Labor & a Safe Workplace

Gerry has worked throughout his career to protect the health of workers and to ensure they can obtain workers compensation when their lives are destroyed by workplace exposures to deadly chemicals. Gerry has shown that uniting efforts for labor and the environment is vital for progressive efforts to address inequality and to build a sustainable environment and economy. He has 100% lifetime voting records for both labor and the environment.

One of the key reasons Gerry decided to run for the Legislature was the experience of five Hanford workers whose lungs were being destroyed by exposure to beryllium, while their employers refused to pay massive healthcare bills and fought their workers compensation claims for years. Instead of offering support and improvement to our workers compensation program for self insured employers, legislators attacked the employees. Gerry committed to change that atmosphere if he won election to the Legislature, and has worked closely with sick employees and labor unions to advocate for oversight and improvement in our workers compensation programs.

Gerry is one of the foremost advocates in our state for raising the minimum wage and adopting paid family and sick leave. He was an early supporter of organizing efforts to raise the minimum wage in SeaTac and then Seattle,  joining workers on picket lines, walked striking fast food workers back to their stores and spoken to their managers urging them not to retaliate; and, fought to preserve the right to organize and bargain.  Gerry continues to do so in the Legislature, including doing whatever it takes to stop “right to work” bills.

Collective bargaining – and, protecting the rights of workers to organize – creates a better society and economy for everyone.

As with government, when a majority decides that they should tax themselves for the benefit of all, we do not allow the minority to opt out and go along for a free ride. Employers spent a lot of money coining the term “right to work.” We need to reframe this as “free ride” legislation.

In the Supreme Court and in Washington State, we are seeing a concerted attack on collective bargaining and representation for public employees. This is a war on public employees and their rights to collectively organize. Gerry will continue to work to defeat these efforts and strengthen the ability of our unions to organize and represent working people. We have now seen Washington join a race to the bottom with Boeing insistence on ending defined benefit pensions, and, as predicted, this was followed by Republican legislators calling for ending defined benefit pensions for public employees. As an active member of the Working Families Caucus in the Legislature, Gerry has actively fought for the rights of workers to organize, for public employees to have reasonable benefits and fair compensation, to preserve prevailing wage requirements for public contracts and oppose wage theft. Gerry also works closely with SEIU, Teamsters and others to develop ways to prevent right wing, corporate funded attacks on membership of unions serving public clients and public missions.

Gerry is a leader to require corporations to prove that they INCREASE jobs and overall state revenues if they want to keep (or obtain) tax breaks from our State’s taxpayers. When Boeing sought its massive tax break in exchange for building the 787 line in Washington, Gerry worked with a handful of House members to insist that Boeing agree to specific tax break performance measures, which he had joined in recently enacting as a requirement for all new tax breaks. The statutory language included a performance measure to INCREASE jobs in Washington, not just to build the 787 line. Instead of living up to this expectation, Boeing has cut thousands of jobs in our state, from production to engineers (even while, ironically, having lobbied for the state to spend heavily to expand engineering slots in our universities, for jobs that may not exist when the students graduate unless they displace existing engineers).

Gerry is working closely with Plumbers and Pipefitters 598 to ensure workers suffering – and dying – from occupational exposures receive medical care and full workers compensation. All too often, workers suffering horribly debilitating diseases are being subjected to multiple “independent medical exams”, which are nothing but roadblocks to their being able to receive benefits and actual care while self-insured employers shop for favorable medical opinions.

Gerry is the prime sponsor of legislation to provide equity for our part-time community college faculty and to increase the numbers of Full Time faculty.