The passing of Proposition One in SeaTac is truly an incredible step towards living wages for our community and beyond! For me the issue of worker’s rights in SeaTac is the campaign that has shaped my understanding of the persistence, strength and determination of workers united.
I’ll never forget how little I knew on the day of my first action in SeaTac on the second or third day of orientation for the Justice Leadership Program in September 2012. For a start, I really shouldn’t have worn flats. Sneakers would have been a better choice. Beyond my new footwear wisdom, I learned what it was like to participate in a large action that brought together workers, people of faith, union members and countless community groups with a united voice. Hundreds of us gathered together and marched to the headquarters of Alaska Airlines, calling out for better jobs and respect for all the people who work at our airport. This was only one of the many ways that people had, and would continue to work towards this goal.
Over the next year, I was standing with workers as they filed complaints with the Department of Labor and Industry, as they stood in front of news cameras and talked about the health and safety violations, and as they talked to their managers about respect and dignity in the workplace. I also stood with them as they spoke out at the Shareholders meeting and as they requested union recognition.
It was working on this campaign that gave me the framework to learn about power that comes from not only hearing about the statistics that point towards solutions, but the people who are living those statistics every day. In talking to the workers and hearing their stories I was opened up to the way that the workers knew what they needed to change. They were the best ones to identify the ways that changes to policies and attitudes could impact their work environment. They were the best ones to explain how low wages and unsafe conditions were impacting them and their families. They were the best ones to lead the way. And what an incredible place they have brought us to!
I am thrilled that Proposition One has passed and I stand with the workers as it is now being fought out in court. Beyond the joy that I feel, what I am truly struck by is my deep gratitude for the incredible learning and growing that this campaign allowed me to experience through my internship year and beyond.