May Day Celebration Builds Solidarity Among Members

Over 200 WFSE members, community and family gathered in Olympia at WFSE headquarters on May 1 to celebrate May Day. 

May Day is also known as Workers’ Day—and the gathering was a true celebration of the workers who give their all to provide Washingtonians with critical public services.

Members came together outside to reconnect and enjoy music, sun, and food, including a taco truck sponsored by WFSE Local 443 and barbecued hot dogs and burgers. Kids got their faces painted and played hopscotch.

Members had the chance to learn more about union political action and to join PEOPLE, as well as fill out bargaining surveys to share their top priorities for the upcoming contract negotiations.

Member Action Team (MAT) toolkits were handed out to members interested in building power in their worksites. (Download your copy of the toolkit here.) Washington Retired Public Employees, WFSE Local 443, WFSE Local 872 and other community groups hosted booths at the event. 

Council President Mike Yestramski, Vice President Ashley Fueston, and Executive Director Leanne Kunze spoke to the crowd about the many important victories our union won during the 2022 legislative session—and about the fights on the horizon as we prepare for this year’s contract bargaining. 

Yestramski congratulated WFSE members on their advocacy during the legislative session. 

“The raises and lump sum payments we worked so hard to negotiate at the bargaining table were funded. That means an across-the-board raise for all state employees,” Yestramski said. 

Legislative Wins
We have a lot to celebrate!

  • Funding of the Child Welfare Work Study, bringing desperately-needed attention to address staffing issues at DCYF
  • Return of the Productivity Board, which offers state employees a share of returns from cost-saving ideas they submit
  • Passage of House Bill 1153, improving language access in schools for parents with limited English proficiency and creating job opportunities for public interpreters
  • Improved disability benefits for community corrections employees, direct care workers in institutions, and park rangers

Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) Secretary-Treasurer April Sims, a former WFSE member, addressed the gathering as well. 

“May Day has always been about the workers, even from its inception in 1904, to mark the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago,” Sims said. 

“May Day is a recognition that our solidarity is our strength,” she said.

WFSE Vice President Ashley Fueston spoke about the importance of member participation in the bargaining process.

“Every WFSE member has the potential to be a leader, to be an activist,” Fueston said. 

“This is work that really begins in each workplace, and spreads across our state and across our union,” she said. 

The crowd also gave a warm welcome to Billie, a worker from the Cooper Point Village Starbucks in Olympia. Billie and her coworkers recently won the first Starbucks union election in Thurston County.

“Just like the 250 other stores around the country, we decided we needed to organize a union at our store. We realized that joining our voices and standing together was really the only way Starbucks was going to listen to us,” she said.

“This is about putting an end to wealth inequality and lifting up the voices of the most marginalized in our communities.”

When we work together, we can create powerful positive change for our jobs, families and community.

Want to help build solidarity and power?

  • Ask your shop steward or council rep about getting involved in bargaining, and submit your contract proposals here
  • Learn more about starting a Member Action Team (MAT) to connect with coworkers and mobilize to solve issues together
  • Join PEOPLE, our voluntary political action fund