The Labor community has a lot to smile about after the certification of the primary results. All but six MLKCLC endorsed candidates crossed the top two threshold to fight on through the general election. South King County is the most union dense area of the county and with that comes the opportunity to make those City Councils worker-powered and worker-centric. Over the past three weeks, we offered a closer look at our priority candidates in South King races in Auburn and Burien, Des Moines and Federal Way, and Kent. In this final week, we turn our focus to the Tukwila City Council, Position 5 candidates.
When the Labor Council COPE committee comes together to interview candidates, sometimes there are two who would be great elected officials for the same position. In that instance, we offer a ‘dual endorsement.' That is the situation we found ourselves in in the race for Tukwila City Council, Position 5. Zak Idan and Dennis Martinez are two union members who impressed Labor to the point of a dual endorsement, and they are going head-to-head in the general election. This week we’re offering a different format to get to know these candidates than you've come accustomed to over the past three weeks. In their own words: a Q&A session. Here we go!
What perspective do you think you will bring to the office that isn’t already represented?
Idan: I have a great appreciation for America and Tukwila that I believe is unique to me. Tukwila saved me. The people of Tukwila were good to us when we first moved here. It has become the type of home that I dreamed of. So in office, I will think about the Americans who had to earn the right to be called Americans. I will think about the community that is and make sure that it is as inviting to the people arriving now, as it was to me. I will bring a vision of culture that is not on the council now.
Martinez: I can offer an experienced voice in construction costs and scheduling for public works and private industry projects. With 39 years in the construction industry, I feel this is truly needed on our Council with all the projects that are scheduled for our community.
Think of one strength, an area you think you have something to offer to the Council? (please explain)
Idan: My greatest strength is my training and experience in city and urban planning and construction. So much of the job of a city council is land use. Where to build, what to build and how to make it work for the existing community. When a plan comes that will build, I will understand the plan and will know if the plan is right for Tukwila.
Martinez: Experience in budgeting. City Councils deal with budgeting, and I feel that proper research with the gathering of all information related to cost is essential to making decisions that will affect our residents. For the last 19 years, I have worked for a small minority-owned business and helped to navigate through rough economic times. I have worked with extremely tight budgets on our project in order to make a profit.
A great example can be seen within my current campaign. I have chosen to run a local grassroots campaign and have self-funded over half of the monies in donations. I believe that the community must see the level of commitment each candidate is willing to put forth for the position that they are running for.
Are there ways in which the Council is not operating towards/for the betterment of your community? If so, what are they and how do you hope to change that when you join the council?
Idan: I actually believe we have a good Council. I trust in the Council. I am running to keep that good work going. The seat I am up for is open due to a retirement, so it's not about me being better than anyone on the Council or the Council being bad. But I am different and unique in politics right now, and I will bring something new just by being on the Council. I believe I am a voice of the invisible in our community.
Martinez: Community involvement. I have spoken in favor of Small Contractor and Supplier (SCS) registration and Project Labor Agreements (PLA's) as well as Community Work Agreements (CWA) and Priority Hiring agreements for the last 2½ years with the current Council. With these programs, our residents would have opportunities to compete for positions and contracts within the community to help raise our income levels and standard of living. With housing costs rising and our median household income in Tukwila at $42,00 and national level at $59,000, we must offer our residents opportunity to provide a future with promise rather than despair.
What type of work do you do? What is your typical workday like and how will those skills transfer to the work you will do for City Council?
Idan: I am a Project Control Engineer II for King County. My job is to develop, implement and maintain cost controls on a project, and provide centralized planning and scheduling on many projects. To me, this is the exact skill that I need for City Council. The Council oversees a series of public works projects and approves private projects. We are also responsible for the public tax dollars so controlling costs is important as well.
Martinez: I recently retired as a 39-year member of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, and for the last 16 of those years, I was a project estimator and project manager. My time now is spent doorbelling for my campaign and listening to my community’s concerns, while also making time to get my grandsons to school. I can offer an understanding of true cost and an ability to find solutions to concerns that will not cost taxpayers additional money.
What is the importance of union members running for office?
Idan: I believe it is vital. I am a union member, and I know what my job does for my family. It is important to have elected officials or even candidates who understand this from experience. Then they will be able to know the full value of union work.
Martinez: Labor knows local. Union members know the concerns and struggles of our community, such as housing, taxes, public safety, and infrastructure concerns. Labor also has experience in finding solutions to issues in our community and to help resolve them with little or no cost. Ultimately, it is our tax dollars that pay for any and all decisions made in local government.
What issue will be your primary focus? If not one, top two? (please explain)
Idan: Infrastructure and transportation. We need to make sure we have housing at every level of life. From those in college to those in retirement. That means housing and that means construction and infrastructure. I also want to work on transportation to the best of my ability on the council. Moving people around South King County is difficult at times. We need real, long-term solutions for the coming years.
Martinez: I feel that a Skills Training Center is needed in our community to help promote our residents into living wage jobs. This has been a goal of mine for the last five years and is needed to help fill the labor shortage that is happening in the Puget Sound region. I want to see community hiring with the programs I’ve outlined above.
Both candidates were asked about volunteer opportunities to support their campaigns:
For Zak Idan you can visit his Facebook page for events.
Dennis Martinez opted to plug the Diversity and Inclusion Industry Panel & Resource Event for Apprenticeship Pathways to Construction Careers. Free attendance and food but space is limited, register online. What: Apprenticeship Pathways to Construction Careers Event on Diversity and Inclusion Industry Panel & Resource Event When: Thursday, September 21, 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Where: Foster High School Auditorium, 4242 S. 144th St., Tukwila
Other South King County Endorsements There are several races across South King County that we did not cover. The endorsed candidates in those races are listed below along with campaign Facebook and website information if available. Please follow them to find out more about those races.
Next week we will begin offering union (SEIU 925) provided child care at the monthly delegate meetings in Hall 6. We will also begin the first of several discussions on Right to Work featuring members of the Women Labor Leaders in Action (WLLA), a pilot program of the National AFL-CIO, and M.L. King County Labor Council Organizing Director Peter Hasegawa. The discussion will center around the Right to Work resolution that was passed by delegates at the WSLC convention in August, and how we can do the work necessary to advance the resolution within our locals. Don't miss it! What: M.L. King County Labor Council Delegate's Meeting When: Wednesday, September 20, 6:00 p.m. Where: Hall 1, Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 1st Avenue
Welfare & Pension Workers Strike
OPEIU Local 8 held a Solidarity Rally for striking employees at WPAS on Thursday, September 14. The rally was a morale boost for these brothers and sisters who have been off the job for more than a month. Going out on strike is a moral choice and courageous act, but it comes with a financial cost. Local 8 has established a Go Fund Me page to help support these workers. WPAS employees have helped thousands of union members navigate the intricacies of our healthcare and pension plans; now it's our turn to help them. Contributions will help mitigate the financial burden of this fight. Please give what you can. Negotiating for a fair return on our work is one of the most just causes of our time. Let's do more than telling them we support them, let's show them. What: WPAS Picket Line When: Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (until they get a contract!) Where: Welfare & Pension Inc. offices, 7525 SE 24th St, Mercer Island Call: (206)441-7574 ext. 3940, to demand WPAS employees receive a FAIR contract. Contribute: Visit Go Fund Me to make a contribution.
Key Arena MOU on the Agenda for City Council
The city has reached a tentative agreement with Oak View Group to build a $660 million arena, to break ground in 2018. The proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is speaking our language: Project Labor Agreements, Labor Harmony Agreements and includes tens of millions of dollars for transportation solutions in the region. This project promises to be a boon for unions and meets all criteria to attract NBA and NHL teams to Seattle. Join the M.L. King County Labor Council, and interested parties on Monday, September 18 as the City Council Committee on Civic Arenas meets to hear public comments on the MOU.
What: Seattle City Council Select Committee on Civic Arenas
Where: Council Chambers, Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Avenue
When: Monday, September 18, meet outside of Council Chambers at 9:30 a.m., meeting at 10:30 a.m.
Contact: TEXT Nicole Grant at (206) 618-1429, if you can testify.
Labor for Teresa Volunteer Opportunities
What: Labor for Teresa Doorbelling When: Saturday, September 23, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Where: Northgate Community Center, 10510 5th Avenue NE, Seattle
What: Labor for Teresa Doorbelling When: Saturday, September 30, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Where: IAM South Park, 1500 South 91st Street, Seattle
OWLS Calls for Picket of Union Busting Freedom Foundation
Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS), is organizing a picket of the Freedom Foundation's annual fundraiser on Friday, September 29th. The Freedom Foundation’s racist rightwing agenda openly declares its goal is to “defund and bankrupt public employee unions.” The keynote speaker is fast-food billionaire Andrew Puzder, who was Donald Trump’s first pick for Secretary of Labor. The former CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc. (Carl's Jr., Hardee's, etc.), is well known for his opposition to minimum wage laws and other worker protections. This year the Freedom Foundation has continued efforts to make Washington a “right to work” (for starvation wages) state, and to roll back recent minimum wage increases and other labor gains. The Foundation recently filed lawsuits to stop the City of Seattle’s proposed tax on high income earners, and to prevent unionization of Uber and Lyft drivers. The event has been endorse by the MLKCLC, Carpenters Local 30, WFSE Local 304 and Puget Sound CBTU. Other labor and community groups are invited to endorse and participate. View the event flyer. What: Picket the Union Busting Freedom Foundation When: Friday, September 29th, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Where: Bellevue Westin Hotel, NE 6th Street and Bellevue Way Contact: Maxine Reigel at 206-949-4552 or Patrick Burns at 206-261-1420, or email OWLS at OWLS@riseup.net to endorse the picket or for information.
Looking for more local labor news? You can count on the Washington State Labor Council’s online publication, The Stand, to keep you informed.