Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) president Jeff Johnson announced June 13 that he’ll retire at the end of the year and won’t seek re-election.
WSLC is the state-level body of the AFL-CIO union federation, and helps coordinate the political and legislative efforts of roughly 600 affiliated local unions with 450,000 members in all.
Johnson, 66, has worked for WSLC since 1986. Before becoming WSLC president in 2011, he served as WSLC’s lead lobbyist and as its research and organizing director.
During his years there, WSLC helped to win major improvements for working Washingtonians. Washington became the first state to index its minimum wage to inflation, and today has the highest minimum wage in the country. WSLC also helped pass legislation expanding public sector collective bargaining rights, and it fought successfully to pass a ballot initiative mandating paid sick leave.
Johnson got his start in the union movement in 1979 as a labor educator at Empire State College Center for Labor Studies in New York City, where he was a member of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 2190.
In a tweet reacting to news of Johnson’s retirement, Washington Governor Jay Inslee called him “a true champion for all workers and their families,” and a leader on minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, and clean energy jobs.
To replace him, Johnson said he’ll support WSLC secretary-treasurer Lynne Dodson, and WSLC Political and Strategic Campaign Director April Sims is running to succeed Dodson. The election will take place this fall. At least one other candidate is considering running for WSLC president: Machinists District Lodge 751 Legislative and Political Director Larry Brown, who’s also a member of Auburn City Council.