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The Pulse

From the President


Karen Strickland

2024 has started out with a burst of challenges and opportunities. We already knew this would be an enormously significant election year and Tuesday’s Iowa primary outcome reinforces that reality. The ongoing lack of effective functioning of the Republican-led House of Representatives offers a tiresome déjà vu, where passage of the federal budget is held hostage to extreme right-wing efforts to wreck our democracy and ignore the needs of people. Here in Washington, we have a solid state budget and have finally moved out of our first place position as the most regressive

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From the President

As 2023 wraps up I’m thinking about our achievements alongside our challenges; we’ve seen significant union organizing followed by big wins across the country and here at home. Last year, we saw a Supreme Court decision take away women’s rights to bodily autonomy and healthcare, and we saw voters in several states push back hard and protect those rights. We saw re-energized UAW workers demand their employers restore concessions made in earlier years and get creative with Stand Up strikes, resulting in winning far more at the table than they otherwise would have. Academics at Temple, Rutgers, University of Chicago and elsewhere have walked out to get what they need; right now, contingent faculty at Columbia College in Chicago are walking the line for the 49th day, the longest strike of contingent faculty ever! PreK-12 staff and teachers have also stood firm for better wages, smaller class sizes and more support staff. The message of Workers is loud and clear: Enough is Enough! And it’s working.

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From the President

Karen Strickland

No letter from Karen this month – we’re hard at work on prepping for the legislative session, getting our resolution work well underway, and digging into our coalition work! Look for a new letter next month.

Local Highlights & News

Our 2024 Legislative Agenda Is Set!

By Cortney Marabetta, Communications Specialist

The AFT Washington Executive Board passed the proposed legislative agenda at the November board meeting. You can review a draft of this document here.

This year’s legislative session is a short, non-budget year, so much of our work will be building

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From the President


Karen Strickland

Greetings Friends,

Fall has clearly arrived, and our union has reached the “school-year pace” at the local, state, and national levels. Many of you are in bargaining or preparing to go to the table, new local leaders are in the process of acclimating to new responsibilities and demands, our Advocacy Team and Leg Affairs Committee are working together to finalize our agenda for the 2024 session, and AFT is out front on strengthening the working conditions that allow us to thrive. Most recently you may have seen President Weingarten’s New York Times opinion piece

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June 2023

We’ve had an eventful first six months of 2023, kicking the year off with Lobby Day in February, ClassCon (our classified workers annual conference) in March, a Day of Action in April and Convention in May. All but ClassCon involved in-person activities and the consensus is that it feels really good to talk face to face to get re-acquainted or to meet for the first time IRL! We look forward to continuing our work in ways that take advantage of tech tools while maximizing the opportunities to build relationships through human contact. As I said in my remarks at our Friday evening convention celebration, I want to have those conversations on the way to the bathroom or making our way through the buffet line that may seem minor, but which open up possibilities.

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The legislative session is winding down just as we’re gearing up for convention – suffice it to say we’re juggling a lot of balls in the air! Our labor movement is seeing big wins at both the national and state level and we’re presented with the opportunity to capitalize on the momentum built by people who are saying, we can do better and we must do better! Workers deserve better jobs, young people deserve to grow up without fear of gun violence (and we all deserve to live without it), and students and educators alike deserve well-supported schools and colleges in which they thrive.

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Happy Post-Election Day! I feel relieved and perhaps even a little hopeful with the election results. Our fight for economic, racial, and social justice will continue in Washington State with a likely Senate pick-up and larger House majority, creating conditions allowing us to push back against the austerity messaging we’re encountering in our preparation for the legislative session. I’m even more optimistic about our non-budget legislative agenda. Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day – Senator Patty Murray has been a champion for veterans, consistently calling for expanding services and support throughout her tenure and recently helping pass the PACT Act which provides expanded support for veterans harmed by toxic burn pits. Illness associated with these burn pits are presumed to be caused by military-related exposure. Veteran’s Day gives us the opportunity to think about how we can translate statements of support to military personnel and veterans to actual support.

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Hard to believe we’re approaching the 3-year anniversary of the pandemic shutdown, yet here we are. I’m pleased to announce that over the break we filed a representation petition with PERC to represent professional/exempt staff at Walla Walla Community College. The next step is to come to agreement with management and PERC on which positions will be in the unit and then get to the bargaining table. As you read through this Pulse, you’ll see that AFT Washington Board member and faculty at Pierce College Jacqui Cain is working to organize professional staff at other colleges – if you know of colleagues at the CTCs who might be interested, Jacqui would welcome a conversation with them, so please reach out.

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First, I want to wish you and yours a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season. The many holidays celebrated at this time of year offer respite, reflection, relation and so much more, even while creating the potential added stress. Please do take care and seek the best these last weeks of 2022 have to offer.


Looking ahead into 2023, the AFT Washington Executive Board plans to offer several Race and Labor workshops in January and February, both in person and virtually. Board members Gillian Reese (Local 461), Peter Pihos (Local 2084), and David Ortiz (Local 6191) will be reaching out to local presidents by region to arrange workshops for local leaders. Our hope is that your local leadership will participate as a team and then host a workshop for your membership in Spring or Summer. This workshop is an opportunity to deepen understanding of systemic racism within our union and our workplaces and to strengthen our commitment to disrupting it constructively.

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I feel relieved and perhaps even a little hopeful with the election results. Our fight for economic, racial, and social justice will continue in Washington State with a likely Senate pick-up and larger House majority, creating conditions allowing us to push back against the austerity messaging we’re encountering in our preparation for the legislative session. I’m even more optimistic about our non-budget legislative agenda.

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