Since mid-2019, a core group of members at King County have been working to get their fellow young colleagues more engaged in their union. They call themselves the Young Members of PROTEC17, or YMP for short.
In the year they’ve been in existence, the YMP has grown and mobilized members in new and creative ways, including their most recent virtual ballot party held on Oct. 27 – a week before election day. The goal of the ballot party was to make sure that young voices are heard in the political sphere that shapes public policy and directly impacts young working people’s lives.
When asked about the ballot party, Lucas Smith, one of the YMP leaders, said: “We wanted to provide a space to discuss our values as union members and how those align (or don’t) with the various candidates and measures.”
While it was a small event, and many members had already cast their ballot by mail, the group had fun getting to know each other better outside of work.
After the massive nationwide protests against police brutality and systematic racism this year, the YMP group pushed to formalize and identify ways in which members could bring the fight for a socially just society into King County’s workplace and PROTEC17 itself.
“YMP members know that the struggle for dignity at work and the fight against racism are inextricably linked,” said Kelsey Hopkins, another YMP leader. “Activities like the ballot party help us discuss and further this idea every day.”
In 2021, the YMP is planning to take part in more actions within PROTEC17 and the community, and wants to become a hub for young union members who want to build power in their workplaces and beyond.
“As the next generation of workers and union members, I look forward to more young members taking leadership roles in our union and driving a reinvigorated labor movement,” said Smith who is also running for King County Chapter President alongside Hopkins who was nominated for Vice President, and several other YMP members who are stepping up for Regional Executive Committee (REC) positions.
“As we watch strike waves and the labor movement re-sparking nationwide – while at the same time workers’ rights face more attacks than ever – we can see both the necessity and the hope for a bright future of organized labor, and young leaders will be key to that.”
The YMP is currently made up of King County Chapter members under age 40, who meet virtually every Thursday at lunchtime. In the new year, they hope to collaborate on union-wide issues with other young member and social justice interest groups forming within the Seattle and Portland Chapters. The YMP is also willing to lend their expertise to other Chapters who are interested in building a young members group in their workplace. To get connected, email Union Representative Alex Il at