Retired refinery worker Steve Garey shares why he supports Washington State Ballot Inititiave 1631. Watch the video »

By Judy Twedt, Trustee UAW 4121 and Steering Committee Member, Yes on 1631

For over two years, unions across Washington State have been part of the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. It’s an historically broad coalition of labor, environmental, health, business, faith, and social justice advocates coming together to build a more equitable, clean energy economy.

As we’re witnessing the clear-cutting of common sense environmental policies at the Federal level, states initiatives like this one in Washington offer hope for a more sustainable future.

The coalition aims to put a price on carbon — something no other state have done yet. Our ballot initiative 1631 imposes a fee on the states largest polluters. It starts at $15/ton and rises by $2/year, raising an estimated $1 billion annually to invest in clean energy, forest health, manufacturing, and good paying jobs built to last. There are also funds set aside to help others transition through job training and wage assistance as well as dedicated protections for workers to ensure their jobs stay in Washington. In addition, 35% of investments must be targeted to low income neighborhoods and communities of color to ensure that everyone has access to a cleaner, healthier future.

Our coalition faces opposition from big oil companies like Phillips 66 and BP, and the Koch Brothers, amassing over $21 million. Those are record-breaking contributions intended to maintain their control of the energy economy, and 99% is out-of state.

UAW 4121, the union of over 4,500 academic student employees at the university of Washington, is one of the unions on the Yes on 1631 steering committee. We know that the impacts of unchecked climate change will disproportionately impact young people, and are leading campus-wide voter registration and GOTV efforts to drive up student participation in this midterm election.

To learn more about the initiative, and how to help turn out the vote for this historically inclusive climate initiative, visit If your union can host a labor-to-labor phone banking event to help get-out-the-vote, email [email protected].

About the Images
A 1631 campaign event hosted by UAW4121 and Green for All with guest speakers including CNN Commentator Van Jones, music artist Macklemore, and President of the Quinalt Nation Fawn Sharp.
Photos credits: Conor Courtney/The Daily (a UW students newspaper)