Training builds worker power

UNITE HERE Local 8 & the WSLC partner on innovative skills-building program


OLYMPIA (March 22, 2023) — Unskilled labor is a myth. All jobs require trained and experienced working people. Training both helps services run smoothly and helps keep workers safe on the job. But too often, access to training is limited by workers’ resources or connections. And when workers can’t access training, they can’t get ahead. 

This is a problem that the WSLC Workforce Development and UNITE HERE Local 8 are partnering to solve in the hospitality industry. The COVID-19 pandemic hit UNITE HERE members especially hard, with astronomically high unemployment rates. But as the hospitality industry continues to recover, Local 8 is using that recovery to ensure better working conditions and stronger job opportunities now, and in the future.

“I am excited to start this training plan for our union members,” said Stefan Moritz, Secretary Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 8. “Unite Here Local 8 is dedicated to advocating for our members and training is a key part of that.”

That’s why UNITE HERE Local 8 and the local labor movement advocated for the creation of the Pacific Northwest Hospitality & Training Fund. Resourced by employers, the fund seeks to provide job training and skills building to workers in the hospitality sector.

Recognizing a need to create an impactful training program, UNITE HERE Local 8 partnered with the WSLC Workforce Development Department, drawing on the training expertise the WSLC staff have developed through years of partnerships with affiliates, workers’ centers, and state programs. 

As a first step, the WSLC Workforce Development Department surveyed union members in English, Spanish, and Chinese languages, gathering information in the planning stages, building a program that is responsive to the diverse needs of working people and centers workers’ voices in the planning process.

“This partnership with UNITE HERE Local 8 is an example of the good work we can do together when we share our skills,” said Rachel McAloon, the WSLC Workforce Development Director leading on this project.“Our team has spent years building training expertise and training-up workers on the skills they need to thrive in our workforce. Combined with the on-the-ground knowledge of workers’ needs that our affiliated unions hold, we are able to build impactful training programs that help workers find greater opportunity in the workforce. WSLC’s workforce development team is ready to help any of our affiliates create similar programs and build power for Washington workers.”

If your union is interested in how training programs can grow, diversify, and strengthen our union workforce, contact Kairie Pierce, Lead Workforce Development Director at kpierce@wslc.org. For updates, follow the WSLC Workforce Development Department on LinkedIn and Facebook.

WSLC Wednesdays is a feature of The Stand where different departments of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO describe their recent activities and the services they are providing to WSLC-affiliated unions.

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