Apply by May 19 for paid internships promoting good jobs and social change
TRI-CITIES, Wash. (May 8, 2023) — Each summer, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO gives a diverse group of people a taste of what it’s like to promote good jobs and social change. Calling the experience “eye-opening” and “life-changing,” many participants have ended up launching careers in Washington’s union movement or with allied community organizations.
This summer, in addition to the Seattle-area cohort, the WSLC is looking for two Union Summer interns to work full time with different campaigns based in and around the Tri-Cities area.
Union Summer is the paid ($20/hour) summer internship program where participants spend an exciting seven weeks — this year, from June 20 to Aug. 5 — getting hands-on experience making a difference in our communities. The program is divided into three main sections: education, actions, and on-the-job training. Weekly schedules can include attending rallies and staffing strike lines, registering voters, making job-site visits with union members, political field work, and more.
APPLY NOW! — Are you or anyone you know interested in working for social change? Applications are now open for Union Summer 2023! The deadline to apply is Friday, May 19. Participants will be working in the Tri-Cities area. (The deadline for applying for the Seattle-area internships has already passed.)
WSLC Secretary Treasurer Cherika Carter has supervised the Union Summer program for the past several years in her former position as the council’s Political and Strategic Campaigns Director, and says it’s been a particularly gratifying project.
“It’s been amazing to facilitate the Union Summer program and watch these inspiring interns make a difference in our communities,” Carter said. “I’m particularly proud and gratified that many of them have gone on to work with the WSLC’s affiliated unions as organizers or in other staff positions. Union Summer has proven to be an investment in the future of Washington’s union movement.”
Some have even come back to help run the Union Summer program for subsequent cohorts.
“I was a Union Summer intern in 2018 and it was such a life-changing experience for me that I was beyond grateful for the opportunity to contribute as 2022’s Program Coordinator,” said Raquel Binford, who is now a Political Organizer for the Coalition for Change. “Having a program like Union Summer is truly special. For many folks like me, it sets the foundation for the important relationships we make with leaders in labor. It was exciting to see last summer’s interns experience the same.”
Among the unions that sponsored and hosted Union Summer interns in 2022 were PROTEC17, Teamsters Joint Council 28, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28, Seattle Education Association, SEIU 775, and of course, the WSLC itself.
Here’s what a typical Union Summer week could look like:
- Tuesday — Attend a rally early in the morning to support striking workers and end the day registering people to vote at a local farmers’ market.
- Wednesday — Make phone calls to union members reminding them to turn in their ballots.
- Thursday — Assist union staff with various responsibilities and attend a lobbying meeting with your supervisor and the mayor.
- Friday — Education Day. Learn about the history of the labor and social justice movements in the Pacific Northwest, and tour historical buildings.
- Saturday — Action Day. Knock on doors and talk to union members about local politics and elections.
Participants in 2021’s Union Summer program made this video explaining how they became interested in the labor movement and what the experience was like.
“My Union Summer experience was truly eye-opening to the world of labor,” said Stefany Greer, who was part of the 2022 cohort assigned as an intern for the WSLC Race & Labor program. “When I was pursuing my degree in American Ethnic Studies/Human Rights, I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go. My time as the Race & Labor Intern showed me that the fight for workers’ rights directly correlates to the societal changes I have always been passionate about.
“Union Summer helped prepare me for the work I am now doing as an external organizer,” Greer added. “I highly recommend the program to anyone who is passionate about worker/racial/gender/economic rights and how they are all interconnected.”