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Longtime staff member Jeff Johnson elected new president of Washington State Labor Council

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Dec. 10, 2010 at 10:10 am with No Comments »
December 10, 2010 10:14 am

Jeff Johnson, who has worked for the organization of AFL-CIO affiliated unions since 1986, is a familiar face around Olympia.

Now he will be the primary voice of organized labor in the state.

Delegates representing about 500 union locals and councils and some 400,000 unionized workers elected Johnson to succeed Rick Bender who is retiring.

Johnson has been the council’s research and organizing director, lead lobbyist and special assistant to the president.

Also elected was Secretary-Treasurer Lynne Dodson to replace Al Link who also is retiring. Dodson is the first woman elected to a top leadership post since the council was created in 1957 following the merger of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

Dodson is a professor at Seattle Community College and has been a leader of the American Federation of Teachers.

Said Johnson in a prepared statement: “I look forward to working with our unions, our community allies, and the public to make sure that working people’s voices and views are heard at both the workplace and in the broader community in an effort to create a vision of shared prosperity.”

Here’s the press release announcing the election: State’s largest union 
group elects new leaders

Johnson, Dodson will succeed retiring Bender, Link

Jeff Johnson has been elected President and Lynne Dodson has been elected Secretary-Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the state’s largest union organization representing the interests of more than 500 locals/councils and some 400,000 rank-and-file members. Johnson and Dodson will succeed President Rick Bender and Secretary-Treasurer Al Link, who are retiring after serving since 1993 and 1994, respectively.

Voting by WSLC- affiliated unions has happened over the past several weeks. A Teller Committee, elected at the 2010 WSLC Convention in Tacoma, counted the ballots on Thursday.

Johnson has served on the WSLC staff since 1986, including as Research and Organizing Director, Lead Lobbyist and Special Assistant to the President. His work has focused on legislation to improve working families’ lives through increasing collective bargaining and organizing rights, economic justice and anti-poverty measures, strengthening our workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and employment standards, improving our health care system, and protecting the rights of farm workers and immigrant workers.

Johnson released the following statement today:

“It is my great honor to be elected President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. As a labor movement, we have our work cut out for us in these challenging times. Not since the ‘Gilded Age,’ have we faced such inequality of income and wealth; poverty and foreclosure rates are at dizzying heights; there are more long-term unemployed than at any time since the Great Depression; cornerstone programs like Social Security and Medicare are under attack; and public employees and the critical services they provide are being scapegoated as part of the problem. And all the while, banks sit on nearly a trillion dollars in reserves and quarterly corporate profits have hit an all-time high.

“We are facing a moral crisis, a crisis of values, and we have a choice to make. Are we going to rebuild our economy with family-wage jobs based on a vision of shared prosperity and a sense of economic and social justice? Or are we going to continue to turn a blind eye to the excesses of Wall Street and corporate America?

“I look forward to working with our unions, our community allies, and the public to make sure that working people’s voices and views are heard at both the workplace and in the broader community in an effort to create a vision of shared prosperity.”

Lynne Dodson is the first woman to be elected as an executive officer in the history of the Council, which was formed in 1957 with the merger of the Washington Federation of Labor and the Washington Congress of Industrial Organizations Council. She is a professor at Seattle Central Community College, President of AFT Local 1789, First Vice President of AFT Washington, and an Executive Board Member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. County Labor Council. She has a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Washington.

Dodson issued the following statement today:

“I’m honored and humbled to be elected to this position. The labor movement in Washington state is our best hope for building the kind of state and country we want and need — one where social, economic, and racial justice prevail. As we continue struggling through this Great Recession — with unemployment, budget cuts and home foreclosures all squeezing workers — our labor movement will show strong bold leadership.

“I’m looking forward to working with the dedicated officers, board, staff, and affiliates of the WSLC to continue to strengthen a labor movement that builds the middle class, restores the social safety net to protect our most vulnerable neighbors, fights for workers’ rights, joins together in solidarity to increase our collective strength, and moves our state forward.”

Every four years, the Washington State Labor Council’s affiliated unions elect the President and Secretary-Treasurer — who manage the council’s day-to-day operations — and 19 Vice Presidents who represent districts around the state, plus several Vice Presidents to represent constituency groups. Together, they comprise the Executive Board, which meets quarterly to establish WSLC policies and programs between conventions.

Here are the election results for Vice Presidents:

Todd Crosby, UFCW
David Freiboth, IBU
Lee Newgent, Ironworkers
Sandra Schroeder, AFT
Tom Wroblewski, IAM


Darrell Chapman, IBEW
Don Houtchens, USW
Robert James, NALC


Bob Guenther, IBEW
Tim Pfeifer, AWPPW
Shannon Walker, UFCW


Rick Barrickman, IUOE
Eric Thrift, LIUNA
Mark Reavis, LIUNA

Kandy Kraig, AFSCME
Beth Thew, CWA


Rick Johnson, IBEW
Vance Lelli, ILWU
Patty Rose, IBEW


Robby Stern
Alliance for Retired Americans

Bob Hasegawa
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

Lee Malinda
Pride At Work

Fred Monroe
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Mari Wyatt
Coalition of Labor Union Women

By Constitution, international unions that are not represented on the WSLC Executive Board, but whose affiliated unions have per capita representation of at least 10,000 members may appoint a representative to the Executive Board. Stan Sorscher of SPEEA/IFPTE 2001 has served as At-Large Vice President, representing the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.

New officers will serve 4-year terms that begin on Jan. 5, 2011.

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