Unions Warn of Potential Effect on Jobs from WA Timber, Schools Proposal
Friday, July 22, 2022
Washington state's top education official is proposing a change to how timber revenue is used for schools. Unions are urging caution so the policy doesn't result in unintended consequences for workers.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal has proposed no longer using money from timber sales on state-owned lands for urban-area school construction.
Policymakers shouldn't yet assume today is anything like the "timber wars" of the 1990s, which pitted urban versus rural areas, said Sara Palmer, vice chair of the natural resources policy committee for the Washington Federation of State Employees, which represents staff in the Department of Natural Resources.
"Today it's a little more complicated, there's a little more nuance to it," she said, "and our members really feel that what we are doing at this time is sound, scientifically based land management. And we want that to continue to be a priority in the state of Washington for state trust lands."
Reykdal has proposed that the money from timber sales go to rural schools, as it has in the past, as well as sustaining healthy forests. He said it's harder and more expensive for rural communities to pass bonds for school construction than it is for urban communities.
Palmer said prioritizing funding for rural schools is a positive development, but her union is waiting to hear more details on the proposal. She said there are concerns about how it could affect workers in her union, as well as a sister union - the Washington Public Employees Association - and mill and forest workers.
"We really feel it is possible to balance economic needs and environmental needs and to find a middle path," she said. "We're really proud of the work that we do on that, and we're really proud of the work the department has done on that over the years."
Reykdal is rolling out this and other policy recommendations so legislators can consider them next session.
get more stories like this via email
The work of some nonprofit organizations has only increased with the pandemic and the needs that have come from it. An author and expert in the field …
By Lourdes Medrano for Yes! Media. Broadcast version by Mark Richardson for Arizona News Connection, reporting for the YES! Media-Public News Service …
Hispanic Heritage Month began in mid-September and runs through Oct. 15, and a financial institution in Washington state is finding unique ways to …
Conservation groups say more needs to be done to protect the natural and cultural resources of Utah's Labyrinth Canyon from off-road vehicles…
Despite being aimed at children in kindergarten through third grade, Florida teachers say what's often referred to as the "Don't Say Gay" law has …
Consumer groups are pressing for legislation to reform the way credit agencies handle errors on credit reports. The calls to amend the Fair Credit …
A relatively small number of so-called "super emitters" are responsible for 40% of the methane emissions in oil and gas hotspots such as California's …
As "Banned Books Week" comes to a close, Connecticut libraries have been celebrating with great fervor - despite numerous book bans and challenges…