Working Washington
  • Working Washington

Above is the ad Sound Transit doesn't want you to see, an ad so controversial apparently, that the transit agency would rather fight an expensive lawsuit than give the labor-backed organization Working Washington the $6,300 worth of ad space it paid for on light rail cars. Or something.

Rejecting an ad that merely calls for "good jobs"? Silly, isn't it? King County Council member Larry Phillips seems to think so, enough at least to prompt him to write a letter (after the jump) to Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl, questioning the decision. As Phillips points out, Sound Transit has accepted prior Working Washington ads, and this one violates none of the agency's restrictions on "political advertising."

For its part Working Washington stands by both the ad and its lawsuit.

Joni Earl


Sound Transit

Dear Joni,

I was contacted by organizations affiliated with Working Washington regarding a recent decision by the Sound Transit administration to reject an advertisement scheduled to run on Link light rail trains this month.

It is unclear why the proposed advertisement, which reads “Let’s make all airport jobs good jobs,” was rejected by the agency. I understand that Sound Transit’s advertising policy stipulates “maintaining a position of neutrality on political, religious, and controversial matters.” I have reviewed the policy, which contains a list of specific types advertising that is prohibited on or at Sound Transit facilities, and the Working Washington advertisement does not appear to fall into any of the prohibited categories. The closest category appears to be “political” advertising, which prohibits advertising for:

    • · candidates for office;

      · political party;

      · any proposition, referendum, proposed or existing laws, or ballot measures.

  • A statement of support for “good jobs,” or even the implied support of unionization efforts, does not appear to fit Sound Transit’s definition of “political advertising” or any other type of prohibited advertising.

    Further, concerns were raised by these organizations about Sound Transit’s inconsistent application of the agency’s advertising policy over time; Sound Transit has accepted similar ads from Working Washington in the past.

    I support workers’ collective bargaining rights and respect the role of unions which ensure that men and women who work hard in our community have access to medical benefits, living wage jobs, safe workplaces, and other worker protections. I also support Sound Transit’s need to establish and consistently apply policies that ensure safe and comfortable service for riders. In this case, these two goals do not seem incompatible.

    I request further information about the Sound Transit administration’s decision to reject Working Washington’s proposed advertisement. I would appreciate your response at your earliest convenience. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.


    Larry Phillips, Councilmember
    Metropolitan King County Council, District Four
    Sound Transit Boardmember