AFT Washington

AFT Washington

Government Relations Specialist

Based in Renton, WA


POSITION: Government Relations Specialist. AFT Washington is excited to offer the opportunity to engage with legislators, our membership, and community allies around developing and moving our legislative agenda. This position is responsible for driving our legislative agenda on behalf of AFT Washington’s membership.

Date Posted: June 14, 2021

Résumés accepted until: Position is filled.

Salary: $63,036 to $79,852 – DOE and in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement

Our Vision: AFT Washington seeks a just society with access for all to unions, education, health care, and social programs that provide equal opportunity. To that end, we will encourage and provide resources for potential members to become members, members to become activists, and activists to become leaders, growing the union, its scope, and its depth, so that our members see the power of the union, are drawn to it, and realize that the power comes from them, their commitment and involvement.

Our Values:
AFT Washington values transformational unionism that includes:

  • Strength through solidarity
  • Unity among a diverse membership
  • Action toward our goals
  • Democracy in our locals
  • Excellent working conditions and fairness for members
  • Quality programs for students

The Opportunity: This position offers the opportunity to work independently and in small teams to fulfill our vision by living our values in the work we do with our members, elected leaders, and labor and community allies. As part of a mission driven organization, you would have the opportunity to express our values on a day-to-day basis and contribute to the well-being of our members, students, working people, and communities.

The Position: This job announcement is framed around the responsibilities required of the position at various points in the first year of employment. Included are the knowledge base needed to be hired as well as learning what is expected to occur by certain points in time.

Skills Expected Upon Start

  • Proficient in developing a legislative agenda, including drafting legislation in collaboration with member leaders and community allies.
  • Proficient at developing and planning a legislative campaign strategy.
  • Proficient at advocating for legislative priorities both during and outside of the Washington State legislative session.
  • Familiar with applying an equity lens in the performance of job duties and analysis of policy.
  • Professional oral and written communication skills.
  • Proficient with member engagement strategies.
  • Proficient with MS Office tools, especially Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
  • Preference for working largely independently and in small teams.

Position-Relevant Knowledge Expected Upon Start

  • Familiarity with state and federal education agencies e.g., The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, The Washington Student Achievement Council, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, School Employees Benefits Board, and the Health Care Authority.
  • Familiarity with the Washington State legislative structure, leadership, and schedule.
  • Working analysis of systemic oppression and strategies for promoting equality and dismantling systemic oppression.
  • Labor movement principles and goals.
  • Roles of relevant governmental entities, e.g., Public Disclosure Commission, Federal Elections Commission, etc.

Responsibilities to be Added During Month One

  • Meet with Organizing Team to develop an understanding of constituency issues.
  • Hold a meeting with the Legislative Affairs Committee with support of the president.
  • Meet with AFT Washington staff individually.
  • Review membership list by legislative and congressional district to understand opportunities for influencing legislators.
  • Meet with key government relations specialists in other organizations such as WSLC, WEA, WFSE, Equity in Education, Budget and Policy Center, WSNA, etc.
  • Become familiar with AFT Washington’s priority coalitions and community partners and begin outreach to them.
  • Attend council, committee, and executive board meetings.
  • Begin to integrate an equity lens in fulfillment of duties.

Knowledge to Gain by the end of Month One

  • Understand the relationship of the Government Relations Specialist, the State Affiliate Political Organizer (SAPO), and the Union Organizing Representatives (UORs).
  • Understand who AFT Washington represents and the general concerns of each constituency.
  • Understand legal parameters and reporting requirements of legislative work as related to lobbying, elections, member use of public resources for political purposes, etc.
  • Meet with Communications Specialist to understand current legislative communication practices.

Responsibilities to be Added During Month Three

  • Meet with government relations staff at 3-5 ally unions/organizations and attend United Labor Lobby meetings when scheduled.
  • Participate in [Re]Invest in our Colleges committee and the Communities for Our Colleges Coalition meetings regularly.
  • Contribute material for an electronic or physical publication for our members and/or leaders.
  • Develop a timeline for our legislative agenda process with support from the president and begin to implement it.
  • Provide monthly reports to the executive board and councils with clarity on goals of the report, for example taking action, soliciting input, etc.
  • Participate in planning and implementation of Advocacy Team events.
  • Represent AFT Washington at state agency meetings impacting education, e.g., State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Washington Student Achievement Council, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Board of Education, etc.
  • Apply an equity lens to materials produced, outreach efforts, issue analysis and policy development.

Knowledge to Gain by the end of Month Three

  • Knowledge of communications vehicles used by AFT Washington and AFT.
  • Knowledge to effectively utilize Hustle and Action Network.
  • Proficient with use of LAN/VAN.

Responsibilities to be Added During Month Six

  • Hold monthly or more frequent meetings of the Legislative Affairs Committee and fulfill staff support role for the committee.
  • Assist in mobilization of members for legislative and political activities.
  • Contribute to legislative and political communications strategy.
  • Identify and research professional issues of members and provide recommendations for approaches to address them, e.g., lobbying, policy, bargaining, etc.
  • Develop Legislative Score Card.
  • Contribute to development of and participate in endorsement process.
  • Fulfill other duties as assigned.

Knowledge to Gain by the end of Month Six

  • Strategic communications.
  • Knowledge of legislator champions and allies.
  • Knowledge of priority legislative committees for tracking.
  • Knowledge of ally organizations and points of contact within the organization.
  • Deepened knowledge of equity analysis as related to fulfillment of duties.

Responsibilities to be Added During Year One

  • Lead the process for developing our legislative agenda including research and equity impact analysis.
  • Develop and implement strategies to fulfill our legislative agenda in coordination with the Advocacy Team.
  • Identify, recruit, and prepare members for participation in the legislative session.
  • Actively participate with community partners with consideration of mutual benefit of the partnership.
  • Engage elected leaders to educate and advocate on behalf of AFT Washington membership throughout the year.
  • Monitor state agencies which impact AFT Washington membership and report back to and advise staff and leaders on matters of interest.
  • Assess effectiveness of AFT Washington’s legislative program.
  • Track and advise staff team on federal legislative priorities.

Knowledge to Gain by the end of Year One

  • Knowledge of significant previous AFT Washington legislative campaigns and gains.
  • Knowledge of priority issues and range of solutions for each constituency.
  • Deepened knowledge of legislator landscape including power analysis.
  • Identify areas for continuing professional development.


  • High-quality medical, dental, vision, AD&D insurance.
  • Employer-paid pension plan.
  • Four weeks paid vacation during the first year of employment.
  • 12 paid holidays plus two floating holidays.

The first nine months of employment shall be probationary.

This position is represented by Teamsters Local 117.

To Apply:
Applicant’s résumé and three (3) references are required. Cover letter and personal statements are not required but will be reviewed. Please submit application materials to:

James To, Operations Manager
AFT Washington, AFL-CIO
Attn: Government Relations Specialist Application
604 Oakesdale Ave. SW, Suite 103
Renton, WA 98057
FAX: 206-242-3131
Email: jto@aftwa.org

For questions, please contact James To by email or at 206-495-5967.

AFT Washington is an equal opportunity employer and encourages all qualified applicants to apply. The organization strives to eradicate all forms of oppression and achieve equity for all. Equity, diversity, and inclusion are essential organizational goals which are incorporated into the hiring process. All applicants will be assessed with consideration of their understanding of institutionalized oppression and strategies for addressing it.

WHEN APPLYING: Be sure to indicate that you saw this information at UNIONJOBS.COM.