By Don McIntosh
Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) will have new leadership Jan. 5. After a closely contested race, veteran Machinist union political director Larry Brown was elected president with the support of affiliated unions totaling 52.1 percent of WSLC’s membership. Brown outpolled Lynne Dodson — WSLC’s current secretary-treasurer — who was backed by outgoing WSLC president Jeff Johnson and affiliated unions totaling 47.9 percent. Dodson was on a ticket alongside WSLC Political Director April Sims, who ran unopposed for WSLC secretary-treasurer.
The election results, announced Dec. 6, also included 28 other members of the WSLC Executive Board. WSLC is the coordinating body for more than 600 AFL-CIO-affiliated local unions in Washington, representing about 450,000 workers.
In the contest for WSLC president, Brown was backed by the Machinists, Teamsters, Fire Fighters, and most building trades unions, while Dodson had the support of United Food and Commercial Workers and most public sector unions. The two candidates waged an energetic but respectful campaign from June to December. Brown, praising Dodson as a trailblazer and champ- ion for social justice, said his first job will be to reach out to her supporters.
Brown, 64, said he wants to see WSLC focus on core labor issues, while empowering its affiliated constituency groups to work on issues of social justice. Brown has served as legislative and political director for Machinists (IAM) District Council 751 since 2006. A self-described aerospace geek, he worked at the Rocketdyne space shuttle plant Canoga Park, California, as a NASA quality assurance representative after serving in the U.S. Navy from 1973 to 1977. Recruited by Boeing in 1979, he moved to Auburn, Washington, and became an active member of Machinists District 751. He joined the staff in 1997, working first as a business representative.
His daughter Cara Mattson is a union rep at Teamsters Local 117, the same union his wife Donna Brown belongs to in her job at Avis car rental.
In 2017, Brown was elected to the city council in Auburn, Washington, a city of 80,000 between Seattle and Tacoma. He plans to continue to serve on the city council, which meets twice a month.
Incoming secretary-treasurer April Sims is the first person of color to be elected as a WSLC executive officer. Sims has served as WSLC’s political director since 2015. She comes out of the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28, where from 2002 to 2015, she went from member to shop steward, union officer, and finally legislative and political action field coordinator.
Besides president and secretary-treasurer, affiliated unions also elected 20 vice presidents representing six geographic districts, plus eight vice presidents to represent the interests of AFL-CIO-affiliated constituency groups for women, LGBTQ, retired, young, Black, Latino, and Asian Pacific American union members. In addition, any affiliated international union with over 10,000 Washington members that doesn’t have an elected vice president will get to appoint an at-large vice president. Together, the top two officers and all the vice presidents make up the WSLC Executive Board, which meets quarterly to set WSLC’s policies and priorities between annual conventions.
WSLC’s six geographic districts at one time corresponded to Washington Congressional districts. (Today the state has 10 Congressional Districts.)
For the Third District (Southwest Washington), affiliated unions elected three vice presidents:
- Steven Segall of Washington Federation of State Employees (AFSCME Local 443)
- Shannon Walker of Machinists Woodworkers Local Lodge W536
- Bob Guenther of IBEW Local 77
All offices come with four-year terms which begin Jan. 5, 2019.
[COMPLETE ELECTION RESULTS: See the full list of officers elected by Washingon State Labor Council affiliates here.]