Labor and Business Coalition Announces Expansion

Shared interests drive mission to address three major policy issues impacting middle-class job growth and state’s manufacturing- and trade-based economy.

SEATTLE – Keep Washington Competitive, a diverse group of community leaders from business, labor, agriculture and other trade-related entities, announced a major expansion this week, following the addition of new members concerned about escalating regulatory threats to our state’s economy.

Founded earlier this year to raise awareness of the impacts of a recent expansion to the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), Keep Washington Competitive released new position statements today addressing additional issues threatening the future of Washington’s middle-class workers, harming the state’s economic recovery, and limiting Washington’s ability to compete as a global trade leader.

“Some Washington State communities are enjoying a great deal of prosperity thanks, in part, to our strong technology sector. But times have been more challenging for the builders, makers, shippers, haulers, and manufacturers of our state,” said David Myers, Executive Secretary, Washington State Building and Construction Trades, AFL-CIO. “Washington’s middle class relies on the higher-paying, family-wage jobs associated with our aerospace cluster, maritime cluster, manufacturing sector, and trade-dependent industries. To remain competitive in a globalized economy, Washington State must continue to attract investment dollars for long-term projects, upgrade and expand its trade-related infrastructure, and protect existing core blue-collar industries that sustain the middle class workforce.”

Kris Johnson, president of Association of Washington Business, noted, “When Keep Washington Competitive launched last February, we wanted to underscore the economic implications an expanded SEPA process would have on job creators and workers statewide. These new regulatory proposals further heighten our concerns about Washington’s trade status and overall competitiveness. We need to protect existing jobs and encourage job creation all over Washington state.”

“Our members have made significant contributions in an effort to keep jobs here in this state. It becomes more and more difficult to do that if Washington State’s trade and manufacturing communities are dealing with regulatory uncertainty. From proposed changes in water quality standards to the new hurdles SEPA places on trade-related investments, we must ensure we’re not headed down the wrong path for attracting future manufacturing investments necessary to create the types of blue collar, family- wage jobs we value and hope to secure for future generations.” Larry Brown- Legislative Director, IAM 751.

Eric Schinfeld of the Washington Council on International Trade summarized: “With 40% of all jobs tied to trade, Washington is competing successfully with the rest of the world to be a great place from which to engage in the global economy. But when an unpredictable business climate and regulatory environment impose unreasonable or unattainable constraints, it hurts our ability to continue to invest in sufficient and modernized infrastructure and we’ll fall behind our international competition. Keep Washington Competitive aims to ensure statewide focus on these issues.”

The expansion includes the addition of several new members and the establishment of an Advisory Board composed of:

  • Vince O’Halloran, Sailors’ Union of the Pacific
  • Gordon Baxter, Labor leader
  • Larry Brown, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, Local 751
  • Kris Johnson, Association of Washington Business
  • Eric Schinfeld, Washington Council on International Trade
  • John Stuhlmiller, Washington Farm Bureau

About Keep Washington Competitive: Keep Washington Competitive is a coalition of business, labor, agriculture, and trade organizations and leaders united to promote bi-lateral trade growth in Washington State, by encouraging investment in our state trade industries.