South Seattle Community College
6737 Corson Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 934.5350
Puget Sound Industrial Excellence Center
Apprenticeship and Education Center
Washington Safety and Health Training Institute
Washington State Labor Education and Research Center
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We are proud to have met so many workers who care deeply about advancing workers rights in Washington State and beyond.

"The Best is Yet to Come: The Future of Jobs and Organizing"

Sliding Scale: $10 - $50 


February 22 Banquet and Keynote, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.  

South Seattle College main campus, Brockey Center, 6000 16th Ave. SW

Keynote Address "Democracy Under Attack" by Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President 


 February 23 Conference, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

South Seattle College Georgetown campus, 6737 Corson Ave. S. Building C

9:00 - 10:30 a.m. Opening Plenary: "Overcoming Barriers to Solidarity in the Workplace"

10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Breakout Sessions, Round One  (Subject to Change)    

  • Race and Labor
  • Aerospace Jobs and Organizing
  • Choke Point Logistics Workers Seizing Power
  • Raising our Voices for Safety
  • Pathways to Prosperity for All: Apprenticeship as Workforce Development for the Future
  • Organizing and Policy Partnership 1: Unions and Community Organizations Raising the Floor

12:15 - 1:15 p.m. Lunch

1:15 - 2:45 p.m. Breakout Sessions, Round Two (Subject to Change)

Closing Plenary: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. "The Future of Organizing"


 Detailed Conference Information

                          Friday, February 22nd

Keynote Address by Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO
Democracy Under Attack – Impacts on Jobs and Organizing and How to Build a Fighting Movement in Response
Democracy is under attack here in the United States and around the world. Voter suppression and right-wing political ideologies are on the rise. This drive to limit political participation based on racism and xenophobia creates a pressing need for a robust social movement based in the lived realities of working class people from every background. Leaders and activists from unions, community-based workers’ organizations, and labor education have a critical role to play in this movement building moment. Come hear progressive labor leader Tefere Gebre, lay out what’s at stake and what we need to do going forward.

Cultural Performance: ANiMA


Jyun Jyun and missTANGQ create multi-disciplinary, interactive installations and performances that bring global perspectives, a reverence for nature, and traditional ritual practices to contemporary life. At the heart of their collaborations is the exploration and reshaping of collective mythos and cultural patterns. They believe that activating multi-dimensional perception creates new possibilities within our imagination, remixing our past, present and future to better understand ourselves and our potential. Uniting music production, dance, visual art and new media, they create timely work that inspires and challenges audiences, deconstructing outdated cultural borders through the building of compassion and insight.

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                          Saturday, February 23rd: Conference

8:00-9:00 a.m: Check-in

Opening Plenary 9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Overcoming Barriers to Solidarity in the Workplace

In this era of Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, students and young workers demanding serious action on climate change and gun control, attacks on the transgender community, and more, union leaders and activists need to take more seriously than ever our role as advocates for solidarity. Too often, identity politics have been used to drive wedges between working people instead of focusing on the real power struggle in the employment relationship. Panelists will address how racism emerged under and facilitated the development of capitalism, how to make critical issues for future generations central to our organizations, what's at stake for LGBTQ workers, and leadership skills to reach out across difference. 

Moderator: Tefere Gebre

  • Bill Fletcher Jr. , Author and Activist
  • April Sims, Secretary-Treasurer Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • Shaunie Wheeler, President, Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders
  • Marsha Botzer, Ingersoll Gender Center

10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m: Breakout Sessions, Round One

Race and Labor
Nativism and white supremacy are not relics of the past, nor are they limited to white hoods. Racism persists as a wedge issue that we must overcome in order to achieve justice and dignity for workers of all races. In this workshop, we trace the origins of “whiteness” back to colonialism and capitalism, then apply this historical lens to tackling interpersonal white supremacy in our unions and workplaces.


  • April Sims, Secretary-Treasurer, Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • Cherika Carter,Field Mobilization Director, Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • Amy Yi, Educator, Washington State Labor Education and Research Center

Aerospace Jobs and Organizing
IAM and SPEEA have been the canaries in the coal mine within labor. Not only are their members highly paid, but these unions and workers are part of a billion dollar industry -- there is simultaneously a lot of leverage and a lot at stake. From a proud history of militant action and the loss of defined benefits, these unions’ challenges and organizing portend the future of other unions. From automation to worker demographics, the aerospace industry is changing. This discussion will focus on what these jobs look like today and how organizing is adapting in kind. While this is aerospace specific, the challenges and strategies are not unique to this industry and participants from other industries will benefit from this rich and illuminating conversation.    

Moderator: Jon Holden, District President, IAM 751

  • Susanne Murphy, Organizer, SPEEA
  • Bill Razeto, Organizer, SPEEA
  • Jesse Cote, Organizing Director, IAM 751

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Choke Points: Logistics Workers Seizing Power
Combined, the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma and Seatac Air Freight are the 4th largest port in the United States by sheer volume and value of trade. More than 70,000 workers transport and warehouse goods. Currently, only 10% of those jobs are unionized. Panelists will discuss how choke points located throughout that logistics supply chain can be used to organize and build working class power.
Moderator: Dan O'Donnell, Labor Educator, WA Labor Education and Research Center

  • Hibaq Mohamed, Amazon Organizer for the AWOOD Center
  • Leonard Smith, Director if Organizing, Teamsters Local Union 117
  • Phil Neel, University of Washington, author of "Logistics Cities: Poverty, Immigration and Employment in Seattle's Southern Suburbs"
  • TBA, International Longshore and Warehouse Union
  • TBA, Teamsters Local 174
  • Spencer Cox, Democratic Socialists of America, former Amazon employee

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Raising our Voices for Safety

Unions have championed worker safety for decades.  In 1970, unions were among the leaders that supported the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Unfortunately, today we are seeing many of the safety rules and regulations weakened or rolled back. The Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is still not appointed. Unions continue to fight for safe working conditions. This panel brings together union leaders from construction, healthcare, and the refinery industries to describe different strategies and approaches for staying safe and alive on the job.
Moderated by: 

  • Nancy Simcox, Director of Continuing Education, Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Washington
  • Jessica Porter, Masters Student, Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Washington


  • Leslie Phillips, Director of Population Health and Safety Services, SEIU 775 Benefits Group
  • Steve Garey, former President of United Steelworkers Union Local 12-591; representative of BlueGreen Alliance
  • Hannah Curtis, Program Coordinator "Safety and Health Empowerment for Women in the Trades" study, University of Washington, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS)

Pathways to Prosperity for All: Apprenticeship as Workforce Development for the Future

Apprenticeships were born in the era of craft unions as a method of training and controlling the supply of skilled labor to keep wages high, focused in the building and construction trades. Today, apprenticeships can extend economic opportunity more broadly. Currently, the types of work that could develop apprenticeship programs is rapidly expanding. This offers exciting opportunity to extend access to good jobs to members of historically marginalized groups. This panel addresses the changes in apprenticeships and workforce development and ways in which these paths to prosperity are becoming more accessible.

Moderator: Adair Dammann, Director, WA Labor Education and Research Center


  • Kairie Pierce, Workforce Development Director, Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO
  • David Bredenbeck, Director of the Apprenticeship Collaboratory at South Seattle College
  • Megan Clark,  Apprenticeship and Non-traditional Employment for Women
  • Chris Bryant, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 5

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Organizing and Policy Partnerships 1: Unions and Community Organizations Raising the Floor

Unions have led or provided major support for dozens of employment-related policy wins in Washington State and around the country -- raising the minimum wage, paid sick and family leave, domestic worker and wage theft protections, secure scheduling and many more. This panel will look at a number of key questions about this kind of political organizing. What have we learned about how labor standards can be improved though the political process? Are these new laws being enforced? How do these policies affect workers in both regular and nonstandard jobs?

Moderator: Kim England, Director of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, University of Washington


  • Marcos Martinez, Executive Director, Casa Latina
  • Samantha Grad, Political Organizer, UFCW Local 21
  • Andrew Beane, Vice President SEIU 775

12:15-1:15 p.m: Lunch

EXHIBIT: Solidarity City - Documenting 100 Years of Worker Power in Seattle

The Seattle General Strike of 1919 lives on in popular memory as a testament to the power of solidarity and direct action by working people. Conor Casey, Director of the Labor Archives of Washington (UW Special Collections) will be available to discuss the collection of strike materials and the Solidarity Centennial exhibit.

1:15-2:45 Breakout Sessions, Round Two

Education Justice: Union Power for the Public Good
Across the United States, educators are taking militant action demanding fair compensation, respect for the work they do, and increased public funding to provide their students with the resources they need to thrive. Higher education workers are organizing to end precarious working conditions and for real academic freedom. Panelist in this session will discuss specific challenges facing educators in Washington State, and highlight exciting and innovative union campaigns winning education justice across the country.
Moderator: Larry Cushnie, Faculty Forward Union (SEIU 925) 


  • Phyllis Campano, President of the Seattle Education Association
  • Chris Baehrend, President of the Chicago Association of Charter Teachers, Chicago Teachers Union
  • Karen Strickland, President of the Washington State, American Federation of Teachers
  • David Parsons, President, Graduate Employees Organization UAW 4121 (University of Washington)

Beating Apathy

Facilitator: Dan O'Donnell, Labor Educator, WA Labor Education and Research Center 

Do you believe that your co-workers really don't care about your union and aren't interested in improving conditions on the job? If so, you probably don't feel very inspired to organize. This workshop will give you the opportunity to explore what underlies that "apathy." What really keeps workers from standing up for themselves and each other, even when they have the protections of a union contract? This workshop will offer you practical tools to overcome fear, hopelessness, division, confusion, and inaction.

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Solidarity in Action: Sanctuary Unions
“Solidarity” is a word we often hear in labor, but what does it look like in practice, especially when it comes to protecting immigrant workers in the current climate of xenophobia and government crack-downs? What tools are unionists using now and what new strategies might we adopt? In this workshop, model contract language and sanctuary resolutions will be presented and participants will walk away with practical, substantive ways to support immigrant union members.
Facilitated by:

  • Eunice How, Organizer, UNITE HERE 8
  • Amy Yi, Labor Educator, WA Labor Education and Research Center

Tech Jobs and Organizing

What do you think of when you think of a "tech worker"? Beyond our assumptions of wealth and apathy, there is some exciting organizing happening in this sector, and workplaces desperately in need of organizing. In late 2018 Amazon programmers organizing with 350 Seattle leveraged their shareholder status to demand the logistics corporation become more transparent and accountable in its polluting practices. Tech Workers Coalition and Game Workers Unite both are emergent groups organizing to better their toxic and often precarious working conditions, notably also addressing misogyny, homophobia and white supremacy in their mission statements. WashTech, of course, were pioneers in this industry, organizing Microsoft in the late nineties with some notable victories. Come meet organizers from these organizations and hear their stories; the activism and workplace organizing in this sector are just heating up!

Moderator: Marcus Courtney, former president of Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech)

  • Rennie Sawade, Director pf Communication, WashTech
  • Eliza Pan, Amazon
  • Perry Meas, Organizer, Tech Worker Coalition (TWC)
  • Game Workers Unite (GWU)

 Organizing and Policy Partnerships 2: Community-Based Worker Organizing

With precarious employment and open shop on the rise, innovation in the labor movement is increasingly led by community organizations mobilizing networks of workers to respond to exploitation. How can state and local policy changes make it easier for workers make concrete gains through this kind of organizing? Can such policies and victories be enforced?  

   Moderator: David West, Researcher, Washington State Labor Education ans Research Center

  • Elena Perez, Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC)
  • Leonard Smith, Teamsters Local 117
  • Rachel Lauter, Executive Director, Working Washington/Fair Work Center

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3:00 - 4:30 p.m. Closing Plenary

The Future of Organizing 

In this session, panelists will describe innovative organizing strategies and campaigns based in communities, workplaces, and the political arena that can win concrete improvements for working women and men and raise up the voices of the working class in a call for a broad social justice agenda.   

Moderator: Adair Dammann, Director, WA Labor Education and Research Center


  • Michel Laslett, Strategic Campaign Director, SEIU 925
  • Peter Hasegawa, Organizing Director, Martin Luther King Labor Council
  • Abdirahman Muse, Executive Director of the Awood Center
  • TBA, Representive from UNITE HERE Local 8
Please contact us with your questions            

Amy Yi 206-934-5382 or Anita Scheer 206-934-6671

 Learning from the Past, Educating for the Future