Labor says approve R-74, reject I-1192
 

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posted Friday, May 11, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 19

Labor says approve R-74, reject I-1192
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) endorsed the Approve Referendum 74 and No on I-1192 campaigns at its May 5 COPE convention.

The decision came on a voice vote, with no one opposed.

Referendum 74 would ask voters to approve the Marriage Equality Act, giving equal marriage rights to Gay and Lesbian couples. I-1192 would redefine marriage to exclude same-sex couples.

'Referendum 74, advocating marriage equality, was resoundingly endorsed by the labor body,' the WSLC said in a statement. 'This issue has become important to labor as it is seen as imperative to extending rights to workers who previously have faced discrimination.'

The WSLC represents some 600 local unions and 400,000 workers. COPE is the council's Committee on Political Education, which makes political endorsements on its behalf.

The Martin Luther King County Labor Council recommended the endorsement to the statewide body at the request of Pride at Work, the AFL-CIO's LGBT constituency group.

The Pierce County Labor Council, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 (the state's largest private-sector union), and the Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council had also decided to support marriage equality prior to the convention.

The Service Employees International Union, which is not affiliated with the WSLC, is also supporting the Approve Referendum 74 campaign.

The WSLC's endorsement implies a commitment of volunteers to the endorsed campaigns, including volunteers for doorbelling, flyering at workplaces, and phonebanking.

It also includes direct mail and other forms of political outreach explaining why endorsed candidates and ballot measures have earned labor's support.

In a related action, the WSLC denied its endorsement to Mark Miloscia, a Democratic state representative opposed to marriage equality and reproductive choice. Miloscia, who represents the 30th district, is running for state auditor.

In an angry speech to the convention, Miloscia pleaded with delegates to not be distracted by what he called 'wedge issues,' but he did not receive the necessary votes for endorsement.

The WSLC also endorsed I-502, the proposal to legalize personal possession of marijuana.

The convention began with a speech by WSLC President Jeff Johnson. 'The political stakes could not be higher in this election year,' Johnson told the delegates. 'We are fighting to defend the values of our democracy.'

Johnson then introduced Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, who received a special early endorsement from the council in February. Inslee is a vocal supporter of equal marriage rights.

Inslee promised the cheering delegates that as governor he would work to 'rebuild the middle class.'

'We need fewer offshore bank accounts,' Inslee said, referring to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Swiss and Cayman Islands accounts, 'and more onshore jobs!'

In a dramatic moment, members of the Washington Federation of State Employees turned their backs on State Sen. Jim Kastama (D-25) when he addressed the convention.

Kastama, who is now running for secretary of state, was one of three Democratic senators who voted with Republicans to pass a budget that cut retirement benefits for state workers by as much as 50%. The other defectors were Rodney Tom (D-48) and Tim Sheldon (D-35).



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