Jolt: Chopp, Miloscia Snubbed by Labor Council Over Pension Vote, Social Issues Respectively

By Afternoon Jolt May 7, 2012

Labor jolted Democratic leadership this weekend.

Several liberal Democrats did not get endorsements from the Washington State Labor Council this weekend, including Democratic Speaker of the House Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43), Democratic majority leader Pat Sullivan (D-47, Covington), and Chopp's Seattle district seatmate, Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43).

The snub comes despite strong lifetime labor voting records from most of these Democrats---89 and 83 percent, respectively, for Chopp and Sullivan, for example. And most of these Democrats' records would be okay in isolation this year too—and, in fact, are surely good enough for a labor endorsement. Marcie Maxwell(D-41, Bellevue), for example, voted with labor 11 out of 12 times.

But all these legislators, nearly 20 Democrats on the house side, voted for Republican state Sen. Joe Zarelli's (R-18, Ridgefield) budget-deal bill to penalize state workers for taking early retirement. That vote received extra weight in this year's labor scorecard. For example, even though Maxwell voted with labor 11 out of 12 times—literally 92 percent—she only got 75 percent.

"It was a gratuitous attack," says WSLC spokesman David Groves. "It was not fiscal, it was political. One billion dollars over 25 years [the amount the cut was slated to save]? At that level that's less than [one tenth of] one percent of spending. How is that a fiscal vote."

Meanwhile, one house Democrat with an impeccable labor voting record, Rep. Mark Miloscia (D-30, Federal Way), whose lifetime labor voting record is 91 percent—and 93 percent this past session, including voting labor's way on the pension bill—also got the cold shoulder from the labor council this weekend. (Miloscia is running for State Auditor.)

Why? Because, he says, labor thinks he voted the wrong way on gay marriage. Miloscia is a social conservative who also has a long anti-choice record.

"Anybody else would have smashed Pridemore and gotten the endorsement," Miloscia says about his Democratic rival for state auditor, state Sen. Craig Pridemore (D-49, Vancouver). Pridemore actually voted against the pension bill and got 100 percent score from labor this year, but his lifetime score is lower than Miloscia, and  he cast two major votes against labor last year, scaling back workers' comp and unemployment insurance. "He got 31 percent last year," Miloscia grouses. "He stabbed labor in the back."

"This was solely about social issues ... judging our labor records on social issues," Miloscia complains. "It's funny that [some of] labor is using the same tactics now as Republicans do, using social issues to get people to vote against their own economic interests. They're dividing labor from its core mission to focus on living wage jobs." Miloscia namechecked the UFCW, the machinists, and AFSCME, qualifying that all labor wasn't using social issues as "a litmus test."

Clever comparison to GOP, but quickly, a little context: Labor is pushing for extending civil rights, not limiting them as the GOP wants to on gay marriage. And extending marriage rights makes economic sense for gays and lesbians.

Pridemore, who scored an upset win over Denny Heck in 2010 for the WSLC endorsement, didn't get it this year either, thanks to his 2011 anti-labor votes.

Democratic Rep. Troy Kelley (D-28) is also in the race for auditor. He failed to get the labor nod because he voted for scaling back the pension system. He also has a tepid lifetime labor voting record of 61 percent.
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