For the first time, the Employment Security Department (ESD) and the Consulate of México in Seattle have a formal protocol for working together.
ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine and Consul Roberto Dondisch signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) — one copy in Spanish and one in English — to document how the two organizations work together. The signing ceremony aligned with Hispanic Heritage Month, Mexican Independence Day and Labor Rights Week.
For years, the Mexican Consulate and ESD have collaborated to help Mexican Nationals and Mexican-Americans in Washington understand their rights and responsibilities under the unemployment program. By law, they jointly handle labor-related complaints. And — not by law, but through a shared desire to serve their common customers — they travel to different areas of the state to meet with people who speak Spanish, educating them about services offered by the two entities and about WorkSource.
Alicia Cárdenas, Employment Security’s Spanish outreach manager, represents ESD at these outreach events, where she often fields questions from consulate staff about how to handle and where to refer people with particular labor issues.
“The majority of consulate staff are appointees arriving mainly from México City or other states, and when they come to Washington, they’re not familiar with state law,” said Alicia. “ESD has mechanisms to handle just about any situation we encounter. And this MOC documents how we work together.”
Nothing in the MOC is new, Alicia said.
“We put the pieces together and memorialized the way the two organizations work together. It’s a package that we all can refer to, even as the players on both sides change over the years,” she said.
The signing ceremony took place in late August at the Consulate of México in Seattle.
“Staff at the Employment Security Department…provide an array of outreach and advocacy services to those you serve. And to be clear — it is who WE serve!”
Commissioner Suzi LeVine said in her remarks at the ceremony. “These shared customers deserve the clarity and respect this memorandum signifies.”
ESD works with other consulates, too, but its relationship with the Mexican Consulate is the most active because Washington is home to 1 million Hispanics. Plus, many Hispanics come to Washington to work.