One of the services the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO provides its affiliated unions is legislative education and advocacy. As with collective bargaining, by joining forces and speaking with a united voice on public policy issues affecting working families, labor has greater influence. There are about more than 550,000 union members in Washington — 17.4% of the non-agricultural workforce — ranking us as the 5th most unionized state in the nation. With few exceptions, the positions taken by the WSLC are on issues affecting ALL working people, not just union members. From the equal pay to minimum wage to workers’ compensation, the WSLC and its affiliated unions are proud to advocate for their rank-and-file members and all working families.
2021 Workers’ Recovery Agenda
The Washington State Labor Council’s 2021 Workers’ Recovery Agenda is now available. The WSLC’s policy priorities include the following (one-pagers with details about each proposal will be added here soon):
► Invest in Washington — Our tax code is upside-down-and-backwards. Families who earn the least pay the most, while the wealthiest pay a fraction of their fair share. It doesn’t have to be this way. The Legislature can balance our tax code, raise revenue, and refuse to cut programs that support families in crisis. Budget gimmicks and short-term solutions won’t keep the economic heart of Washington beating. Real investments are necessary if we are to grow our way out of this economic crisis without slashing higher education, workforce development, public safety, and the social safety net. Download PDF one-pager.
ALSO at The Stand (Dec. 14) — We must invest in post-COVID Washington (by WSLC President Larry Brown)
► Pass the Worker Protection Act — Washington has strong anti-discrimination, health and safety, and workplace protection laws, but they only work with an equally strong enforcement system. Unfortunately, understaffed state agencies do not have the capacity to keep up with violations. This gap is most keenly felt by essential workers in front-line industries, like farm labor, food processing, and grocery who are more likely to be women and workers of color. By empowering workers to enforce their rights on their own, without having to wait for government agencies that are stretched too thin, the Legislature will help secure worker safety, fair pay, and discrimination-free workplaces. Download PDF one-pager.
► Build Infrastructure for Jobs and Our Climate — The Legislature can meet several needs with one act by putting thousands back to work through a significant investment in job-creating infrastructure. Our transportation system has long gone without proper, reliable funding for maintenance and operations. By leaning in to this immediate need, in addition to some additional major projects like hybrid ferries, and the Columbia River and West Seattle Bridges, our state can put people back to work right away, and for many years to come. Further investments in vehicle electrification infrastructure, mass transit expansion, culvert replacement to support salmon runs, coupled with sensible carbon pricing mechanisms, will progress our state toward a cleaner, more livable future. Lawmakers should also use the Capital Budget to create good construction and maintenance jobs by repairing and retrofitting state institutions like Rainier School and funding Fircrest’s construction of the Skilled Nursing Center. Download PDF one-pager.
► Address Washington’s Child Care Crisis — The pandemic has driven home the critical role that affordable, accessible child care plays in a functioning economy. Pre-pandemic, Washington’s child care system was already broken, with 63% of the state in a care desert, families burdened with yearly costs rivaling yearly tuition, and child care professionals making less than dog walkers. The pandemic has only increased the inequities: child care workers have been classified as essential workers, but most have no access to health insurance, let alone other benefits that stabilize a workforce. The state must make bold, audacious investments in expanding subsidy access, increasing subsidy rates to meet the cost of care, and immediate financial relief so that these essential businesses will survive the pandemic and support our economic recovery. Download PDF one-pager.
► Unemployment Insurance Reform — Our unemployment insurance system should be updated to make it more flexible and attentive to workers’ needs during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. A modest increase in the minimum benefit, changes to improve access to benefits and claims processing, allowing for job search and waiting week waivers, and protections for vulnerable workers will ensure it better serves the people of Washington.
► Reform Policing — Charleena Lyles and Manuel Ellis were unjustly killed by police here in Washington state; two more names added to an unacceptably long list of Black people and people of color who have been victims of the overuse of force by law enforcement around the country. Policing in America is too often violent, and disproportionately directed at Black communities. There are clear, systematic root causes that lead to the hyper-policing of Black people and other people of color, and the Legislature must take action. The WSLC will support systemic reform efforts that address unnecessary use of force and accountability for officers who violate the standards of their profession, while preserving core labor principles.
Those are just a few of the WSLC’s legislative priorities. Download the agenda one-pager for a more comprehensive list or read the more detailed summary posted at The Stand. In addition, the WSLC will be support other legislation (not listed on the agenda) that is championed by its affiliated unions and a range of issues to address economic opportunity and justice. For updates about the status of these bills — and Action Alerts explaining how you can help support their passage — subscribe to The Stand. You can also see an archive of all the legislative news in its State Government section.
2020 Legislative Report & Voting Record
The 2020 edition of the Washington State Labor Council’s Legislative Report is now available. (Download the PDF.) This annual report summarizes the fate of legislation affecting Washington’s working families in each year’s State Legislature, and how each legislator voted on these issues (or you can download the WSLC 2020 Voting Record only). Printed copies of the WSLC’s 2020 Legislative Report are being mailed to all affiliated unions. Officers, staff and rank-and-file members of WSLC-affiliated unions can request additional copies. Call 206-281-8901 for more information.
Download previous years’ Legislative Reports:
Download previous years’ WSLC Voting Records:
For earlier WSLC Voting Records, or for archived copies of previous years’ WSLC Legislative Reports, email your request to David Groves.