OLYMPIA (Aug. 28, 2018) — Last week, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO welcomed Emmanuel Flores as its new Workforce Development Director. He joins the WSLC workforce development team of Caitlyn Jekel, Bill Messenger, Kairie Pierce and Karen White, who advocate for Washington’s working families from initial entry into the workforce, to career transitions, and when facing job loss.
“We are very excited to have Manny join our workforce development department,” said WSLC President Jeff Johnson. “He brings passion and energy to the council’s advocacy on behalf of laid-off workers, young people just entering the workforce, and those looking to transition into different high-skill high-wage employment.”
Flores joins the WSLC after serving in multiple capacities for Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 73 in Spokane. After graduating Local 73’s apprenticeship program and while working as an electrician, be became active in his union. He was elected as Recording Secretary and named Chair of its political and community committees, eventually getting hired on as Local 73 Registrar. Also active in the Spokane Regional Labor Council and Spokane’s chapter of Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders (WA YELL), Flores was elected to serve as a WSLC Vice President in 2016, representing its 5th District, and soon became Chair of the WSLC Economic Development and Transportation Committee.
“When I was struggling to support my family, my grandfather told me I was a ‘turkey’ for not joining my local union because I was an electrician in the military. He said a business would never pay me a union wage on my own,” Flores said. “I took his advice and through my union not only did I achieve livable family wages, I found my voice in the labor and civil rights movements.”
In his new role with the WSLC, Flores says he looks forward to advocating for laid off workers and ensuring they have access to whatever services they and their family need, promoting access to good-paying career opportunities in registered apprenticeship programs, and making sure labor’s interests are represented in Washington state’s workforce development system.
Flores and his wife Amanda, a Paraprofessional and PSE/SEIU 1948 member, have moved their family — three children, a basset hound and a monk parrot — from Spokane to Olympia.
“These are dark times for many,” Flores said. “Folks are struggling to make ends meet in a divisive political time with surges in racism, school shootings, you name it. But the labor movement was made for times like these. We can help people find the symbolic lighthouse in a storm. We fight for good jobs, better opportunities, apprenticeship and workforce training, racial justice — and we fight even harder in dark times. And when we fight, we win. We win because we are American dream — and we dream big.”