UW workers endorse the Sawant/Licata Transit package
I also wanted to include an update to the endorsements that we have received for the more progressive Metro plan that is being proposed by Councilmember Nick Licata and me to avert the cuts to Metro. On Friday, the Executive Board of WFSE Local 1488 voted unanimously to endorse the progressive Metro plan. I want to thank WFSE for their support in the struggle for progressive taxation, and the groundbreaking work in general that they have done to defend their workers against discrimination. They are also engaged in a really courageous contract battle with the UW administration, demanding $15 an hour for all of the employees that are represented by the union. And they played a leading role in the $15 struggle in Seattle in helping us build a grassroots campaign.
Local 1488 represents over 2,000 members, including food service workers,custodial staff, library staff, office staff, lab technicians and trade services like plumbing. In fact, Ben Peterson, who is my Legislative Aide, is a graduate student at UW and he has recent become library staff which makes him a member of the same union. WFSE 1488 adds itself to a list of endorsers that includes the Seattle King County NAACP, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (also known as PSARA), the Transit Riders Union, and others.
The endorsement of Local 1488 is a huge blow to those who oppose the adoption of a commercial parking tax to support Metro. The University of Washington’s administration has claimed that the cost would have to be shifted to workers and students. WFSE’s Executive Board knows the University’s budget. Their endorsement in the midst of contract negotiations undercuts their words and serves as a clear message that rank and file workers at the University know that the money exists for this plan. The University of Washington was recently recognized by The New York Times as one of the most unequal universities in the US. It’s a question of whether the administration, and its corporate allies, are too greedy to pay their fair share.
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On Saturday, Ben Peterson spoke for my office at the Seattle 350 rally which was a protest rally against the oil trains. Groups like 350.org are correct when they say that if we want to build safe communities, stop climate change and create a truly carbon free economy, then it is not possible to simply accept the existing interstate commerce laws or other obstacles that the political and economic establishment places before us. Earlier this year, the Council passed a resolution opposing oil trains, which is a positive step forward. We need to further build the grassroots protests against fossil fuels, but this will require action at all levels. And also clear leadership from elected officials.