EVERETT — Speaking in front of a crowd of labor unions Tuesday in Everett, gubernatorial hopeful Bob Ferguson said the current economic system is “rigged” against workers.
“Americans recognize a rigged system when they see it,” Ferguson said.
The state’s attorney general made the remarks in a keynote address at the annual Labor Champions Awards dinner hosted by the Snohomish and Island Counties Labor Council.
Ferguson is one of three Democratic candidates running for governor in 2024 after Gov. Jay Inslee announced he won’t seek a fourth term. Inslee endorsed Ferguson last month. Other Democrats in the race are State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and state Sen. Mark Mullet, of Issaquah.
Ferguson boasts endorsements from over two dozen labor organizations across the state.
In his speech, Ferguson said support for labor unions is at an all-time high. A Gallup poll in August said American approval for labor unions is at 67%.
Ferguson sees stagnant wages and economic instability as signs of workers being unfairly treated. As attorney general, he said he has fought unfair labor practices at large corporations.
Ferguson has addressed “no-poach” clauses for workers in large corporations, beginning in 2018. No-poach clauses are agreements between competing corporations where they agree not to hire, recruit or pursue one another’s employees.
His office argued the practice was illegal, violating anti-trust laws. What started as a statewide initiative resulted in 237 corporate franchise chains nationally ending their no-poach practices.
As a result, the Office of the Attorney General found corporations advertise higher wages for job seekers when not using no-poach practices. The office saw an average 3.3% salary increase listed in job postings among the corporations.
“I view this as a core part of my mission, to be involved in these issues and to work with each and every one of you,” Ferguson said.
Last month, President Joe Biden made history as the first sitting president to participate in a picket line. He joined the United Auto Workers in Michigan who are on strike against three major American automakers. The workers are requesting more job security and higher wages.
The labor council is a federation of 64 local unions representing 45,000 working families across Snohomish and Island counties.