ROCin’ the 2019 Legislative Session!

The 2019 Session is coming, and we are in for a serious fight. If you haven’t heard by now, we’re undertaking a large campaign to get an infusion of state funds in to the CTC budget. The [Re]Invest in Our Colleges campaign, or ROC (get it), is our main focus this year. We are working to get $500 million in to the CTCs, because it’s past time that our state invests in our colleges, and our communities. We have become the forgotten piece of Washington’s public education system, a critical step for so many of our family, friends and neighbors in receiving the degrees, certificates and skills they need.

This is budget ask is our legislative agenda, and every other bill we write or work to pass, is meant to achieve this goal. This session is a budget year, and we won’t be the only ones asking for large amounts of funds, so we need all hands on deck.

That’s great, but what will that do for us, you ask? We’ve set up our bill so that this money goes primarily in to your pockets through salary increases and salary enhancements. What kind of salary enhancements? That’s up to you and your local to decide. Do you want a transportation fund? Child care reimbursement? Healthcare funds? Bargain for it. This bill is our McCleary, but we’re the only ones that can force the legislature to allocate the funds, and you and your negotiators are the ones that will decide how these funds are disbursed on your campus.

The rest of the additional funding has been set up to increase the number of counselors in the system. Some colleges have plenty of counselors, others have none. This bill will make sure that all campuses have counselors. The funding will also go toward professional development for all staff and faculty, and set up an office or program of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion so we can better serve the majority of our students.

We’ve never undertaken such a large campaign, and with a large campaign there are large hurdles. Everyone and their aunt will be asking for money, and the truth of the matter is, there isn’t enough as things stand to fund everything. We are not in the business of robbing Peter to pay Paul. This is why we’ll also be advocating for fixing our regressive tax system. Did you know that we, Washington state, have the most regressive taxation system in the entire country[1]? Because, we do. The poorest 5th of us, those earning less than $24,000 a year, pay 17.8% of their income to taxes, while the wealthiest, those making $546,000 or more, only pay 3% of their income to tax[2]. Our budgets are our values, and for such a progressive state, we seem to be lacking.

What’s this got to do with us? It means we’re leaving money on the table. Money that we can use to bolster our grossly underfunded system. Money that the wealthiest want to keep. Part of our agenda this session will be to support the Washington Budget and Policy Center’s legislative agenda, working with a coalition of unions and community groups to fix our tax system. This means a capital gains tax and eliminating pointless tax breaks, so that community services won’t be interrupted, and we can do what we love, for the communities we serve.

So, what can you do? So. Many. Things. Take your pick.

  1. Connect with your local’s executive board
    1. Talk with your board and see what work has been done, and what work needs to be done. Maybe even convince them to take a more active role in the campaign.
  2. The petition
    1. Have you seen the petition floating around, asking the Governor and State Legislature to recognize the value of CTCs and properly fund it? Have you signed it? If you haven’t you should do that, and soon! Once you’ve signed it, take a stack. Get your department to sign it, your students. Once everyone on campus has signed it, take it to your PTA meetings, Sunday service, your Magic: The Gathering! draft. Because this is not only for us, it’s for everyone.
  3. Legislators
    1. Meet with your legislators and tell them what this funding will mean to you and your college. Especially your freshman legislators, because they need to be educated on the issues at CTCs more than anyone. Nothing is as compelling as a good story, and our members have the best ones. Give us a call, more specifically, call me, Sandra Toussaint, your Political Organizer. I’ll help you get it set up. You can also head down to Olympia and lobby during session. We’ll need to inundate our legislators for them to get the message. We have strong allies, but we must give them a hand.
  4. Become your local’s ROC point of contact
    1. To keep the work going and escalating, we need members on campus keeping an eye on the work. You can become the person pushing it on your campus. We recommend you form a team to keep it flowing while not eating up all of your time.
  5. Connect with groups on campus
    1. This campaign needs the support of the community, and none more than those on the campus every day. Meet with student groups, other unions on campus, and community groups that work on the campuses. Let’s bring them in to the fold
  6. Write an Op-Ed
    1. Do you have a campus newspaper? A small community paper? Know someone at the Seattle Times? Get published and spread the word. The more people in the community that understand the state of funding at CTCs, the more pressure we can apply to legislatures to fix the problem.
  7. Check in with your AFT Washington Organizing Rep
    1. The same person helping you to organize your campus and get through negotiations, can help you ROC your campus. If you need some ideas or help pushing this, let your Organizing Rep know. We’re here to help, so use us!

We’ve done a lot of the prep work, but now it’s game time. Let’s ROC our campuses and ROC the legislature!

Have questions about the campaign? Call or email Sandra at 206-427-8107 and stoussaint@aftwa.org.


[1] https://budgetandpolicy.org/schmudget/unacceptable.-washington-still-has-the-nation2019s-most-inequitable-state-tax-code

[2] https://budgetandpolicy.org/schmudget/unacceptable.-washington-still-has-the-nation2019s-most-inequitable-state-tax-code

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