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Jeff Johnson, Lynne Dodson sworn in as executive officers
New executive officers -- President Jeff Johnson and Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson -- were sworn into office Wednesday at the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the state's largest labor organization which represents the interests of more than 500 affiliated union organizations and some 400,000 rank-and-file union members statewide. Johnson and Dodson were elected last month to succeed former President Rick Bender and Secretary-Treasurer Al Link, who had served as the WSLC's executive officers since 1993 and 1994, respectively. Said Johnson: "It is a great honor to have the opportunity to lead this proud organization and continue to fight for Washington's working families." Read more.
► In the Northwest Labor Press --
State Labor Council leaders pass the baton -- President Johnson and
Secretary-Treasurer Dodson have an ambitious vision for WSLC. They want to
build up the capacity to educate members, to counter the ideology that put
Wall Street first and left working America behind. They want to make
organized labor more appealing to younger workers, rebuild labor's
communications infrastructure, and rekindle a union culture based on the
principle of solidarity. And they want to strengthen labor's alliance with
other movements, showing Washingtonians that unions aren't just about
defending their own members -- they're about building power to win
economic and social justice for all working people.
State government news:
► In today's Olympian -- Gregoire plan would appoint one secretary for all schools in state -- The governor has proposed an unprecedented centralization of the state's education governance, unveiling plans for a new Department of Education that would consolidate early-childhood to college-level education under the authority of one appointed, cabinet-level secretary. The boards that recommend education policy would be eliminated and preschool, K-12 and higher-ed agencies would be consolidated. The elected superintendent of public instruction would report to the new education secretary, a move that some say would require a voter-approved state constitutional amendment.
► In today's (Everett) Herald -- Approve governor's multi-pronged plan (editorial) -- It's a package of proposals that strike a reasonable balance between business and labor interests, both of whom could use a boost as unemployment and general economic stagnation remain stubbornly high.
► In today's Washington Post -- Recession bruised states' revenue sank 30% in 2009, study finds -- The severe drop in revenue resulted largely from the big investment losses experienced by state pension funds. Tax revenue also slipped while surging demand from newly needy citizens drained the funds that back unemployment benefits, publicly funded health care and workers' compensation.
► At Huffington Post -- State budgets unlikely to get aid from Congress in 2011 -- States will continue to face substantial deficits, but they will have to get by with the end of stimulus spending and less financial help from the federal government. Top GOP lawmakers made clear it will be much less.
► In today's Kitsap Sun -- Bremerton firefighters accept wage freeze -- Firefighters were due a 3.4% salary increase this year, and their gross pay will still reflect the raise. But each paycheck will include a deduction of the amount of the raise, which will be given back to the city, saving $191,000.
► In today's Kitsap Sun -- Ferry worker sues state over injuries -- A WA State Ferries employee is suing in an attempt to recover medical expenses and loss of earnings from an alleged job-related injury.
Health care news:
► In today's NY Times -- Democrats plan attack on Republican repeal effort -- Democratic leaders plan to spend the next week doing what they all but refused to do during the 2010 midterm elections: mount a vigorous defense of Obama's health care reform.
► At TPM -- House Dems press GOP to announce whether they'll accept government health care -- Democrats offered a "motion to commit" to amend House rules and force new members to announce whether they'll be taking their government health care.
► From AP -- Health care spending soars -- The recession slowed the growth of the nation's health care bill to the lowest levels ever measured. But medical costs still gobbled up a record share of the overall economy, meaning the slowdown did not change the underlying problem with out-of-control health care spending.
► In today's LA Times -- Blue Shield of CA seeks rates hikes of up to 59% -- Another big California health insurer has stunned individual policyholders with huge rate increases -- this time it's Blue Shield of California seeking cumulative hikes of as much as 59% for tens of thousands of customers.
Building and Construction Trades Council President Mark Ayers: "The 112th Congress convened this week and the first order of business by the Republican majority in the House was, incredibly, to cut jobs and funding to highway and transit programs. Specifically, House Republicans changed a number of longstanding rules, including one that historically ensured that money raised solely for highway and transit projects through the federal gas tax be spent on those projects." Read more.
► At Politico -- Labor pushes back -- On defense and on its heels after the Republican takeover of Congress and key statehouses, a divided labor movement is coming together for a new campaign that will attempt to go on offense against corporate America. The new campaign will attempt, in particular, to prevent a split between public and private sector workers, and to defend the public workers from sharp cuts to their pay, benefits, and their right to bargain collectively. The effort also hopes to co-opt the "reform" mantle to make the case that while workers are willing to give back some benefits, "shared sacrifice" -- meaning taxes on the rich and corporations as well -- should be the order of the day.
► At AFL-CIO Now -- In Oregon, labor's next gen redefine union member -- Through the Young Emerging Labor Leaders (YELL), Oregon's young workers are getting a chance to foster new pride in holding a union card and are redefining what it means to be a union member. In October 2009, the Oregon AFL-CIO Convention unanimously passed a resolution calling for a young worker program and adding a seat to the General Board for a young representative. In early 2010, the group developed a monthly social calendar and began planning their first-ever convention for August 2010.
► In The Hill -- Axed from panel name, labor on high alert -- The GOP's decision to drop "labor" from the name of a House committee is being interpreted by some union officials as the curtain-raiser to their efforts to pressure the Obama administration on workplace laws and regulations.
► At Huffington Post -- Obama expected to tap Bill Daley as Chief of Staff -- The Midwest chairman of JPMorgan Chase and brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was an opponent of two landmark Obama administration initiatives -- health care reform and consumer protection. (Lovely.)
► In today's NY Times -- The Corporate House (editorial) -- Boehner has been speaker for just one day. But it is already clear that the Republicans' plan is to serve their corporate donors, above all else.
► At Huffington Post -- The shameful attack on public employees (by Robert Reich) -- Republicans would rather deflect attention from corporate executive pay that continues to rise as corporate profits soar, even as corporations refuse to hire more workers. They don't want stories about Wall Street bonuses, now higher than before taxpayers bailed out the Street. It's far more convenient to go after people who are doing the public's work -- sanitation workers, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, social workers, federal employees -- to call them "faceless bureaucrats" and portray them as hooligans who are making off with your money and crippling federal and state budgets. The story fits better with the Republican's Big Lie that our problems are due to a government that's too big. Above all, Republicans don't want to have to justify continued tax cuts for the rich. As quietly as possible, they want to make them permanent.
SEATTLE -- New executive officers, President Jeff Johnson and Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson, were sworn into office Wednesday at the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the state's largest labor organization which represents the interests of more than 500 affiliated union organizations and some 400,000 rank-and-file union members statewide. Johnson and Dodson were elected last month to succeed former President Rick Bender and Secretary-Treasurer Al Link, who had served as the WSLC's executive officers since 1993 and 1994, respectively.
"It is a great honor to have the opportunity to lead this proud organization and continue to fight for Washington's working families," Johnson said. "Over the years, I have learned a great deal from Rick Bender and Al Link, who built the Washington State Labor Council into the best AFL-CIO state federation in the nation. Together with our affiliated unions and our community partners, we intend to continue to build upon that great legacy."
Johnson has served on the WSLC staff since 1986, including as Research and Organizing Director, Lead Lobbyist and Special Assistant to the President. His work has focused on legislation to improve working families' lives through increasing collective bargaining and organizing rights, economic justice and anti-poverty measures, strengthening our workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and employment standards, improving our health care system, and protecting the rights of farm workers and immigrant workers.
I'm honored and humbled to serve in this position," said Dodson, who is the first woman to serve as an executive officer in the history of the Council, which was formed in 1957 with the merger of the Washington Federation of Labor and the Washington Congress of Industrial Organizations Council. "I'm looking forward to working with the dedicated officers, board, staff, and affiliates of the WSLC to continue to strengthen a labor movement that builds the middle class, restores the social safety net to protect our most vulnerable neighbors, fights for workers' rights, joins together in solidarity to increase our collective strength, and moves our state forward."
Dodson was a professor at Seattle Central Community College, and has served as President of AFT Local 1789, First Vice President of AFT Washington, and an Executive Board Member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. County Labor Council. She has a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Washington.
After a brief swearing-in ceremony conducted by Bender and Link at the Council's Seattle office on Wednesday, Johnson said the labor movement in Washington faces a tremendous challenge in the current economic climate as high unemployment persists, declining government revenue has led to dramatic public service cuts, and vicious, unwarranted attacks have been launched against public employee unions.
"We in the labor movement understand that divided we will fall," Johnson said. "That's why we must continue to work together -- public and private sector workers -- and stand united against the powerful corporate forces that caused this recession, created a dramatic new inequality of income and wealth in this country, and now seek to blame the victims.
"We must work harder than ever before to ensure that prosperity in this state and in this country is shared by all. That fight begins anew today, and I'm confident we will succeed."
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO