Politics is an integral part of worker power, because elected officials can make a huge difference in our lives.
For example, in 2006 and 2007, the support of community groups and politicians helped us win the best hotel Union contract in the history of Local 8 at the Westin Seattle.
In the next several years, Port of Seattle Commissioners will decide who runs food service concessions at the airport and whether long-term Union members will keep their jobs, wages and benefits. The King County Council and Seattle City Council will have a say in whether the hotel industry grows in a workerfriendly direction.
For all those reasons, it is our goal at Local 8 to increase and improve our efforts to create a political program that builds power for workers in the hospitality industry. In a big step in that direction, Melody Swett, shop steward at the Westin Seattle, agreed to join our Union’s political team for this past election season. Because of her work, we were able to register more members to vote than ever before, get committee leaders and shop stewards involved in our electoral campaign work, increase our voter turnout and show key candidates that we are serious about supporting them and their field campaigns.
We helped defeat the antiworker initiative 1082, which would have privatized our workers’ compensation insurance system for on-the-job injuries, we helped re-elect Senator Patty Murray, and we made a difference in many smaller local races. The experience of running a comprehensive political program this year will help us be ready for the 2011 election season, when many important local races will be on the ballot while we negotiate union contracts in all major King County union hotels.