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2019’s freshmen legislators hit ground running in Olympia

Secretary Treasurer’s Column
from the WSLC 2019 Legislative Report

With the current federal administration, the rights we hold dear as Americans and as working people are under attack. We worked hard in 2018 to make sure that those elected to our State Legislature would reflect the needs of Washingtonians, and would reject the racist, classist, and anti-worker policies that have gained traction at the national level.

That hard work paid off, and we saw our values reflected clearly in the freshmen class of legislators who faced Washington’s challenges head-on in the 2019 session.

In the House, Rep. Debra Entenman (D-Kent) was a fierce champion of the Working Families Tax Credit, fighting for needed changes to our upside-down tax code.

Rep. Melanie Morgan (D-Tacoma) joined with workers to protect our rights to provide for our families by supporting legislation to strengthen prevailing wage standards (SB 5035) and the Keep Washington Working Act, a bill strengthening immigrants’ rights in the workplace (HB 5497).

Rep. Dave Paul (D-Oak Harbor) lead on complicated education issues by sponsoring legislation signed by the governor to provide low-income high school students taking college classes resources for tuition and books (HB 1973), and to support the professional development of paraeducators in our public schools (HB 1658).

In the Senate, first-year legislators took on major challenges and tough fights on behalf of workers.

Although appointed midway through the session, Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes) hit the ground running, working on a fair tax code for all by challenging our state’s dependence on regressive taxes.

Sens. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton) and Claire Wilson (D-Auburn) were key supporters of HB 1155, which required uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses and frontline hospital workers, refusing to accept an amendment that would have nonsensically exempted rural hospital workers from these health and safety standards.

Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-Seattle) took aim at our unfair tax code by sponsoring SB 5998, which introduces a graduated real estate excise tax, and was an unwavering supporter of SB 5116, the 100% Clean Energy bill, and worked to ensure strong labor protections remained in the legislation.

Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent) was a tireless advocate for workers, from safety protections for high-risk work, to fixing major gaps in our wrongful injury and death laws and expanding the number of state employees who can collectively bargain.

Each of these legislators voted with labor on each and every legislative priority we worked this year (see the WSLC’s 2019 Voting Record), championing the rights and needs of workers in the face of significant pressure from corporate interests. The energy and passion we’ve seen from these legislators this year fills me with hope for what we can accomplish in the years to come as we continue to build a state with equal access to opportunity for all.

April Sims is Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. 



The WSLC 2019 Legislative Report includes many more articles on rest breaks for nurses and frontline caregivers, post-Janus collective bargaining laws, the state’s biennial budget, non-competition contracts, protecting immigrant workers, the new long-term care public benefit, building trades issues, and much more. Download the full 10-page PDF to read them all, or request the printed edition or call 206-281-8901 to order multiple copies.

The WSLC is the largest union organization in Washington state, representing the interests of more than 600 local unions and councils with approximately 550,000 rank-and-file members. For more information, visit


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