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Michael Pichler joins WSLC as Unemployment Insurance Navigator

OLYMPIA (Feb. 19, 2024) — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO has announced the hiring of Michael Pichler as Unemployment Insurance (UI) Navigator as part of a pilot project in collaboration with the Washington State Employment Security Department and the U.S. Department of Labor to assist individuals in navigating the complexities of the UI system.

“We’re very excited to welcome Michael to our Workforce Development team and to add this new service to those the council already provides to Washington workers,” said WSLC President April Sims. “We know Michael will make a big difference for families across the state at the time when they need it most.”

Pichler is a third generation mill worker who operated Continuous Digesters at the Westrock paper mill in Tacoma for 15 years. For the past five years, he has served as Recording Secretary for his union, USW Local 237.

Last year, Westrock announced it would permanently close the mill and, after its last day of production on Sept. 30, 2023, more than 400 employees were put out of work. Since then, Pichler and his union have been working to help those displaced workers access the UI safety net and find new jobs.

As the WSLC’s UI Navigator, a temporary 18-month position, Pichler will provide direct assistance to individuals seeking unemployment insurance benefits and conduct training sessions for unions and community-based organizations to improve understanding of UI eligibility, application processes, appeals, and common issues. He will also work to develop outreach materials and establish partnerships with local agencies and community groups.

“Stepping into my role as an Unemployment Insurance navigator, I am dedicated to assisting individuals through the maze of unemployment benefits,” Pichler said. “My mission is to provide clarity and support during challenging times, ensuring every individual receives the assistance they need to navigate their path forward.”

If you have any questions for Pichler or are interested in UI trainings, contact him at or 360-338-1683.

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