WFSECon17 delegates say: “100% Union – Aim Higher”

The Federation’s 2017 biennial convention ended Sunday in Seatac after delegates debated, networked, elected officers and put us on the path to victory against an expected adverse United States Supreme Court decision and what one newspaper called the “oligarchs” behind it. The high court’s hearing on the Janus case is expected early next year.

We can’t characterize the Janus case any better than the Sacramento Bee  did on Friday: “A pending Supreme Court case threatens to silence workers’ voices”

But WFSECon17 delegates said it doesn’t have to be this way.

“We don’t need to lose members because of Janus,” WFSE/AFSCME Executive Director Greg Devereux said in his “State of the Union” address to the convention on Sunday.

The 412 delegates defined the “path to victory” by passing a resolution leaving no doubt our aim is to sign up members on the new 100% Union card (“Aim Higher, Go Deeper, Reach Out”).

That measure (Resolution 8 submitted by Seattle Local 304) renews “our commitment to carry on the fight for fairness, justice and dignity for all workers no matter how fierce the opponents of equality and democracy are, no matter how great the odds against us may be, knowing that our union must lead in the labor movement and across the political spectrum in order to help sustain the hope for a better future for all.”

The emphatic action came in the wake of weeks of annoying direct mail, e-mail, phone calls and unwanted knocks on doors from this state’s branch of the national network that is out to “de-fund and de-fang us,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders told delegates Friday (Oct. 13).

“What’s at stake here is nothing less than freedom…,” Saunders said. “Our job will never be done…,” Saunders said. “The other side has deep pockets and political advantages but we’ve got guts and we’ve got grit. We’ve got thick skin and we’ve got spines. We will never quit.”

The delegates also passed Resolution 10 to further unite behind targeted groups, including defending unions and stopping right-to-work laws regardless of the outcome of the Janus case.

The delegates also elected the union’s officers, celebrated members’ bravery, organizing, leadership and commitment to the PEOPLE program, and met the staff in the union’s new Member Connection Center, which launched in the Vancouver and Yakima areas Monday and will go live statewide Nov. 6.

• Elections. The convention re-elected all four officers for another two-year term. They re-elected President Sue Henricksen (Local 53) in a race against challenger Adam Draude (Local 443). Incumbent Vice President Judy Kuschel (Local 313) was re-elected in a race against challenger Imelda Ang (Local 443). The other incumbents, Secretary Tracy Stanley (Local 1400) and Treasurer Don Hall (Local 1466) had no challengers, so were re-elected by acclamation.

• The convention honors:

Medal of Valor Awards — The Convention honored six recipients of the union’s Medal of Valor Awards at the Friday night gala: Elvin Bermudez and Nick Bickley, Local 931, Eastern Washington University; Mike Culley, Local 443, Labor and Industries; John “Kelly” Faircloth, Local 53, Corrections; and Kristin Tripp and Jose Sabalsa, Local 1253, Corrections.

Rosella Charvet Leadership Award – Aminata Salisbury, Local 1221.

Howard Jorgenson Organizing Award – Karla Covington, Local 313.

Howard Ocobock PEOPLE Award – Rainier School Local 491.

• Member Connection Center:

WFSECon17 delegates learned about the Member Connection Center going live statewide Nov. 6. This is the one-stop shop for union information and member support. The number to call for everyone come Nov. 6 is 833-MCC-WFSE (833-622-9373). E-mail:

Join the delegates to meet the member connection representatives who’ll be on the other end of the line:

Brian Harris, born and raised in Whatcom County, most recently was a management analyst with the Office of Minority & Women’s Business Enterprises.  As a joint law and MBA graduate, Brian brings a wealth of experience to the Member Connections Center. He is excited about advocating for the rights of WFSE members. 

Brent Reed was born in Orofino, Idaho and graduated from Clarkston (Wash.) High School. He spent four years in the United State Marines (mostly in Okinawa, Japan).  After his tour, he got married, worked first as a heating and air conditioning technician and then in pipefitting and welding. He and his family moved to Washington where he started working for DSHS/JRA at Green Hill School.  Brent became highly active in the union as a shop steward, local grievance committee, executive board, Policy Committee, and helped organize the Language Access Providers.

Emily Wiant comes to WFSE after completing her master’s in public administration at Portland State University, where she specialized in human resources and labor relations. While working as a graduate assistant in the Center for Public Service, Emily helped organize the certification of the Graduate Employee Union (GEU). Following the successful authorization card drive, Emily served on the executive council and bargaining team, where she assisted with GEU’s membership organizing, capacity building, contract negotiations, and organizational policy.

Paul Zurek may be a familiar name to members in the Tacoma and Seattle areas. He started as a member activist while working as support staff at DSHS. By volunteering for political action, leadership training, and community engagement he transitioned to a career with our Union. Training and professional development has allowed him to promote from support staff to Council Representative. Politics, organizing, representation, administration, and customer service are all in his wheelhouse. He is passionate about the rights of workers and is grateful to our union for giving him a professional outlet for that passion.

More on the convention at: