Member Profile: Jerome Washington
Environmental justice is one of our key union values—as expressed in our Purpose Statement—and part of our mission to provide our members and all Californians the opportunity to have a good life.
For Local 1000 member Jerome Washington, the environment is something he gets to protect, respect and enjoy in his professional as well as personal life. He’s fulfilling a lifetime appreciation for our natural world as an Associate Environmental Planner at Caltrans in Eureka.
A fifteen-year state employee, Washington acts as an Environmental Construction Liaison for Caltrans, ensuring that the roads and bridges built and maintained by the agency comply with the environmental permits and regulations that help keep our environment healthy.
“I’ve had a love for the outdoors since my childhood,” says Washington. “Now, I’m working to make sure the next generation has the opportunity to visit and appreciate the beaches and redwoods I’m enjoying with my family now.”
He reminds us that “the transportation system is how we get to these beautiful places,” and is particularly proud of a recent project he worked on—the Willits Bypass—where Caltrans built a much-needed 7-mile road while managing to preserve and improve the environment at the same time. The agency set aside a significant portion of the land they acquired to protect wetlands and enhance the habitats of native elk and salmon.
“This was a win-win partnership that overcame the environmental challenges of road construction while serving the needs of those living in and around Willits,” said Washington. He applies his passion for the natural world as a member of Local 1000’s Environmental Committee because “our union is part of a larger movement to achieve environmental justice,” citing our support of the upcoming observance of Earth Day and the March for Science. “Anytime you can add science to the decision making process, you can expect a better outcome.”
Building A Stronger Union
While striving to preserve and enhance our environment, Washington is a dedicated and busy union activist. He became a steward around the time then-governor Schwarzenegger threatened to pay state employees minimum wage. “I realized what my family and my coworkers stood to lose,” he said. “Standing together with other members, we could (and can) fight off the challenges that threaten us.”
Washington was soon elected as a District Bargaining Unit Representative and later became the president of DLC 749. “We are constantly faced with threats that will take our rights away. That’s why I’m sticking with my union.”