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Larry Brown-April Sims era begins at WSLC

A standing-room-only crowd packed the WSLC’s Seattle meeting hall for Monday’s ceremony.

SEATTLE (Jan. 8, 2019) — Larry Brown and April Sims were sworn in Monday as executive officers of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the state’s largest union organization, representing the interests of more than 600 local union organizations with some 450,000 rank-and-file members. They begin four-year terms after being elected by the WSLC’s affiliated unions in December.

Outgoing President Jeff Johnson swears in WSLC President Larry Brown.

At Monday’s ceremony, Brown thanked his wife, Donna, and his family, friends and colleagues for supporting both his career advocating for working families and his campaign for WSLC President. He also thanked the outgoing WSLC executive team of Jeff Johnson and Lynne Dodson for their eight years of service and their accomplishments.

“I stand before you today with an enhanced level of confidence and enthusiasm about our labor movement,” Brown told the standing-room-only crowd at Monday’s ceremony. “That confidence is borne of the great opportunities I see to move the agenda for working people here in Washington state.”

Among other examples, he listed WSLC affiliates’ effective engagement of members in response to the Supreme Court’s Janus decision, the Helmets to Hardhats program giving veterans real unionized living-wage job opportunities, and the state’s regional Central Labor Councils recruiting quality candidates for elected office and running successful political action programs.

“But we have much more work to do and we must remain united and strong so we can deliver for Washington’s working families,” Brown added. “Our council must also remain outward facing, working with our community partners. We must continue the social justice and race-and-labor work, and work to address climate change in ways that protect Washington’s working families.”

Prior to his election, Brown served as Legislative and Political Director of Machinists (IAM) District Council 751. He first became a member of the IAM in 1983 as an inspector at Boeing, after serving in the U.S. Navy from 1973-1977. Brown joined the District 751 staff in 1997 and has served as a Business Representative before becoming Political Director. He helped establish the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee and has served on the Board of Trustees for Green River College from 1998-2011 and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges from 2011-present. In 2017, he was also elected to serve on the Auburn City Council.

Also taking the oath of office on Monday was April Sims, who was elected Secretary Treasurer, the WSLC’s chief financial officer of the organization, after serving as WSLC Political and Strategic Campaign Director. She is the first woman of color to be elected as a WSLC executive officer. (Al Brisbois, a member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians who was Secretary Treasurer from 1986 to 1992, was the first person of color to serve as WSLC officer.)

“I didn’t get here alone. No one gets here alone,” Sims said, thanking her husband, Marcus, her children and other family members. “Mine is a family of union educators, nurses, public employees, laborers, plumbers, grocery clerks, truck drivers — a family of survivors and fighters. To my family, thank you, thank you for being here, not just today, but every step of the way.”

“I am looking forward to serving the next four years with President Larry Brown as my partner as we continue to grow good jobs, improve the working and living standards for all Washingtonians, fight for social justice for all working people, and build independent political power for all working families of our state,” Sims said on Monday. “With the support of all of you in this room, over the next four years, we will build worker power, and a united and more inclusive labor movement.”

Prior to joining the WSLC staff in 2015, Sims served as the Legislative and Political Action Field Coordinator for the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE), where she was responsible for member education, communication, and mobilization around legislative issues and political campaigns. She was a WFSE member, shop steward, elected union officer, and union staffer from 2002-15.

“I couldn’t be more pleased and proud to be serving with this dynamic labor leader,” Brown said of Sims. “I have worked with her first as a political organizer with the WFSE and then with the WSLC. She is smart, hardworking, innovative, and a truce-blue trade unionist.”

The WSLC was formed in 1957 with the merger of the Washington Federation of Labor and the Washington Congress of Industrial Organizations Council. The executive officers since that time have been:

E.M Weston (1957-61)
Joe Davis (1962-79)
Marvin Williams (1980-85)
Larry Kenney (1986-92)
Rick Bender (1993-2010)
Jeff Johnson (2011-2018)
Larry Brown (2019-)

Harold Slater (1957-59)
Marvin Williams (1959-79)
Larry Kenney (1980-85)
Al Brisbois (1986-92)
Al Link (1993-2010)
Lynne Dodson (2011-2018)
April Sims (2019-)

Per the WSLC Constitution, Brown and Sims began their four-year terms as WSLC officers effective Jan. 5, 2019. The council’s Vice Presidents who were elected in December will be sworn in at the next WSLC Executive Board meeting on Jan. 30 in Olympia.

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