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Young Workers Advocate for a Fair Living Wage In Washington State

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Young Workers Advocate for a Fair Living Wage In Washington State
Photo by: Laura Reisdorph

UPDATE, Nov. 12: Officials are still counting votes, but the measure was leading by 43 votes out of 5,045 cast (50.43 percent yes to 49.57% no).

Still inspired by an energetic 2013 AFSCME Next Wave conference held late this summer in Detroit, the young members of the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) Next Wave committee headed into their own convention encouraged and tasked to do more as young workers and activists.

At WFSE’s 2013 Biennial Convention last week, they committed to increase young member participation in the union and to support the union’s goal of coalition building – expanding their own list of allies beyond Washington State to the greater Northwestern Region.

“Our main goals are growth,” said Brandon Anderson, WFSE Organizer and Next Wave Committee Leader, when asked about their next steps. “We want to increase participation throughout the state and get young AFSCME members involved.”

Throughout the convention, Next Wavers flooded the convention halls, urging young workers and delegates in attendance to join their rally supporting Proposition 1, a measure that requires Seattle-Tacoma hospitality and transportation employers to raise their hourly minimum wage to $15, adjusted annually for inflation.

Proposition 1 requires Seattle-Tacoma hospitality and transportation employers to raise their hourly minimum wage to $15, adjusted annually for inflation, and pay sick and safe time of one hour per 40 hours worked. According to a study printed in the Seattle Times, it would boost economy by $54 million.

“Prop. 1 was just the natural choice,” said Anderson, describing why Next Wavers adopted the issue for advocacy. “The people impacted represent the new faces of labor – young folks and a great deal of immigrant workers. It also represented a new and creative tactic to make the labor movement relevant, going beyond just winning gains for union membership.”

Organized by the WFSE Next Wave committee, workers rallied on a busy Seattle-Tacoma intersection and marched to the corporate headquarters of Alaska Airlines, which tried to keep the measure off the ballot.