Back in 2019, an affinity group of young PROTEC17 members formed in King County to tackle the issue of engaging and educating younger members, and bringing awareness to the many ways to participate in our union. That group called themselves the ‘Young Members of PROTEC17’ or YMP for short.
The YMP served as a bridge, connecting the experiences of King County’s younger demographic to the Labor landscape. With the workforce undergoing demographic changes, and with union leadership positions largely held by more tenured members, this group provided a space for young members to share insights, discuss challenges, and collectively shape the future of the King County Chapter of PROTEC17.
One of the primary goals of the YMP is to amplify the voices of young union members in advocating for their needs and unique issues, such as addressing the growing number of term-limited temporary (TLT) employment and the challenges of being in that role, as well as promoting diversity within union Stewardship at the County.
Beyond advocacy, the YMP members also got trained as Stewards and participated in contract negotiations as part of the bargaining team. This influx of new leaders helped bridge the gap between tenured union members and those who are just starting their careers. As colleagues saw their peers represented in these union leadership roles, it created a solid support system for young workers as they navigate the complexities of the County.
“For most young members at King County, their current job may be their first ever job and it is often their first time being in a union,” said Kelsey Hopkins, an Engineer II and YMP member at King County.
“A group specific to young members allows them to learn and engage without being expected to be an expert or have all of the answers with folks who all have the same level of experience. It is also important because it helps younger members gain tools and confidence that can help them get involved further.”
Perhaps the most signiﬁcant impact of the YMP is the sense of community and camaraderie that it has cultivated among young union members. Through regular meetings, events, and a virtual online ballot party, the group has become a hub for support and friendship. This sense of community has not only strengthened the bond among young members but also has contributed to the overall unity of the King County Chapter.
After a short hiatus during the pandemic, the core members of the YMP – including Jessie Hardy, Hopkins, Christina Olivares, and Lucas Smith (pictured above and on the cover) – recently came together to strategize about how to revitalize the group and what a new iteration of the YMP would look like, especially in a contract negotiations year.
They will be convening a meeting in the new year to introduce themselves and to educate members who have been hired in the last year about PROTEC17. Check our events page at protec17.org/events to find the date and time, or contact King County Union Representative Alex Il for more information at or 206-328-7321 ext. 118.