WSLC President Jeff Johnson columns on 2016 ballot measures

(October 2016) — Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, is writing a series of opinion columns for The Stand about state and local ballot measures for 2016. The WSLC is the largest labor organization in Washington state, representing the interests of more than 600 union organizations with approximately 450,000 rank-and-file members.

Here are links to Johnson’s columns:

YES on 1433: Good for workers, economy — An estimated 730,000 workers in our state earn less than $13.50 an hour. A typical minimum wage worker in our state is female, single head of household, working full time, and living below the poverty threshold for her family size. I-1433 will change this. A raise to $13.50 an hour will provide a full-time minimum wage worker with an additional $600 a month in their family budget. This will significantly increase their quality of life. I-1433 also will provide up to seven paid safe and sick leave days for all workers in Washington state. At the current time, there are more than 1 million workers who have no right to any paid sick time at all. Read more.

YES on 1501 to protect vulnerable seniors, caregivers — Initiative 1501 recognizes that fraud and identity theft causes huge emotional stress and personal financial loss to consumers, more often than not the elderly and most vulnerable in our society. I-1501 increases civil penalties to three times the actual damages on criminals who defraud senior citizens and other vulnerable people. It prevents government from releasing information that could provide criminals with what they need to effectively target seniors and the vulnerable. It also protects the personal information of in-home caregivers.

NO on 732: It’s a giant misstep on climate policy — Initiative 732, the carbon tax measure on November’s ballot, is opposed or not supported by the labor movement, communities of color and social justice organizations, most environmental organizations, businesses, the Washington State Democratic Party, the Washington State Republican Party, and many others. Why is that? For most of us, it is not because it puts a price on carbon. It’s because it does it the wrong way. I-732 is a giant misstep and the climate crisis that we face is so serious that we need to get the policy right the first time. I-732 is a “pass-it-now, fix-it-later” experiment that we cannot afford. Read more.

YES on 735: The road to restoring democracy — Money in politics has always been a problem in the United States. But now with income and wealth inequality rivaling what it was during the gilded age and a couple of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, our democracy is in crisis… Initiative 735 is a positive first step towards restoring democracy in the United States. I-735 calls for Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and related campaign finance decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and declare that “constitutional rights belong only to individuals, not corporations, and constitutionally protected speech excludes the spending of money.”

APPROVE Sound Transit Prop. 1 (ST3) to invest in jobs, our future — Voting for Sound Transit Proposition 1 (ST3) in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties is an investment in our future. It is an investment in jobs. It is an investment in congestion relief and a higher quality of life. It is an investment in lowering carbon pollution and a cleaner environment. It is an investment that will benefit our children and grandchildren for decades to come. Read more.

APPROVE Spokane Prop. 1 for mass transit, jobs — Spokane Transit Authority Proposition 1 is a major investment in mass transit, congestion reduction, connecting workers to jobs, residents to appointments, and reducing carbon pollution… Please join labor, community, and business organizations throughout the Spokane region, as well as local and statewide elected officials, in supporting Proposition 1.

YES on Seattle I-124 to protect hotel workers — Hotel workers in Seattle and UNITE HERE Local 8 have brought to the November ballot a critical initiative to improve employment standards in the hospitality industry and to protect female workers from sexual assault and harassment. City of Seattle Initiative 124 creates a protocol to protect female housekeepers and ensure that the city’s hotels take responsibility for protecting them. Housekeepers would be provided with panic buttons to use whenever they witness a crime, sexual harassment, or an emergency and would be able to immediately leave the area without fear of being retaliated against by the employer for leaving their post. Read more.

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