The Pulse

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January Pulse

Hard to believe we’re approaching the 3-year anniversary of the pandemic shutdown, yet here we are. I’m pleased to announce that over the break we filed a representation petition with PERC to represent professional/exempt staff at Walla Walla Community College. The next step is to come to agreement with management and PERC on which positions will be in the unit and then get to the bargaining table. As you read through this Pulse, you’ll see that AFT Washington Board member and faculty at Pierce College Jacqui Cain is working to organize professional staff at other colleges – if you know of colleagues at the CTCs who might be interested, Jacqui would welcome a conversation with them, so please reach out.

December Pulse

First, I want to wish you and yours a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season. The many holidays celebrated at this time of year offer respite, reflection, relation and so much more, even while creating the potential added stress. Please do take care and seek the best these last weeks of 2022 have to offer.

Looking ahead into 2023, the AFT Washington Executive Board plans to offer several Race and Labor workshops in January and February, both in person and virtually. Board members Gillian Reese (Local 461), Peter Pihos (Local 2084), and David Ortiz (Local 6191) will be reaching out to local presidents by region to arrange workshops for local leaders. Our hope is that your local leadership will participate as a team and then host a workshop for your membership in Spring or Summer. This workshop is an opportunity to deepen understanding of systemic racism within our union and our workplaces and to strengthen our commitment to disrupting it constructively.

November Pulse

I feel relieved and perhaps even a little hopeful with the election results. Our fight for economic, racial, and social justice will continue in Washington State with a likely Senate pick-up and larger House majority, creating conditions allowing us to push back against the austerity messaging we’re encountering in our preparation for the legislative session. I’m even more optimistic about our non-budget legislative agenda.

The Pulse - June 2022

The end of the school year has arrived ... perhaps more significantly, another COVID-school year! Whatever your summer looks like - working as usual, working part-time, travelling, or enjoying a slower pace of life - I hope that you're able to take some time to rest, reflect and re-energize. As for your AFT Washington team, we'll be here to support our locals and continue moving our state-wide programs.

The Pulse - May 2022

You may have seen in the news that several Seattle Central College professional-technical programs, aka workforce development programs, were on the chopping block – the administration’s “solution” to their budget woes. It is true that the community and technical colleges are hurting due to a significant decline in enrollment across the system during this pandemic, though that decline is not reflected overall in the programs in question. The need to increase enrollment makes the decision to close programs that bring in enrollment all the more troubling, on top of the impact on the people working in the programs, the resulting lack of access to affordable choices to develop a career, and the disregard for the decades of investment in and storied pasts of the program. Read more about that here.

The Pulse - April 2022

Does anyone remember what we were focused on in 2018? The first sentence of my June Pulse letter was “Every Monday morning I wake up and think, “oh shoot…did I sleep through the announcement of the Janus decision???”

If the Freedom Foundation’s slew of public information requests, our member recommitment campaign, or the looming SCOTUS decision don’t spring immediately to mind, let me refresh your memory. The Janus decision was the decision by SCOTUS to end agency fee, meaning that bargaining unit members could reap the benefits of representation but were not required to contribute fees to the cause. The Freedom Foundation and other funders of the lawsuit hoped that the labor movement would die off when starved of members and revenue, leaving workers at the mercy of employers, with no voice or power in their jobs.

The Pulse - March 2022

As is always the case, there is a lot going on. I’m happy to report that our two bills, ESSB 5847 (Public Service Loan Forgiveness) and SB 5539 (healthcare funding for Head Start members) are headed to the Governor’s desk and we have every reason to trust that they’ll be signed. These bills represent significant gains for our members; our Advocacy Team worked smart and hard to get them passed. I especially want to mention HyeEun Park and Anna-Marie Magdalena, brand new members of the team, who were unrelenting in our push for the win.

The strength of our relationships is core to a successful legislative session, and this year we made the most of those relationships. We tapped into our labor siblings, partnered with the employer of our Head Start members, co-conspired with the Student Borrower Protection Center and AFT staff, and engaged our membership to speak to legislators and in hearings. We turned over every stone we could find to win in Olympia.

The Pulse - February 2022

Greetings Friends,

In July of 2020, our executive board passed resolution 2020-04, Becoming an Anti-racist, Unified and Inclusive Union. Leading up to and since then we have initiated new programs and implemented several strategies. In the midst of the divisive political and cultural climate and aggressive efforts to reinforce racist and sexist institutions throughout our society, I’d like to provide a snapshot of the work we’re doing and ways we’re looking at continuing to advance our racial equity goals.

The Pulse - January 2022

Greetings Friends,

I wish I could greet you with a “whew, aren’t we glad we’ve vanquished our foe COVID and have moved into a new year!” Instead, I will convey my appreciation for the work each of you is doing to provide what our students, families and communities need in spite of the tumultuous conditions – the opportunity to learn and grow through education. Thank you!

At the state federation, 2022 is starting off fully staffed for the first time in nearly a year. After significant changes in the last few years, we have a commanding Organizing Team with many years of collective experience, a newly-formed, ambitious and dedicated Advocacy Team, and an Administrative Support Team operating like a finely oiled machine … with the human qualities that bring out the best in all of us. Put it all together and the result is a very busy winter, with trainings, Lobby Day, the Contingent Faculty Issues Conference and ClassCon 2022 (our school related personnel conference) scheduled between now and mid-March.