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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Inslee urges construction industry labor organizations to support COVID-19 vaccinations

Gov. Jay Inslee talks to those attending the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council Convention on Wednesday at The Davenport hotel in downtown Spokane.  (COLIN TIERNAN/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Leaders of construction industry labor organizations can save lives by encouraging their members to get COVID-19 vaccinations, Gov. Jay Inslee said Wednesday at the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council Convention.

“I just want to ask you to join me and try to help your members, your family members and your relatives to at least think hard about getting this vaccine,” Inslee said to attendees at The Davenport hotel. “I don’t want you to lose a single one of your members, and it just hits me right in my heart when we lose people to a preventable disease.”

The Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council is a coalition of more than 60 construction-related labor organizations. The organization also performs research and member outreach for its affiliated locals.

Inslee told the group his decision to implement a statewide vaccine requirement for state employees, health care workers, those in education and other groups, was not easy but necessary to save thousands of lives and allow schools to remain open.

Under the mandate, workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18.

Regarding the infrastructure debate in Washington, D.C., Inslee said persistence is key when advocating for the federal spending that could fund several projects across the state, adding he was frustrated by the lack of progress on the bill Wednesday.

“There’s big needs in our state … everyone should go and do everything they can to get legislators to have serious discussions to really get this ball going,” he said. “I would have hoped we would have had more progress today from some of our legislators. As my frustration builds, I will continue to try to inspire them to come up with some consensus.”

New clean energy projects are a boon for employment in the state, including Vicinity Motor Corp.’s project to build an electric bus assembly facility in Ferndale and Arlington-based startup Eviation’s plans to create Alice, the world’s first all-electric commuter aircraft, Inslee said.

Inslee touted the Career Connect Washington Program, which was created in 2017 to connect youths with learning opportunities that prepare them for high-demand, high-wage jobs.

“We want to spread that genius of apprenticeships and getting everybody a career, even those who decided not to go to college,” Inslee said. “We want to spread that beyond the building trades.

“The building trades have been fantastic on this, your leadership has been incredible. We want to follow your leadership in health care, in banking, in insurance … and so right now we have a Career Connect Washington Program to try and do that.”