning trees down for the winter; this work he often did before and after school to help his parents make ends meet.
His upbringing is why he’s dedicated his professional career to promoting social and economic justice, and to pursuing a life-long goal: giving a voice to those in need.
“We lived in extreme poverty,” González Alfaro said. “Government funded safety-net programs kept my family from falling through the cracks and enabled me to graduate from high school, become the first in my family to graduate from college, and find success in my career as an advocate for underserved and marginalized communities. Without access to safety-net programs, my story could have easily been a much different one. It is their story of struggle and perseverance for a better future that has shaped my perspective and what led me to do the work I do.”
Eric can be reached via email.