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When we work together, we win

The following story appears in the Washington State Labor Council’s 2018 Legislative Report (HTML or PDF) published in May.


The Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council entered the 2018 legislative session with two main goals in mind: to create jobs for our members, and to make sure those jobs are the best jobs possible. Due to the hard work of our affiliates and their members, and the labor committee chairs and their staffs, the building trades community of unions brought a lot home in 2018.

Had we only passed SB 5493, sponsored by Sen. Steve Conway (D-Tacoma), which sets prevailing wages using collective bargaining agreements, we would have been pleased. Had the only bills passed been SB 5493 and the SSB 1723, the Hanford workers’ compensation bill sponsored by Rep. Larry Haler (R-Richland), we would have been very pleased. Happily, I can report that those two high priority bills are now law.

But we didn’t stop there.

Building trades unions supported passage of bills improving enforcement of apprenticeship utilization laws so that the next generation of trades men and women gain the skills needed to maintain and build our state’s infrastructure (HB 1849). When that infrastructure is built, contractors will get some basic training courses to ensure they know the rules and laws that support our wages and our training opportunities (HB 1673). And if they fail to pay the prevailing wage, workers will no longer get caught up in complicated complaint filing deadlines while L&I investigates (HB 1672).

We need to properly direct our thanks, and I’ll start by thanking each and every person who supported, campaigned, leafleted, walked and stood up for Manka Dhingra to be elected senator of the 45th Legislative District last fall. That allowed all of the good work of so many over the past five years to come to fruition this session. Majorities matter. It is a great testament to the fact that when we as a labor movement do the work, have patience, and persevere, our good works will be rewarded.

While we do not always see eye to eye with each other, within our trades unions, and within the labor movement over all, the successes of the 2018 show what is possible when we work together, and support each other.

Now, let’s get back to work.

Mark Riker is Executive Secretary of the Washington State Building Trades.

Click here to see more reports from the Washington State Labor Council’s 2018 Legislative Report. Or download the entire 8-page PDF.

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