Senator rebukes critics of unions

Vancouver senator gives poignant floor speech as she rebukes critics of unions and working families

Sen. Annette Cleveland of the 49th Dist. in Vancouver showed courage and conviction when on Saturday (Feb. 10) she took to the floor of the state Senate in Olympia to reject the divisive debate on legislation our opponents railed because it would help workers and the people they serve.

We shared some of the posts after the heated debate Thursday night. By Saturday morning, Sen. Cleveland, sponsor of one of the bills, did what few politicians ever do and called out some of her colleagues for the disrespect they’d shown.

In her floor speech, Cleveland told of her family history, including the searing memory of her dad being laid off, their possessions being re-possessed and their future uncertain. Until her dad got a good union job. When he died, she said, her union family showed up with white flowers to honor her dad. Her mom is able today to live with dignity because of her late husband’s pension.

“The disrespectful and unfair attacks on unions that I heard...are offensive,” Cleveland said. “They’re offensive to me. They’re offensive to hard-working Washingtonians in communities across our state.

“And the demonizing...of labor and unions is unacceptable.”

What Cleveland did next was truly gutsy. She made it clear she wasn’t trying to score debating points. She wanted unity.

“I do implore each of us to resist debate that is disrespectful, uncivil and divisive and that we work together to ensure that we are different from that other Washington,” Cleveland told her colleagues.