Every year, delegates to the Washington State Labor Council convention discuss, deliberate and act on resolutions submitted by the affiliated union locals and councils. These resolutions establish policy, programs and action for the WSLC. The following were passed by delegates at the WSLC’s 2009 Convention held Aug. 6-8 in Wenatchee.
(Some resolution numbers are skipped because those proposed resolutions were withdrawn, tabled or rejected by delegates, or combined with another similar submission.)
RESOLUTION TO REMOVE SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J. ASTRUE
WHEREAS, Commissioner Michael J. Astrue has refused to work with the employee representatives (AFGE, ALJ/IFPTE) towards the mission of the Agency in providing outstanding service to the American public; and
WHEREAS, Commissioner Astrue has implemented policies and procedure changes without sufficient testing and employee input, thus placing the public at great risk to be disadvantaged in their benefit choices; and
WHEREAS, Commissioner Astrue has disadvantages unrepresented claimants in disability hearings by not providing sufficient staff to explain new electronic processes, such as their electronic disability file; and
WHEREAS, trained SSA workers are now being instructed not to question an applicant’s month of election, even when the choice may be disadvantageous to the applicant; and
WHEREAS, SSA employees are now being instructed in some sites to direct applicants to the internet to file for benefits, even though they have come into a field office to be interviewed by an SSA employee; and
WHEREAS, on March 3, 2009, the AFL-CIO Executive Board urged immediate presidential action to remove Michael J. Astrue as commissioner of the Social Security Administration for his neglect of duty in administering the Social Security Administration and its programs; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council will stand with the National AFL-CIO, with the American Federation of Government Employees, and with the Association of Administrative Law Judges/International Federation of Professional and Technical employees in calling upon the president and Congress to remove Michael J. Astrue as Commissioner of the Social Security Administration as he has neglected his duty to carry out the mission of Social Security as Mandated by law and Congress.
SUPPORTING THE LABOR FRAMEWORK ON IMMIGRATION
WHEREAS, immigration is a contentious and important issue which can divide workers against each other; and
WHEREAS, America has never had a coherent immigration policy, but instead our immigration law has been used by employers to marginalize workers and prevent them from exercising rights or expressing their market power; and
WHEREAS, our current immigration policy results in a downward spiral, but the five elements of the proposed immigration framework, taken together, can provide an upward spiral for all workers, domestic and foreign; and
WHEREAS, Ray Marshall, former Secretary of Labor and recognized authority on workforce issues has developed a five-point framework that protects domestic workers and immigrants, and creates a sustainable immigration policy based on reliable data and professional analysis of labor markets; and
WHEREAS, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win Executive Boards have endorsed this immigration framework, and intend to use it as the common policy recommendation of the labor community in passing Federal immigration reform; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council endorses Ray Marshall’s labor framework on immigration as the basis for advocating for a new immigration policy for the United States; and, be it finally
RESOLVED, that this resolution support Resolution #5 from the 2007 WSLC Convention.
SUPPORTING THE TRADE ACT OF 2009
WHEREAS, advocates of globalization and free trade policies promised workers millions of new high wage jobs, access to markets, balanced trade in goods and services, a solution to our immigration problems, and shared prosperity; and
WHEREAS, in our experience with free trade policies over the last several decades, we have seen all of those promises broken, and instead these policies led to de-industrialization of our economy, millions of good jobs lost, huge flows of capital investment going overseas in search of cheap labor, increasing concentrations of income and wealth at the top levels of our population with downward wage pressures for the large majority of workers, and displacement of millions of workers in Latin America and our other trading partners; and
WHEREAS, many developing countries have organized against globalization and the free trade policies that have imposed economic losses on working families in their countries and in erosion of the middle class in ours; and
WHEREAS, candidates in the presidential campaigns promised a review of our failed trade policies and the introduction of new policies that balance the interests of workers, the environment, human rights and public health more fairly with the interests of multinational businesses and investors; and
WHEREAS, HR 3012 the TRADE Act of 2009, serves as a marker bill to begin the discussion of “what we want” in a new trade policy that promotes a balanced, sustainable, and fair trade policy; and
WHEREAS, over 350 organizations devoted to labor rights, human rights, the environment, and public health have endorsed HR 3012 the TRADE Act and encouraged elected representatives to pass it in the 111th Congress; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council endorses HR 3012 the TRADE Act of 2009, and will advocate for its passage by Congress.
SUPPORTING THE PAID VACATION ACT OF 2009, HR 2564
WHEREAS, the United States is the only industrial country without a law guaranteeing paid vacation time for workers; and
WHEREAS, all European workers are guaranteed four weeks of paid annual vacation by law; and
WHEREAS, last year the median paid vacation time for American workers was one week; and
WHEREAS, 31% of low-income Americans and 37% of low-income American women workers receive no paid vacation time at all; and
WHEREAS, studies show that regular vacations greatly reduce the risk of heart problems and stress-related mental illnesses, which could save thousands of lives, and also reduce health care costs; and
WHEREAS, vacations have been shown to be an important family bonding opportunity and the family vacation is among the strongest memories children retain in adulthood; and
WHEREAS, vacation time has actually been shown to increase the productivity of workers; and
WHEREAS, a paid vacation law would help all workers and would therefore strengthen the Washington State Labor Council’s image as an advocate for all workers and strengthen connections with many other groups; and
WHEREAS, a law guaranteeing paid vacation time is a positive step toward improved quality of life rather than simply a reaction to difficult times; and
WHEREAS, such a law would provide a permanent change and set a new floor for collective bargaining, so that unions could focus on other issues; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council endorses the HR 2564, the Paid Vacation Act of 2009, and will advocate for its passage by Congress.
SUPPORTING THE HEALTHY FAMILIES ACT, HR 2460
WHEREAS, nearly half (48%) of private sector workers and nearly 80% of low-wage workers don’t get a single paid sick day to recover from illness, and 94 million workers don’t have a single paid sick day to care for a sick family member; and
WHEREAS, workers without sick leave are forced to choose between going to work when they or a family member are sick or losing a day’s pay or even losing a job; and
WHEREAS, parents of sick children may feel pressure to send them to school or daycare when they have no paid sick leave potentially infecting other children and families; and
WHEREAS, studies show Paid sick leave would make workers more productive and reduce the spread of pandemic and seasonal flu resulting in significant savings to our economy, avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations, bringing health care costs down and saving lives; and
WHEREAS, workplace policies for families in the United States are weaker than those of all high-income countries and many middle- and low-income countries; most notably, the U.S. is one of only five countries out of 173 surveyed that does not guarantee some form of paid maternity leave; the others are Lesotho, Liberia, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea; and
WHEREAS, a recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found no statistically significant relationship between national unemployment rates and legally-mandated paid sick days; and the study included 22 highly developed countries which all have the same level of economic development as the United States; and
WHEREAS, HR 2460 would require certain employers, who employ fifteen (15) or more employees for each working day during twenty (20) or more workweeks a year, to provide a minimum paid sick leave of: (1) seven days annually for those who work at least 30 hours per week; and (2) a prorated annual amount for those who work less than 30 but at least 20 hours a week, or less than 1,500 but at least 1,000 hours per year; and allows employees to use such leave to meet their own medical needs or to care for the medical needs of certain family members; and
WHEREAS, the Healthy Families Act would set a new floor for collective bargaining so that unions could focus on other issues, and would help all workers and, therefore, strengthen the Washington State Labor Council’s connections with many other groups; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council endorses HR 2460, the Healthy Families Act, and will advocate for its passage by Congress.
SUPPORTING THE PAYCHECK FAIRNESS ACT, S. 182 AND HR 12
WHEREAS, discrimination against women in employment continues to occur in spite of legislation, litigation and growing public sentiment against such discrimination; and
WHEREAS, women continue to receive lower wages than men for comparable work in many occupations and industries, including many women represented by Washington State Labor Council affiliates; and
WHEREAS, gender-based pay disparities penalize many single parent families, households with two wage-earners, and becomes a further burden in bad economic times when many two-worker households are forced to rely on women’s income; and
WHEREAS, pay disparities reduce retirement benefits over the course of a career; and
WHEREAS, the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182 and HR 12) will require employers to demonstrate that wage differences between men and women doing the same work have a business justification, and are truly the result of factors other than sex; protects employees from retaliation for discussing their wages or inquiring about pay practices; and strengthens penalties for violations of equal pay provisions; and
WHEREAS, HR 12 easily passed in the House with bipartisan support, and S. 182 has 31 co-sponsors in the Senate; and
WHEREAS, the Paycheck Fairness Act is a reasonable and practical step to help close the wage gap between men and women; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council endorses the S. 182, and HR 12, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and will advocate for its passage by Congress.
PROTEST DEEP CUTS IN PUBLIC SERVICES AND ESCALATING JOB LOSSES AND DEMAND A SOLUTION – TAX THE WEALTHY AND CORPORATE PROFITS
WHEREAS, in a time of economic crisis when public services are needed more than ever, the 2009 session of the Washington State Legislature covered a $9 billion revenue shortfall by passing an all-cuts budget that slashed such vital services as health care, education, parks, and assistance for the needy; and
WHEREAS, the state budget for the next two years will result in at least 7,000 layoffs of public workers, as well as pay freezes, furloughs, and reduced state contributions to health care and pensions for thousands of public sector employees; and
WHEREAS, with several thousand layoffs at Boeing and Microsoft, the state’s unemployment rate has reached a 25-year high of 9.4% and will climb higher with mass layoffs throughout the public and private sectors; and
WHEREAS, Washington’s tax structure, which relies heavily on volatile sales taxes, is increasingly inadequate to fund needed services, and is the most regressive in the nation – the poorest 20% of state residents pay 17% of their income in taxes while the richest 1% pay only 3.6%; and
WHEREAS, the wealthy can afford to pay more taxes since over the last quarter century wealth has concentrated even more in their hands, with over 90% of the gains from economic growth going to the richest 10% of the population; and
WHEREAS, after receiving a great deal of support and money from labor, the Democrats in the state legislature sided with the corporate elite and resolved the budget crisis solely on the backs of workers and the poor by refusing to tax the wealthy or corporate profits, and by passing unemployment tax breaks for big business, despite rising unemployment; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) will urge its affiliates to work with other unions and community groups to organize a week of action sometime between the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2010 to protest state budget cuts and escalating job losses; and, be it further
RESOLVED, that the protests demand a fair and stable tax system that taxes the wealthy and corporate profits in order to fund the following:
1. Rollback of state budget cuts to health care, human services, education, natural resources, other public services, and state pensions, as well as increases in services to meet previously unmet needs;
2. Distribution of funds to city and county governments to restore and expand services slashed as a result of budget shortfalls;
3. Programs to provide jobs to the unemployed by pursuing socially beneficial projects, such as construction of public housing; and, be it finally
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council work in conjunction with AFSCME Council 28 to coordinate, facilitate, and lead on a statewide level a week of action that includes rallies (like the Health Care for All March on May 30, 2009), as well as smaller actions such as press conferences and forums, and that the WSLC actively seek the involvement of all unions, as well as reach out to communities that are being hardest hit by the budget and economic crisis.
USE OF UNION TALENT IN AUDIO AND VIDEO PRODUCTIONS
WHEREAS, Washington State boasts many of America’s most talented audio and video performers and production workers; and
WHEREAS, the best and most professional of those workers are members of five AFL-CIO member unions, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Operators (IATSE), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and American Federation of Musicians (AFM); and
WHEREAS, those performers want to be financially responsible for providing their own health insurance and retirement benefits; and
WHEREAS, they can only pay into those benefit plans through contributions earned while working under union contracts; and
WHEREAS, the proven cost difference between work done under a union contract and that done outside of union agreements is negligible; and
WHEREAS, it is in the direct interest of all labor organizations to encourage and support the work of brother and sister unions; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that member unions of the Washington State Labor Council shall produce all live productions and trade shows, and electronically-generated or recorded media projects, for broadcast or internal use, under contracts with AFTRA, SAG, IATSE, IBEW or AFM, and that they employ only members of those unions in those productions; and, be it finally
RESOLVED, that members of the Washington State Labor Council shall encourage their employers, both private and public, to likewise produce all live productions and trade shows, and electronically-generated or recorded media projects, for broadcast or internal use, under contracts with AFTRA, SAG, IATSE, IBEW or AFM, and that they employ only members of those unions in those productions.
CONCERNING THE STATE OF WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF RETIREMENT SYSTEM AND EMPLOYEES WHO RETIRE WITH A DISABILITY DUE TO UNITED STATES COAST GUARD NVIC 04-08
WHEREAS, the State of Washington’s Department of Retirement System PERS 2 and PERS 3 plans actuarially reduce the amount of income an employee receives when an employee retires before age 62 due to a disability; and
WHEREAS, the United States Coast Guard requires employees working aboard the Washington State Ferries to have merchant mariner’s documents (MMDs) and licenses; and
WHEREAS, the USCG has issued new medical and physical guidelines, called NVIC 04-08, that are now in effect; and
WHEREAS, some employees may no longer be able to work in their capacity on the ferries due to ‘failing’ the guidelines as required by a USCG certified physical every five years and therefore become disabled; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, that should an employee working aboard any Washington State Ferry who, through no fault of their own, be forced to retire with a disability due to failing the USCG medical and physical guidelines known as NVIC 04-08, then that employee’s retirement income will not be actuarially reduced (based on their age and years of service) if at that time he or she is under 62 years of age; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, shall make it a priority to include this resolution concerning Washington State Ferry employees who work aboard the ferries and become disabled due to USCG NVIC 04-08 as part of its legislative agenda for the 2010 session of the Washington State Legislature; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, shall lobby the Washington State Legislature during the 2010 Washington State legislative session to waive the actuarial reduction of income for employees who work on board Washington State Ferries who are forced to retire on a disability before the age of 62 due to USCG NVIC 04-08.
SUPPORT OF PREVAILING WAGE ON PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS
WHEREAS, the first national prevailing wage law embedded in the National Eight-Hour Day Act of 1868 was designed to create safer working conditions, longer and better quality lives and an increase in the aggregate of human happiness; and
WHEREAS, in 1931, understanding the need to further stabilize local contractors and skilled workers in the construction industry, the United States federal government further established a fair system to monitor and protect local bidders and wages paid on public works construction projects by enacting the federal Davis-Bacon Act introduced by republicans who garnered strong bi-partisan support for strengthening prevailing wage laws on federal public works; and
WHEREAS, individual states have understood the United States Constitution does not allow the federal government to stipulate state construction contract requirements, 42 states have at some time enacted a state’s “little Davis-Bacon Act” as far back as 1891 in Kansas, 1894 in New York, and in 1945, Washington State’s Public Works Act was enacted to promote fair and stable local markets in public works construction for all construction workers and contractors, union and non union; and
WHEREAS, Washington and other states across the Nation are increasingly entering into an era where public and private partnerships are being formed as a mechanism to adequately fund public works construction projects; and
WHEREAS, the 2005 Legislature of Washington State passed into law the Transportation Innovative Partnership Act with bi-partisan approval further specifying the application of prevailing wage laws apply to the entire innovative partnership between public and private entities by including the language: “If public funds are used to pay any costs of construction of a public facility that is part of an eligible project, chapter 39.12 RCW applies to the entire eligible public works project”; and
WHEREAS, utilization of future innovative funding proposals for public and private partnerships can be expected to prevail in Washington’s future to construct, refurbish and rebuild the necessary projects in transportation, education, health care, energy, housing, water, sewer and other common public investments throughout our state and across our boarders; and
WHEREAS, since the late 19th century, payment of local prevailing wages continues to prove to stabilize the contractor and skilled labor force of a community that, in turns, reinvests in the very tax base that drives public works investment; and
WHEREAS, Washington State’s current and future growth and infrastructure needs for new, refurbished, rebuilt and maintained construction projects is unmatched in any period of Washington State’s history; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that in order to maximize the full value of public infrastructure investments, such application of public funds, tax incentives, leases, or property exchanges prevailing wage must be applied to continue and produce opportunities for creating livable communities through family wage jobs, education and the promotion of local hire; and be it further
RESOLVED, that every Affiliate Council and Local Union affiliated with the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, place in consideration the promotion and clarifying protections of prevailing wage laws on all phases of publicly funded construction projects as a priority campaign to locally elected and appointed public leaders; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, place as priority legislation prevailing wage coverage on all public/private joint ventures and partnerships, and that all public/private projects new, refurbished, rebuilt and maintained be constructed at the established local prevailing wages for the area in which the work is performed, and at the proper rate of pay and classification of workers; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, transmit a copy of this resolution to all relevant sources in order to demonstrate its ardent support of promoting, protecting, and enforcing prevailing wage laws in all public and public/private works construction projects.
MEMORIAL RECOGNITION OF BOB MARKHOLT, A LABOR MOVEMENT ADVOCATE AND BROTHER TO ALL
WHEREAS, July 19, 2009 marked the passing of Bob Markholt, a Brother unionist, community reformer and advocate for young adults and pre-apprenticeship in the building and construction trades; and
WHEREAS, Brother Bob Markholt’s life was reflected in his love for his family, positive action for his community and a body of work that created opportunity for Seattle/King County students that will stand as his legacy and challenge to each of us to do more for our young neighbors who deserve a better chance at building their lives through education and acquired skill in an honorable, stable profession; and
WHEREAS, Brother Bob Markholt’s passing from our ranks as an educator and labor leader creates a void in the lives of so many over the years who have called Bob their friend, mentor and life coach who worked to improved the quality and diversity of pre apprentices prepared to enter the construction industry; and
WHEREAS, throughout Brother Bob Markholt’s life he represented a triumphant story over hardships with positive thinking, dedicated action, perseverance and accountability for his personal actions, and that of our collective community body to take a stand for what’s fair and just as a society to value each individual and to help raise their self-esteem and ability to care for themselves and one another; and
WHEREAS, Brother Bob Markholt’s voice and personal dedication to his community is now a part of his family’s extensive union legacy whose torch has passed to their survivors to carry forward Brother Markholt’s mission to assist the young adult population of struggling individual who desperately need the opportunity of his teachings in their lives; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that in remembrance and honor of Bob Markholt each member of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, will advance the vision of Brother Markholt to endorse, support and promote the national Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO’s Multi Craft Core Curriculum designed specifically for pre apprentice and young adult education and training; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, will establish and maintain a minimum yearly scholarship of $500 for disadvantaged young men and women to attend the Seattle Vocational Institute titled the Bob Markholt Memorial Scholarship in honor and memory of Brother Bob Markholt’s dedication and talent to construct achievable pathways out of poverty; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that beginning in 2009 the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, in honor of Brother Bob Markholt’s life and community advocacy, will request yearly matching scholarship contributions of a minimum of $500 from both the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO and the Seattle-King County Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, and any other public or private organization with a mission to support pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship and skills improvement within a state-approved program for the building and construction trades as a fitting memorial to Brother Markholt’s commitment to diversity and disadvantaged young adults in every community.
IN SUPPORT OF THE WASHINGTON LABOR ARCHIVE (WLA)
WHEREAS, the Washington State Labor Council aggressively supports the Harry Bridges Chair for Labor Studies, created in 1992 by International Longshore and Warehouse Union activists to honor the memory of their great founder and long time president, Harry Bridges, to help carry on his work fighting for the dignity of labor and its place in history; and
WHEREAS, working people and their unions built this state and this nation and if that awareness is lost, the labor movement will weaken and democracy itself could be threatened. History matters and it needs to be preserved and used; and
WHEREAS, for decades the University of Washington Special Collections Library has served as the repository for the records of the State Labor Council, several county labor councils and many unions, leaders and activists; and
WHEREAS, this library has suffered funding cut-backs and for some time has been unable to process donated collections meaning that vital historical documents remain inaccessible, raising the concern that other materials will not find a home at the major research library of the Pacific Northwest and that history will be lost; and
WHEREAS, the Washington Labor Archives (WLA) will combine the dozens of labor collections already housed in the library with new collections that will be added in the years ahead and that the WLA will be managed by a professional labor archivist who will be employed by the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at UW; and
WHEREAS, the labor archivist will supervise the development of the Labor Archive, adding to and organizing the historical materials already deposited in Special Collections Library, that the labor archivist will also work with unions, advising them on records management and arranging for the donation and processing of materials to the Labor Archive and, in addition, the labor archivist will develop educational projects and materials that will be widely accessible to union members, schools; and the general public and that the WLA will be both a repository and a vehicle for teaching about the vital history and vital present of unions in our region; and
WHEREAS, the Washington labor community supports a campaign to raise $100,000 per year to pay salary and benefits for a labor archivist and also fund an ongoing program of labor heritage and labor education events; that campaign will secure at least five years of funding until the WLA is able to have a permanent endowment in place and is able to attract grants from foundations and governmental sources; and
WHEREAS, the Washington State Labor Council and the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies have each pledged $10,000 per year for three years and the Northwest locals and rank and file members of the ILWU have pledged their support; and
WHEREAS, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has pledged $50,000 in matching funding for each of the next three years; and
WHEREAS, recent fundraising has produced 40 total donations since August 1, 2008 totaling $31,530 (this includes $1,200 made in 2008 that is ineligible for ILWU matching funds); and
WHEREAS, the goal of funding a full time labor archivist to manage this labor history program will only be realized if the labor community digs deep and succeeds in raising a total of $200,000 over the next two year cycle (2009-2010); now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington labor community commit to raising the required funding; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the WSLC will convene a committee of key labor leaders to develop a funding campaign that will realize the great opportunity presented: that a permanent labor archives program at the University of Washington not only gives the state a centrally located repository for archival collections but may, one day, facilitate similar efforts throughout the state where appropriate.
A UNITED LABOR MOVEMENT: TOGETHER WE’RE STRONGER
WHEREAS, this is a time of great opportunity for our labor movement; for the first time in decades, we have the promise of real change restored bargaining rights through the Employee Free Choice Act, real health care reform, and the start of rebuilding our economy and building a society where workers have a place at the table; and
WHEREAS, it has never been more important for the union movement to be united so that we can fully take advantage of these opportunities. Together, were stronger. That’s true for us within CWA and true for the entire labor movement; and
WHEREAS, all of us AFL-CIO unions, Change to Win unions and NEA worked together to elect President Obama and Vice President Biden; a House of Representatives with a Speaker and strong majority that support working families, and a Senate that give us the first real opportunity in years to advance needed legislation without the threat of filibuster; and
WHEREAS, the historic accomplishments of Labor 2008 showed what we can achieve working together. In many ways, that success bolstered the effort to achieve labor reunification that already was underway; and
WHEREAS, CWA has been a leader in this effort to bring unity to our labor movement. The process has encouraged and advanced substantive discussion by leading unions in AFL-CIO and Change to Win, the two federations, and especially important, the National Education Association, all with the goal of moving toward a united labor movement; and
WHEREAS, NEA, with more than 3 million members is an important ally in everything we do. The NEA already has been working with central labor councils and other union organizations. A united labor movement, with NEA as a full partner, can only increase our effectiveness in states and communities and enable a united movement that’s 16 million-members-strong to speak with a single voice; and
WHEREAS, together, were stronger, whether were working in communities, through local labor councils, or lobbying state legislatures or taking our message to Congress and the Administration; and
WHEREAS, the first steps are underway. In April, the AFL-CIO, Change to Win and NEA established a National Labor Coordinating Committee, with representatives from each organization, which has been meeting and working toward unification and for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act; and
WHEREAS, there is more work to do to reach our goal, and that is a labor movement that can speak and act nationally on the critical issues facing working Americans, one that will create the political and economic climate that enables working families to thrive; and
WHEREAS, that we are in a unique moment in history, having elected a President and Vice President who support workers, as well as a House of Representatives and Senate with Employee Free Choice majorities; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, to change our nation and create a society in which workers have real voice and a seat at the table, we must change ourselves. That means exploring new ways of working together with the AFL-CIO, CTW and NEA and new ways of supporting each others campaigns; and, be it further
RESOLVED, that WSLC leadership on every level will work together wherever possible with AFL-CIO and Change to Win and the NEA; and, be it finally
RESOLVED, that WSLCA Leadership continue to participate in discussions to unite the AFL-CIO, Change to Win and NEA, with the goal of creating a unified labor movement that advances the interests of all working families.
IMPLICATIONS OF FATIGUE ON PATIENT AND NURSE SAFETY
WHEREAS, the use of extended work shifts, overtime and missed breaks is a regular occurrence in hospitals; and
WHEREAS, the nursing shortage and economic cutbacks have caused an increase in occurrences where nurses are being required to work extended shifts, additional overtime, and are increasingly unable to take their rest breaks; and
WHEREAS, the Institute of Medicine and other recent empirical research have demonstrated that risks of nurses making a patient error are significantly increased when they are fatigued and not adequately rested; for example, fatigue and patient errors increase when work shifts are longer than twelve hours, when nurses work overtime, when they work without rest breaks or when they work more than forty hours per week; and
WHEREAS, current state regulations allow intermittent breaks whose usage by hospitals often result in nurses, technical workers and all health care workers not receiving breaks at all; and
WHEREAS, no state or federal regulations restrict the number of hours a nurse may work in twenty-four hours or in a seven-day period, even though they do so for air traffic controllers, train engineers, truck drivers, airline pilots and flight attendants; and
WHEREAS, the well-documented hazards associated with sleep-deprived resident physicians have influenced recent changes in hospital policies; and
WHEREAS, the Washington State legislature consistently invests in nursing education to help increase the supply of nurses in Washington, even during times of budget crisis, yet the new graduate nurse turnover rate ranges from 30-65%, costing hospitals $80,000-$100,000 to recruit and replace a single nurse, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the Legislature’s investment; and
WHEREAS, nurse fatigue contributes to nurse burnout, reduced job satisfaction, increased turnover and reduced retention of both new graduates and experienced nurses which further undermines the efforts to increase the supply of the nursing workforce; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council will advocate for legislative and regulatory policy to ensure uninterrupted rest and meal breaks so that nurses, technical workers and all health care workers and patients are protected from the adverse effects of fatigue.
EXPANDING WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COVERAGE
WHEREAS, Washington State has a strong workers’ compensation system that has reasonably good benefits for injured workers and one of the lowest cost compensation systems in the country; and
WHEREAS, this past winter dozens of workers slipped and fell in their employer’s parking lots due to snow and ice causing broken limbs and soft tissue strains and sprains; and
WHEREAS, the current workers’ compensation statute [RCW 51] exempts injuries occurring in employer’s parking lots from industrial insurance coverage; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council will draft legislation removing the parking lot exemption from RCW 51.
IMPROVING CENTERS OF OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND EDUCATION (COHE)
WHEREAS, the COHE project for injured workers is now about ten years old and has demonstrated significant success; and
WHEREAS, based on a University of Washington study the COHEs have substantially prevented long-term disability, reducing costs by an average of $800 to $1200 per claim and lost work time by an average of nine days; and
WHEREAS, COHE doctors now see about 25% of the State Fund’s injured workers; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, goes on record supporting the transitional goals developed by the health sub-committee of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Committee (WCAC) of the Department of Labor and Industries which include:
1. Ending the Pilot phase of the COHEs and reporting results to the WCAC;
2. Work with the WCAC to determine the future role of a business-labor advisory function;
3. Expand the use of best practices in a methodical, systematic, and disciplined fashion;
4. Develop an ongoing funding mechanism for current & future COHEs;
5. Develop criteria for implementing proven best practices statewide with a plan for monitoring utilization, quality and cost/benefit;
6. Establish and implement standards for COHE certification;
7. Recruit at least two new COHEs;
8. Work with self-insured employers and their Third Party Administrators to make occupational health best practices available for self-insured programs and workers;
9. Make occupational health best practices available to all providers and workers in the workers’ compensation system.
ECONOMIC STIMULUS FUNDING
WHEREAS, the Economic Development and Transportation Standing Committee of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, has considered how the government’s economic stimulus plan may best suit workforce and economic needs; and,
WHEREAS, the importance of current employment and future employment from this plan need to be weighed against the very real needs of freight mobility and commerce; and,
WHEREAS, the importance of one region’s projects versus those of another region need to be carefully viewed through the lens of the state as a whole; and
WHEREAS, labor needs some measure of the value of projects in order to effectively weigh in, either in support of opposition; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the WSLC adopt the following criteria surrounding current and future economic stimulus funding; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the WSLC publicize this criteria to its affiliates.
1. Economic stimulus funds should be directed to a single statewide entity.
2. Funds should be available beyond “shovel ready” projects; if only ‘shovel ready’ projects are funded, state and local dollars must be allowed to be moved to the next phase of readiness, in order to maintain the stimulus (i.e., allow substitution).
3. Davis Bacon standards should apply on all projects.
4. 15% apprenticeship utilization should be required on all projects, craft by craft, not in aggregate.
5. The project should enhance community sustainability.
6. Priority should be given to projects that improve current bottlenecks in freight mobility.
7. Projects should have positive impacts on public safety.
8. Projects should be viewed and prioritized based on the effect the project will have on the short term (employment during the project) vs. long term (employment during the project and beyond the project completion), and should benefit the long term vitality of our state.
BOLSTERING WASHINGTON MANUFACTURING FOR TRANSPORTATION IN THE CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY
WHEREAS, the transportation sector in Washington is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all other energy users in the state combined; and
WHEREAS, the state, regional partnerships, and municipalities have made forward-thinking and coordinated commitments to reduce transportation-sector greenhouse gas emissions, evidenced by a recent series of policies and public works projects to enhance transportation choices (for example, light rail and streetcar networks); and
WHEREAS, there are a number of new transit projects in Washington either being studied or already in the works (such as commuter service on the Eastside Rail Corridor, Maple Valley to Auburn line, Bellingham to Everett line, Vancouver light rail, high-speed rail from Oregon to British Columbia, expanded Sound Transit, expanded Seattle Streetcar, high-speed/low-wake ferry service, and bus rapid transit); and
WHEREAS, Washington will receive an estimated $179 million in federal economic recovery funds for public transportation capital projects; and
WHEREAS, the Apollo Project to apply union power in the clean energy economy was endorsed by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, in 2003; and
WHEREAS, the Washington Apollo Alliance has worked to catalyze clean energy policies and projects that create new employment for our union sisters and brothers through labor partnerships with environmental, community, and business stakeholders; and
WHEREAS, manufacturing for the clean energy economy provides the potential for dislocated worker opportunities and career pathways to union jobs and green work, across a variety of manufacturing industries; and
WHEREAS, Washington is the western powerhouse for transportation equipment manufacturing, employing 45% of its durable goods manufacturing workforce in this sub-sector (compared with 19% national average and 13% average in the other western states); and
WHEREAS, tremendous opportunities in energy-efficient manufacturing of components and rolling stock for energy-efficient transit systems across the state exist because Washington already possesses the skills, adaptability, supply chain, and workforce training, and green operations expertise to be a globally-competitive hub for this type of production; and
WHEREAS, manufacturing components and rolling stock for transit systems will help diversify and expand Washington’s manufacturing capacity; and
WHEREAS, in-state manufacture of transit stock will allow the traditional manufacturing base to participate and compete in the clean energy economy by efficiently supplying durable goods for energy-reducing transit systems; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, reaffirms its support for the Apollo Project by supporting Washington Apollo Alliance’s efforts to bolster clean-energy manufacturing in-state; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO will support legislation and projects to increase the demand for transit components and rolling stock manufactured efficiently in-state, while meeting labor’s principles for workforce and economic development; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, will assist affiliates to explore joint projects and formal partnerships with the State of Washington and other public and private employers in clean-energy manufacturing, construction, and particularly transportation equipment manufacturing.
SUPPORTING FOREST PRODUCTS JOBS AS GREEN JOBS
WHEREAS, all forest products workers who work with sustainable forests and its products consider these green jobs;
WHEREAS, forest industry jobs include loggers, log haulers, pulp and paper workers, mill workers and all jobs that lead back to sustainable forests;
WHEREAS, annually in the United States unmanaged forest wild fires create carbon footprints equal to 54 million cars; and
WHEREAS, there is no greater example of carbon sequestering than a well-managed forest and its products; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the WSLC endorses forest product jobs as green jobs.
REGARDING EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND JUVENILE REHABILIATION ADMINISTRATION
WHEREAS, care for the vulnerable and public safety are two core responsibilities of state government; and
WHEREAS, our states legislature has steadily neglected its duty to provide excellent care for its most vulnerable and protecting the public in the name of being fiscal responsibility and institutional reform; and
WHEREAS, the 2009 legislature included a budget proviso that established an institutional closure study be conducted and the results be submitted to the 2010 legislature for consideration; and
WHEREAS, the results of this study could provide an immediate threat to thousands of family wage jobs within the Department of Corrections, Residential Habilitation Centers and the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration if the independent consultant recommends closure of institutions within said administrations; and
WHEREAS, the loss of these jobs will endanger vulnerable citizens and jeopardize public safety; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council will stand in solidarity with state employees in Washington’s residential habilitation centers, and the public safety employees who work within the Department of Corrections and the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, by opposing any legislation that would close institutions, habilitation centers or make further cuts to community corrections in our state; and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the WSLC make this endeavor a priority in its 2010 legislative agenda.
CONDEMNING SEIU’S ATTEMPTED HOSTILE TAKEOVER OF UNITE/HERE AND ITS JURISDICTION
WHEREAS, an internal dispute within UNITE/HERE had led a minority faction within the union, with the encouragement of the Service Employees International Union, to secede; and
WHEREAS, an affiliation agreement between the SEIU and this secessionist faction provides for organizing in UNITE/HERE’s traditional jurisdiction, including hotels, gaming and food services; and
WHEREAS, an affiliation agreement between the SEIU and this secessionist faction provides for organizing in traditional jurisdictions of other unions, including logistics, distribution and retail; and
WHEREAS, the SEIU international has directly threatened to organize hotels in Seattle, threatening the hard work of UNITE/HERE Local 8 leaders, staff and members; and
WHEREAS, direct mailings, followed up by live and automated phone calls have urged UNITE/HERE members throughout North America to leave UNITE/HERE and join SEIU; and
WHEREAS, the actions of SEIU’s international leadership undermine UNITE/HERE’s industry-wide negotiations in Atlantic City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle; and
WHEREAS, the actions of SEIU’s international leadership – and their utilization of tactics commonly used by anti-union employers to discourage unionization, such as questioning the validity of union authorization cards – are directly undermining organized labor’s historic opportunity to achieve labor law reform with passage of the Employee Free Choice Act; and
WHEREAS, the actions of SEIU’s international leadership threaten longstanding cooperative relationships between SEIU and UNITE/HERE locals in Washington state, as and undermines the solidarity among all unions in Washington state; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO shall:
Condemn the intervention of SEIU President Andrew Stern and other SEIU international leaders in the internal concerns of UNITE/HERE, and SEIU’s actions designed to attack, weaken and raid UNITE/HERE;
1. Condemn the use of anti-union tactics by SEIU international leadership in their campaign against UNITE/HERE;
2. Demand that SEIU immediately cease all actions and/or support of raids of the gaming, hotel and food service bargaining units represented by UNITE/HERE, and publicly acknowledge UNITE/HERE’s organizing jurisdiction in these areas across North America; and
3. Encourage SEIU local leaders and staff in Washington state to repudiate the SEIU affiliation agreement that seeks to steal UNITE/HERE’s jurisdiction and undermines the bargaining strength and solidarity of existing UNITE/HERE members; and, be it finally
RESOLVED that the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, will send a copy of this resolution to SEIU President Andrew Stern, the SEIU Executive Board, the leadership of Change to Win, the leaders of SEIU local unions based in Washington state; AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and the AFL-CIO Executive Council.
WHEREAS, the 2009 Legislative Session resulted in tremendous harm to all working families; and
WHEREAS, we understand the state is facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and that we all must make sacrifices, still the Governor and the Legislature chose cuts that threaten the long-term economic security of all working families; and
WHEREAS, the harm to working families as a result of massive budget cuts is bad enough by itself, yet the Governor and the Legislature repeatedly took actions that were harmful to union members that didn’t have anything to do with saving money; and
WHEREAS, we understand and respect that it is the right and the obligation for our elected officials to make difficult policy decisions, and that there are always going to be times when union members disagree with those decisions; and
WHEREAS, our members are united by certain core principles, and actions by the Governor and the Legislature this past session to weaken collective bargaining rights, oppose worker privacy, capitulate to big business on UI, and eliminate middle class jobs are in direct conflict with our principles; and
WHEREAS, it seems clear now that we have, over the years, supported a lot of elected officials who really don’t share our values, and as a result, we need to reconsider how we conduct our entire legislative and political action program; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the WSLC will suspend its normal endorsement process and take no action for or against any incumbent candidate in the 2009 special elections for the Legislature, although this is by no means intended to discourage CLC’s or affiliates from participating in local government elections; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the WSLC will make no contributions to any candidate for the office of Governor or State Legislature, or any committees controlled by the Governor or Legislators, for the duration of the 2009 calendar year.
CONTRACTING OUT CHILD WELFARE SERVICES
WHEREAS, the 2009 Washington State Legislature passed 2SHB 2106, which sets up a Transformation Design Committee to produce a plan to contract out 30% of all child welfare services historically done by state workers to private contractors; and
WHEREAS, the 2009 Washington State Senate took an even stronger stance with its 33-15 vote to contract out 100% of all child welfare services historically done by state workers to private contractors; and
WHEREAS, the privatization of child welfare services in other jurisdictions has not yielded better results or real cost-savings, and recent reports of fraud and child deaths in the private sector elsewhere have led to the cancellation of contracts and calls for reform; and
WHEREAS, the privatization of child welfare services in other jurisdictions has failed to solve the problems that plague the child welfare system: caseworker turnover, heavy caseloads, and inadequate resources for services to families; and
WHEREAS, the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) has consistently opposed contracting out of public services to private contractors because the WSLC understands the importance of an experienced, dedicated public sector workforce and the dangers of privatization; and contracting out often results in higher costs, poorer service, and increased opportunities for corruption, abuse and lack of accountability; and
WHEREAS, the quality of service can deteriorate when financial considerations are the prime motive in service delivery, and the local employment base is eroded when good, secure, family wage union jobs are replaced with low wage jobs; and
WHEREAS, the WSLC does not believe that a child’s safety and welfare should be placed in the hands of the lowest bidder; private contractors who must meet certain requirements to get paid may be tempted to cut corners to meet the mark where salaried state workers can focus less on how to meet the monthly goal and more on identifying and preserving the best interests of the child; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the WSLC will continue to work with public supporters and other activists to prevent contracting out of child welfare services to the private sector; and, be it further
RESOLVED, that the WSLC shall send letters urging the Governor and Legislature to rescind the effort; and, be it finally
RESOLVED, that the WSLC will advocate for increased funding for more public child welfare services caseworkers as the primary means to improve outcomes in child welfare services case management.
ACHIEVING PERMANENT FUNDING AND SUPPORT FOR PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICES
WHEREAS, public health is the most cost effective system for disease prevention and health improvement and is also our first line of defense in responding to bioterrorism and in disaster preparedness; and
WHEREAS, only 2% of the nation’s total health care dollars are spent on public health services, and Washington ranks 44th in the nation in per capita spending on public health; and
WHEREAS, funding has eroded over the past decade and public health districts have already streamlined to provide only the most essential and critical services, and now even these services are in jeopardy because there is no long-term, stable funding source for public health; and
WHEREAS, public health nurses and nursing services are an essential component of public health and contribute to the overall health of the population; and
WHEREAS, the general public, communities, and decision-makers have limited knowledge regarding the scope and essential nature of public health services, interventions and their long-term impact on the general welfare and health of all residents of Washington State; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Washington State Labor Council, through its lobbying, coalition and public relations efforts will support activities to educate the Washington State Legislature, nursing quality care commission, local governments, and the general public about the critical need for public health and public health nursing, and will strongly advocate for an adequate, permanent stable funding source for these essential services.