They’re baaaack: Eyman, liquor privatization return to Washington ballot

Organized labor is mobilizing in Washington state to defeat a pair of statewide initiatives on the November 8 ballot.

And in Clark County, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 is urging voters to approve a 0.2 percent increase to the local sales tax that pays for C-TRAN bus and paratransit service.

I-1125: Mucking up transportation funding

Initiative Measure 1125, authored by perennial union foe Tim Eyman, would forbid tolls that varied by day of the week or time of day, or tolling one bridge to pay for another. It would also take away the responsibility of setting toll rates from an independent non-partisan commission and give it to the Washington Legislature instead. If it passes, Washington would be the only state to set tolls by legislature. The measure is opposed by a coalition of business and labor groups known as Keep Washington Rolling that also includes environmental and community groups and state and local Democratic Party organizations. They say the measure would politicize tolling and make funding more volatile, thus driving up bond interest rates and making the Columbia River Crossing, Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct, and other projects, unaffordable.

I-1183: Privatizing liquor sales

Initiative Measure 1183, funded by Costco, would close 165 state liquor stores and sell their assets, and license private parties — if they have 10,000 square feet or more of retail space — to sell and distribute liquor. It would also eliminate the requirement that wine and liquor be sold at a uniform price. Washingtonians just last year voted down two similar initiatives, but Costco has invested $11 million to persuade voters to change their minds. The measure’s critics — including 22 labor organizations signed onto the Protect Our Communities coalition — say it would allow four times as many liquor outlets, and give big box chains an advantage over little stores. Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers in particular are opposed to the measure, because it would eliminate family-wage jobs for their members.

While Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, opposes I-1125 and I-1183, it’s recommending a “yes” vote on another meaure — Initiative 1163. Supported by Service Employees International Union, I-1163 would require long-term care workers to get training and certification.  “Currently Washington requires licenses for people who cut hair, but not for people who care for the elderly in their homes,” said WSLC spokesperson David Groves. “That doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

WSLC is also endorsing Vancouver state representative Sharon Wylie (Democrat, 49th District). Wylie was appointed in April to fill the seat of Jim Jacks, who resigned. She must win an off-year election to keep the seat.

Pennies for transit

In Clark County, labor groups are urging passage of C-TRAN Proposition 1. The measure would increase the local sales tax by 0.2 percent — two pennies on a 10 dollar purchase – to preserve C-TRAN bus and paratransit service. The tax is currently 0.5 percent. Without it, C-TRAN will have to cut service by 35 percent — eliminating 14 routes, all Sunday service and the Camas Connector, and reducing the hours and frequency of the remaining service. The measure is backed by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, which represents C-TRAN employees, as well as Southwest Washington Central Labor Council, Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48, Laborers, and Carpenters. Find out more at PreserveOurBuses.com.

Ballots are being mailed Oct. 21 and must be postmarked by Nov. 8 to be counted (this is unlike Oregon, where ballots must be received by Election Day.)

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