Labor Organizations Across Washington Oppose I-1631

Growing list of labor unions urging a NO vote on unfair carbon tax

SEATTLE – A growing list of labor organizations in every corner of the state agree: Washington’s working families would bear the heaviest financial burdens under Initiative 1631, the unfair energy tax.

That’s why labor groups representing nearly 100,000 craft workers and union supporters have joined the NO on 1631 Coalition, in an effort to spread the word to other workers and their families, urging a NO vote on their November ballots.

“Initiative 1631 would mean our workers and their families would pay hundreds more in new taxes each year, particularly for those who have to drive one to two hours to their jobs each day,” said Monty Anderson, executive secretary for the Seattle Building Trades. “This is an unfair, poorly written initiative that would result in higher transportation costs, forcing families to pay more for energy, goods and services.”

A state analysis shows that 1631 would increase energy taxes by more than $2.3 billion in the first five years alone. Estimates show that I-1631 would increase gasoline prices for Washington consumers by up to 14 cents per gallon in the first year, with automatic increases every year. These increases would quadruple to 57 cents more per gallon within 15 years, with no limit on how high they could go.

“Climate change is a serious issue that merits a serious solution. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good solution. I-1631 really hits our members hard. Our folks spend a lot of time in their trucks driving to job sites, especially those in rural parts of the state,” said Mike Bridges, president of the Longview/Kelso Building Trades. “What’s even more frustrating is that these added costs don’t come with any guarantees that there would be any significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. There’s no real accountability in I-1631 for how the money would be spent. That makes these increased costs that much harder to take. And there’s no cap on the taxes imposed by I-1631, either. It would go on indefinitely.”

In addition, I-1631 would add hundreds of millions of dollars to ratepayers’ energy bills for higher costs for utilities. It’s estimated that I-1631 would cost the average Washington household $440 more per year — in the first year alone — in increased costs for gasoline, electricity and goods and services. And I-1631’s taxes would continue to automatically increase every year — indefinitely, with no set cap.

I-1631 would create an unelected board of political appointees, with no real accountability to voters, or even the Legislature. The board would have broad authority to spend billions in taxpayer dollars, with no responsibility for outcomes, no specific plan, and no requirements that the money be spent specifically to reduce greenhouse gases.

“We’re basically handing over a big book of blank checks, and that’s not OK. Our people work too hard not to get something in return for their money,” added Billy Wallace, Jr., political and legislative director for the Washington & Northern Idaho District Council of Laborers. “This would cost our members every time they get in their trucks to go to work. It’s an unfair, regressive tax and it deserves a NO vote.”

Unions across the state, from Seattle to Longview to Spokane are urging their members and others to vote NO on 1631 this fall. The growing list of unions in the NO on 1631 Coalition includes:

  • ANEW
  • Boilermakers Local 502
  • Cement Masons & Plasterers Local 528
  • IBEW Local 48
  • International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302
  • Iron Workers District Council of the Pacific Northwest
  • Ironworkers Local 29
  • Ironworkers Local 86
  • Longview/Kelso Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Northwest Carpenters District Council
  • Pierce County Building Trades
  • Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council
  • Teamsters Local 174
  • United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 26
  • United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 32
  • Washington & Northern Idaho District Council of Laborers
  • Washington Building Trades Council

The NO on 1631 Coalition represents more than 160,000 families, small businesses, family farmers, labor unions, trade associations and consumers from all across Washington state.