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Initiative 1000’s passage is a victory for the people

We can’t have shared success without shared opportunities for all Washingtonians



(May 2, 2019) — Initiative 1000 is the people’s movement, a movement for fairness and opportunity for all. And its subsequent victory, is the people’s victory as well.

This past year, people came together from all walks of life to support I-1000, gathering a historic number of signatures — nearly 400,000 — to petition the Legislature to pass I-1000. This Initiative to the Legislature proposed an end to the state’s I-200 ban on affirmative action programs that provide equal opportunity in education, employment and contracting. I-1000 set out to ensure fair opportunities for women, veterans, people with disabilities, and all people of color.

And last Sunday, the Legislature recognized the will of the people. After months of calls, emails, letters, and dialogue calling for fairness and opportunity for us all, lawmakers approved I-1000. With its passage, all Washingtonians will now have the opportunity to share in our state’s success.

No matter where we come from or what our color, Washingtonians are working for a better life. Today, greedy corporate interests profit by suppressing wages and trying to divide us in every imaginable way, so that we blame each other. But seeing through the rhetoric and divide-and-conquer scheme, we’ve come together, people from all walks of life, to support I-1000 so we can advance living standards for everyone, and not just the wealthy few, securing a better life for us all.

Washington’s three former governors — Dan Evans (R), Gary Locke (D), and Christine Gregoire (D) — all came to Olympia to testify in support of Initiative 1000.

Those of us who support I-1000 are saying “no” to discrimination and demanding better wages and jobs for everyone regardless of color or background. We want to make sure that small businesses have the opportunity to compete for government contracts. And we are advocating to make sure that students in our state have access to affordable and quality higher education.

We recognize that we can’t have shared success without shared opportunities for all Washingtonians.

It’s good for our economy and families when women have equal opportunities to succeed. But in 2019, women in Washington  still earn just 80 cents for every dollar a man earns on average, and women of color make even less. Wage discrimination hurts our families, and us all. I-1000 will remedy that to ensure half of our state’s population — women — are treated fairly and have opportunities to succeed. Those opportunities will be protected by law.

Our veterans put their lives at risk for our country, but many come home unable to find a good paying job. Often, they are told they don’t have enough experience or qualifications, even after they have been honorably discharged. Our veterans have risked it all for us, and I-1000 will ensure they are treated fairly when seeking business, employment, or educational opportunities.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, providing both entrepreneurial and job opportunities for working families. But today, too many small businesses, particularly those owned by women and minorities, are left out of being awarded government contracts. This stifles growth and discourages entrepreneurship, the very things that make Washington state a great place to live. I-1000 will make sure that all government contracting is awarded in a fair and equal manner, helping our small businesses grow and succeed.

All of us want to live in a better Washington, but when certain people in our community are denied chances to succeed in business, schools, and workplaces because of who they are, those lost opportunities and wages hold us all back. Up to $1 billion have been lost in jobs and wages in our state since 1998 due to lost employment opportunities as a result of discrimination. I-1000 supporters want to make sure Washington state’s economy is one that works for all people, of all colors, and all backgrounds and we believe that I-1000 will help to make Washington a more equitable state for all of its people.

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is proud to be a supporter of I-1000. As the preamble to our Constitution states:

“We shall combat resolutely the forces that seek to undermine the democratic institutions of our nation and to enslave the human soul. We shall strive always to win full respect for the dignity of the human individual whom our unions serve.”

In upholding those values and commitments, delegates to the WSLC’s Committee on Political Education (COPE) Convention in May 2018 voted unanimously to support I-1000. They did this because they knew then, just as they know now, that an injury to one is an injury to all.

When there is discrimination in hiring and promotion practices, educational opportunities, and government contracting for small businesses, hardworking Washingtonians are the ones who lose. And Washington’s working families are committed to fighting for us all, regardless of color or background, until we all win.

Cherika Carter is Field Mobilization Director of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

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