IBEW Members Crowd State Capital to
|IBEW members rally in Olympia.|
On April 8, thousands of union members gathered at a rally to save collective bargaining at the state capital. Members of every local in the state participated and more from locals in Oregon. Ninth District International Representative Rick Hite said:
IBEW members collectively were by far the largest labor union group present at the rally and it was certainly noticed by most.
Seattle Local 46 Business Manager Virgil Hamilton and Seattle Local 77 Business Manager Don Guillot addressed the crowd. A food wagon supplied by the Washington State Electrical Association served 7,000 hot dogs and soft drinks to those in attendance.
The rally received prominent coverage in the Tacoma-Seattle News Tribune.
Maureen Farr, a 65-year-old retired nurse, told the News Tribune:
Wisconsin has woken this country up.
The newspaper reported that the rally was the largest at the Capitol since 2003, when tens of thousands of Washington teachers gathered to protest cuts to education funding.
The Capitol Record carried a lengthy story on the rally. One of the issues under consideration in the state legislature is a change to the workers compensation law, called “compromise and release,” that unions say would cut benefits for injured workers who have paid into the insurance system.
The Record quoted Timm Kelly, an electrician who came to the rally with his son, a third-generation lineman. Timm says the legislative proposal would only leave him 30 percent of his benefits if he were injured on the job. He said:
We don’t have yachts. We are your core workers in your community, helping keep the communities alive. If I’m injured, I’ve given 34 years of life for what?