Fair Work News, Fall 2017 Edition

Greetings and welcome to the Fall edition of the Fair Work News!

Nicole Vallestero Keenan

When Fair Work Center opened its doors in April 2015, we had an ambitious vision: a future where every worker in Seattle knows their rights and has the tools to exercise them.

With your support, we are making incredible progress towards realizing our ambitious early vision. So it is with tremendous pride to announce that, after three years as executive director, I am moving on to new challenges with the goal of building a better future with policy advocacy.

Over the past 30 months, we grew from a staff of three people to 11 people, and we have launched several exciting initiatives. Some of my personal highlights include:

  • The Fair Work Collaborative is a partnership of 11 community based organizations convened by Fair Work Center to train workers, advocates, case managers and non-profits about their rights at work. Together, we’ve talked to more than 20,000 people about their rights at work since we started in October 2015.
  • In 2016, we expanded our Know Your Rights outreach and education model to include health and safety trainings. Through a partnership with the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, we developed a curriculum and piloted a training program with more than 120 people trained.
  • In September 2016, we officially launched the Fair Work Legal Clinic. In addition to becoming a fully functioning law firm within Fair Work Center, we are also training the next generation of employment attorneys. Students from the Seattle University and the University of Washington Schools of Law can now enroll in a Workers’ Rights Clinical Course that combines a rigorous academic curriculum with an active practice in employment law in our legal clinic. Since opening, the legal clinic recovered more than $400,000 for workers and provided legal information and referral services to more than 500 workers.
  • Over these past three years, we have also played an active role in advocating for the enforcement of labor standards at the state and local levels. We’ve influenced numerous pro-worker policies, including: the 2015 labor standards enforcement bill, which gave Seattle some of the strongest local enforcement mechanisms in the nation; the secure scheduling ordinance; and the new statewide paid sick and safe leave law – Initiative 1433. And just this summer we advocated to help prevent the City of Tacoma from closing its labor standards enforcement office by cutting its budget.
  • Fair Work Center also partnered with the Center for Innovation in Worker Organizations to inform and support the City of Seattle in taking on directed investigations – meaning the agency can investigate and file charges without an initiating complaint – which is critical for enforcement of standard in industries with high rates of workplace violations and low rates of reporting. Just last week, the Office of Labor Standards announced their ground breaking directed investigation program.

I recently reviewed the initial three-year strategic plan laid out for this organization, and I’m proud to say that we met every goal laid out in that plan. I was recruited to this position to help create a new and innovative labor standards enforcement organization. We have done that. All of this work has been artfully executed by a visionary and talented team of people, and it is time for the next phase of this organization to continue under new leadership. My last day at Fair Work Center will be on November 22nd. However, I will continue to support our visionary board of directors and the organization’s new leadership through the end of the year.

As a gesture of my enduring commitment to the success of Fair Work Center, I am signing up to be a monthly donor. I hope you will join me in matching my gift at $20 a month – please consider donating today!

Thank you for your support of Fair Work Center.

In Solidarity,


FAIR WORK NEWS CONTENTS: