OLYMPIA – Just days before National Labor Rights Week, leaders from the Employment Security Department (ESD) and the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle signed an agreement today formalizing their partnership to help Mexican nationals understand their rights to employment and unemployment services in Washington.
Washington state is home to nearly a million Hispanics of various nationalities. The Consulate of Mexico in Seattle provides services to approximately 850,000 Mexican and Mexican-American people that live in the States of Washington, Idaho and Alaska. ESD provides unemployment insurance benefits to about 6,000 claimants each year who select Spanish as their language preference.
ESD also is a partner in the statewide WorkSource system, which delivers employment services to thousands of Hispanic customers throughout the state. Washington is in the top five states nationally in the number of migrant seasonal farmworkers of all nationalities served—with nine offices where 10 percent or more of the annual participants in employment services are migrant seasonal farmworkers (MSFW).
ESD’s MSFW and Spanish outreach staff work across the state to help workers access employment services and assist them in acquiring new job skills and unemployment benefits, including participating in the Consulate on Wheels events throughout the year.
Federal law requires that ESD maintain a complaint system for both migrant and non-migrant workers. The new agreement of cooperation directs the consulate to refer all labor-related concerns to ESD’s formal complaint process for review, resolution or referral to the appropriate agency.
“We’re excited to partner with the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle to ensure more Mexicans and Mexican-Americans are aware of and benefiting from Washington’s workforce programs,” said Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “Our organizations will be strengthened by working together.”
“In the framework of the Labor Rights Week, the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle is glad to join forces with ESD through an agreement of cooperation that has the goal of improving the working conditions of Mexican and Mexican-American workers in Washington state,” said Dr. Roberto Dondisch, Consul of Mexico in Seattle.
An implementation team comprised of representatives from both organizations will be established to develop an action plan and to identify roles and responsibilities for working together. Once implemented, the team will meet twice yearly to evaluate the effectiveness of the partnership and develop ideas for improvement.
The organizations also will coordinate outreach activities at conferences, community meetings and other events.