(May 2, 2017) — Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, issued the following statement today regarding former Governor Mike Lowry, who died Monday at the age of 78:
During the May Day march for justice for workers, our communities and immigrant workers, I learned of the passing of Governor Mike Lowry. While we mourn the loss of Mike, a loss which leaves a hole in the heart of Washington state, it is somehow fitting that he died on May Day.
Mike was a man of the people, the “People’s Governor.” He was passionate, animated, and he cared about the working man and woman. He had a straight-forward sincerity about him that welcomed folks to him regardless of their political positions.
As a Congressman, Mike criticized U.S. involvement with the Contras in Central America and as Governor he championed the cause of universal and affordable health care. He was not afraid of big issues.
At a 1992 post-election labor celebration for winning candidates, Mike came up to me and said, “Jeff, I look forward to working with you over the next four years. My door will always be open to you.”
Having never met Mike before, I was quite literally blown away by this and Mike was true to his words.
In his first year in office, he signed major positive reforms of our workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance laws, raised the state minimum wage, created a major workforce development funding program, as well as a universal health care plan. Recognizing that the first bill didn’t adequately cover farm workers, he came back in 1994 and signed a bill that included farm workers.
Mike will be greatly missed. But his legacy as a compassionate leader of the working person will live on forever. Happy May Day, Mike.