(Extensions of Remarks - January 06, 2011)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E20]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                           HON. JIM McDERMOTT

                             of washington

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, January 6, 2011

  Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the powerful 
contributions made by Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) President 
Rick S. Bender and Secretary-Treasurer Alan O. Link to policies that 
benefit working families. Throughout their lengthy and distinguished 
service, they have done much to advance the cause of organized labor in 
Washington State and, thereby, to improve significantly the lives of 
our residents. Thanks to steadfast support of its labor movement by 
Rick Bender and Al Link, Washington State today is the fourth most 
unionized state in the nation, with the state's 574,000 union members 
accounting for 20.2% of its overall workforce.
  Rick Bender became President of the Washington State Labor Council in 
1993, after serving as WSLC Vice President (1988-1993); Executive 
Secretary of the King County Labor Council (1991-1993); and Executive 
Secretary of the Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council 
(1987-1991). He is a member of Laborers Local 242 and Elevator 
Constructors Local 19, and he began his career with organized labor as 
an apprentice with Cement Masons Local 528 in 1966. In addition to his 
exceptional service to organized labor, Rick also served the citizens 
of the State of Washington for many years as an elected member of the 
State Legislature; I was fortunate to serve with Rick in the Washington 
State Senate, where he was much respected for his expertise, his hard 
work, and his commitment to fairness.
  Al Link also is a giant in the Washington State labor community. He 
served in numerous leadership positions in that community prior to his 
1994 election as WSLC Secretary-Treasurer, including President of the 
Spokane County Central Labor Council (1989-94) and President of 
Steelworkers Local 329 (1991-94), when he represented workers at the 
Kaiser Aluminum plant in Spokane. Al has been a member of the United 
Steelworkers of America since 1961.
  Together, Rick Bender and Al Link provided bold leadership to the 
Washington State Labor Council as it achieved many proud 
accomplishments: they crafted a far-sighted and effective legislative 
platform to promote pro-working family laws and policies in Washington 
state government; these included passage of long-sought collective 
bargaining rights for state employees, protection and strengthening of 
Washington's model unemployment insurance and workers' compensation 
systems, promotion of innovative apprenticeship programs, and 
development of affordable health care and family leave policies.
  Intent on highlighting labor's importance to our democratic political 
process, Mr. Bender and Mr. Link created a groundbreaking grassroots 
political program featuring the ``Labor Neighbor'' program, a highly 
successful effort that became a national model for engaging union 
activists and volunteers in the election process and informing rank-
and-file members of labor's endorsements.
  They also led successful campaigns for pro-worker ballot measures, 
including the nation's first indexed minimum wage law, which began as 
an initiative filed by Rick Bender; it was approved by the voters of 
Washington State in 1998 following an exciting campaign co-chaired by 
Rick and especially memorable because it relied entirely on volunteer 
signature gatherers.
  Mr. Speaker, the formidable team of Rick Bender and Al Link leaves a 
vital legacy that will strengthen the lives of working people and their 
families for decades to come. On the occasion of their retirement from 
the Washington State Labor Council, I join thousands of union members, 
working families, and appreciative citizens across Washington State in 
thanking them for their vision, their bold leadership, and their 
dedicated service. We wish them good fortune and much satisfaction in 
the coming years.