User menu

The 12-Hour Zoom Meeting: How COVID-19 Hasn’t Stopped Labor from Engaging in Washington State Politics


This article was originally published in NW Labor Press. Written by Diana Winther, General Counsel.

On May 16th, your five delegates to the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) attended the Committee on Political Education (COPE) Endorsement Convention. Usually this event is held at the Machinists 751 Hall in Seattle, which has space enough to hold the hundreds of Union representatives that attend, plus all of the political candidates handing out buttons and campaign flyers to try and win a few last-minute votes.

This year, Aaron Barber-Strong, Mike Bridges, Bob Carroll, Kevin Lux and I met on Zoom, along with over 300 other delegates. I have nothing but endless respect for WSLC President Larry Brown, Secretary Treasurer April Sims, Political and Strategic Campaigns Director Cherika Carter, and all of the other WSLC staff for coordinating this huge event. They recognized how important it is for Labor to be involved in politics (as frustrating and perplexing as it may be at times) and they ensured that our State Council maintained its democratic process in the brave new world of a global pandemic. Voices were heard. Motions were made and amended. Votes were cast. We signed on at 9:30 am and concluded around 10 pm. It was a long day, but sometimes that is what democracy looks like. You can find the list of candidates receiving the WSLC’s endorsement here

As I’m sure all of you have noticed, what politicians do in times of crisis has a profound effect on folks, especially working people. Whether or not you agree with the actions taken by your local and state politicians is up to you as an individual, but please know that the delegates to the WSLC have their memberships in mind when they recommend or oppose individuals for endorsement. And many are working with Governor Inslee to create a sound plan for reopening industries in the state, such as WSLC Second District Vice President Mark Riker, who is also the Executive Secretary for the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council. Engaging in politics is our best chance at making sure worker needs are considered as we plan for the future around COVID-19.

It is essential that those that make decisions understand the needs of Labor, and the WSLC helps to make that happen in Washington State. But one of the best ways we can ensure that kind of knowledge is by encouraging and supporting Union members like yourself to run for office. So, if you have been watching from the sidelines, wondering what it might be like to take your pro-worker beliefs to the political arena, there is a program for that! The AFL-CIO has a project called Path to Power, which works to “identify, recruit and elect union members to run for local government offices.” You can learn more about it here.

The WSLC works with the Path to Power program to help potential candidates understand the process, including providing training on how to run a campaign – messaging, fundraising – the works. Throwing your hat into the political ring can be a daunting idea, but we all know that a challenging task is made much easier when you have Labor solidarity and support.

If nothing else, I hope that COVID-19 has been a reminder to us all about what is important in our lives, and how our individual actions can make a difference. Whether you choose to take action by voting, by contacting your local government representatives about issues, and/or working to become a representative yourself, remember that we are always stronger together.

IBEW Local 48 News
Design by Fruition.