What is People-Powered Politics?

As a non-partisan group (we don't care whether a person is Republican or Democrat, Independent or non-partisan), UFCW 21 makes sure that working people have a greater say in politics. People-powered politics does the following:

  • Trains & empowers leaders to lobby their own legislators on issues like breaks, worker rights, health care, and many others.

  • Interviews and makes focused endorsements of candidates who stand up for working family issues, and makes endorsements of some state and local ballot measures.

  • Mails and calls members to educate them on candidate/policy proposals. UFCW 21 doesn't tell anyone how to vote, but believes it's important to let union members know where political candidates stand on issues that affect working families. And then works to make sure that the voice of working people is heard loud and clear by those elected officials in our communities and in the state capitol, and in Washington DC. (Last election, in addition to 40,000 phone calls to members and 125,000 pieces of mail, we had in person contact with members at our over 800 work sites across the state.

  • Registers members to vote. More voters means more power, UFCW 21 registers as many members sending 18 year-old members a registration form and always working to get more members registered. If you're not registered to vote yet, register now! Register online at the website of Washington's Secretary of State.

  • Recruits and trains people to run for office

Get involved in people-powered politics!

  • Contribute to the Active Ballot Club (ABC). At most workplaces, you can automatically donate a small amount from your paycheck ($1 - $4 each week) to the UFCW 21 ABC Fund. We use these funds to support elected officials who stand up for us.

  • Register to vote.

Legislative Agenda

The 2019 legislative session begins on January 14 in Olympia and our lawmakers will once again face important decisions that affect our workplaces. In order to make progress on our priority issues this year, our elected leaders need to hear from us, hear our stories, and hear why these issues matter to us.

As the legislative session continues we will keep you updated on how we plan to keep up the pressure in order to make progress on these issues.

Workers across Washington are standing up for safer working conditions, fair wages, healthier workplaces, and the right to organize. In contract bargains, at the ballot box, and in cities across the state, workers are winning. It is time that state law makers put the needs of Washington workers above corporate greed. We believe that when workers are respected for their labor with fair wages, benefits and working conditions, those workers and the people they serve are all better off. With action by the 2019 legislature, we can make progress to achieving this.

Tell your elected officials what you think:

  • To reach your state legislators in Olympia, call the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000. The operator will direct your call to your member of Congress.

  • To reach your member of Congress in Washington DC, call the Congressional Switchboard: 1-202-224-3121. The operator will direct your call to your member of Congress.


Ensure Uninterrupted Meal and Rest Breaks

Health care professionals are expected to always be prepared and on top of their game – patients’ lives depend on it. Working 10, 12 or even more hours in a row because hospital CEOs didn’t schedule well enough is not good for providers or our patients. Hospital workers need uninterrupted breaks to make sure patients receive quality care.

Close the Mandatory Overtime Loophole

It has become the norm for on-call health care professionals to fill in during staff shortages rather than emergency situations. Hospitals need to stop forcing mandatory on-call for non-emergency situations and restrict the use of pre-scheduled on-call. This protection must extend to all health care workers that provide direct patient care.

Protect Patients From Surprise Billing and Medical Debt

When you’re facing a health emergency it can be hard to navigate confusing health insurance networks. You just need help, not a fear of crushing medical debt. Due to lack of transparency in hospital billing practices, out-of-network care can result in an unexpected and costly bill long after you’ve paid your co-pay and received care. Our health care spending should go towards our health care, not to a debt collector or surprise bills.

Properly Fund Public Hospitals

In order to provide the patient care Washington needs, it is critical that our public hospitals are funded adequately. With the federal government’s recent multi-million dollar cuts to our rural public district hospitals it is crucial that we work with the legislature to ensure our hospitals have the resources they need to care for our communities.


Enact Secure Scheduling

People cannot make ends meet if they do not get enough hours. Workers cannot plan their lives if they have erratic shifts or do not get advance notice of their schedules. Scheduling is not just an economic issue, but also a community issue, an equity issue, and a health issue. Workers need stability, predictability, and flexibility in their schedules.

End Unjust Non-Compete Clauses

In an economy where employers are hiring an increasingly part-time work force and many workers must take a second job just to make ends meet, non-compete clauses as a condition of employment are causing an unreasonable strain on workers. These unfair restrictions should not be allowed in most employment situations.

Protect Workers From Sexual Harassment

Workers should not have to worry about being victims of sexual harassment while they are earning a living. Current sexual harassment laws do not do enough to protect the most vulnerable workers. We must pass protections that not only make it easier for victims to report abuse but hold employers accountable when no action is taken.

Enforce Workers’ Rights

Washington has created many laws to protect workers’ safety and workplace rights. However, these protections are only as strong as our ability to enforce them. Allowing workers an additional avenue to enforce their rights will help uphold our state’s values, protect workers and the public, and ensure businesses who are following the law aren’t facing unfair competition.

Implement Paid Family & Medical Leave

Whether it is welcoming a new child or caring for a family member with a serious illness, there are occasions when we all need more than just a few days off. Thanks to the hard work of UFCW 21 members and our allies we successfully passed the best Paid Family and Medical Leave program in the country. Now we must make sure that through every step of the implementation the voices of workers are heard.


Find Progressive Revenue Solutions

Washington has the most upside-down tax code in the country. Because of this and our state’s failed corporate tax giveaways, we will once again face a revenue shortfall. Legislators must restore our community safety net and balance the budget through progressive revenue solutions like a Capital Gains Tax on the wealthiest among us, not by doubling down on regressive taxation that hurts working families.

Tax Relief for Working Families

Federal tax cuts were a giveaway to large corporations at the expense of the rest of us. Washington state can help relieve the burden by passing the Working Families Tax Credit. The WFTC is a critical step to fixing Washington’s broken and regressive tax system by putting money in the pockets of working families.


Lower Housing Costs

People across the state are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living. Housing costs in particular have skyrocketed. We must put pressure on legislators to fund affordable housing programs and reduce barriers to building more affordable housing.

Make Childcare Affordable

Everyone should have access to quality, affordable childcare in their own community. When working families cannot afford childcare, they cannot afford to work. And when childcare workers can’t make a living, they can’t provide the safe, high-quality care that is so crucial. We need to find progressive solutions that lower childcare costs for working families, increase access and opportunities for kids, and treat childcare workers with the respect they deserve.

Protect At-Risk Communities

Over the past two years, there has been an alarming increase in anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, homophobic and racist rhetoric – coming from the highest levels of our government. These attacks on our most at-risk communities cannot stand. With the Keep Washington Working bill we can ensure our immigrant workforce can continue to live and work with dignity.


Increase Labor Standards for Cannabis Workers

The workers who make the cannabis industry possible cannot get left behind. Over the last three years cannabis sales in Washington have nearly tripled. It is essential that as this industry continues to grow, workers receive fair wages, good benefits and a healthy work-life balance. We must work to pass legislation that rewards cannabis companies who support their workers’ right to form a union and collectively bargain a fair contract.

Vacate Marijuana Misdemeanor Convictions

Now that Washington has legalized recreational cannabis use, we should stop holding a person’s past cannabis possession against them. While some people are getting rich off of legalization others are still being punished for what is no longer a crime. These convictions disproportionately and unjustly impact communities of color. It is time to vacate these convictions and no longer allow misdemeanor cannabis offenses to negatively impact a person’s life.