AFL-CIO - American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations

06/10/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/11/2024 07:44

It’s Been an Honor to Chronicle Labor History

David Groves is an inspiration to union communicators everywhere and the importance of his work building The Stand to uplift worker stories cannot be overstated. Thank you for your dedication to the labor movement.

My career at the WSLC has given me a front-row seat and an active role in historic events and campaigns. From the WTO Seattle proteststo the demise of "free trade."From Boeing's f-upsto the Freedom Foundation's f-wits.

For example, I'll never forget joining former WSLC President Rick Bender at the Secretary of State's office in the Capitol building in 1998 as he filed Initiative 688 to raise the minimum wage. No pomp or press conference. He unceremoniously filed the paperwork and paid the $5 fee while, across the building in the legislative chambers, U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich was addressing Washington's Republican-controlled (!) House and Senate.

I got to design the I-688 petition and the admittedly primitive campaign logo - that's my signature on the dollar bill - and I spent many lunch hours and ferry commutes collecting signatures. In the end, I-688 qualified for the ballot using only volunteer signature gatherers, it passed by a two-thirds majority, and Washington became the first state in the nation to automatically increase its state minimum wage each year to adjust for inflation.

That is the power of Washington's union movement being put to use, as it often is, to benefit all workers in our state, and to show the nation what is possible.

In those heady early days after I became the communications director, I represented the WSLC and promoted labor's advocacy on local television and radio news shows. I once even took on a Boeing CEOon the front page of The Seattle Times for saying that Washington sucked. But I soon eschewed the role of spokesperson to focus on lifting up the work of rank-and-file members and elected leaders of Washington's union movement.

So I returned to my journalism roots and began reporting labor news, and in the process, chronicling our history. It began with the creation of the WSLC's first website, the most popular feature of which was WSLC Reports Today (Updated DAILY…Almost Every Day!™) It included an original WSLC report or two and also linked readers to each day's news related to unions and working people in the commercial press.

If that sounds familiar, that was the template for what would become The STAND.

Launched on May Day 2011, this "newsstand about taking a stand" was a unique undertaking: a daily news service curated and edited by a person, not via keyword searches or automated news aggregators. It's been a labor-intensive project (in both senses of the word), but it's been worth it. The award-winning STAND has become an important tool for publicizing unions' activities, campaigns and causes, and it has demonstrated and promoted transparency in Washington's labor movement.

I've been truly fortunate to get to do this important work for more than 32 years. Like many of the people I write about every day, I've enjoyed the benefits and stability of a good Union job. (Thanks, OPEIU Local 8!) During my tenure at the WSLC, I married the love of my life, bought a home, and raised/launched three wonderful children-the youngest of whom is following in her dad's footsteps working as a labor communicator! I'm not ready to retire just yet, but I'm excited about trying something new for Act III of my career.

Thank you to the WSLC officers, past and present, for their guidance and inspiration and for trusting me with the production of a daily electronic newspaper. Thank you to all of the WSLC staffers over the years who taught me about labor movement, supported my work, and indulged my sense of humor. Thank you to the many leaders and rank-and-file members of WSLC-affiliated unions who I have had the absolute honor of working alongside these many years.

I leave confident that the WSLC and The STAND are in good hands. Continue to expect great things from the best AFL-CIO state federation in the country.

Thanks for reading.

This post originally appeared at The Stand.