Mexican Consulate in Seattle and Employment Security Department sign historic agreement

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.

Suzi LeVine and Roberto Dondisch

Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine and Consul Roberto Dondisch display the signed Memorandum of Cooperation — one copy in Spanish and one in English. One wall of the room where the signing ceremony took place was made entirely of glass. On the other side, individuals and families awaited their turn to speak with consulate staff about a variety of issues, and the voices carried slightly through the glass. “I love that we have the sounds of kids around us,” said Suzi in her remarks. “They represent the work we do.”

 

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 from the Consulate of Mexico in Seattle and from the Washington State Employment Security Department

Gathering after the signing ceremony are, left to right: Luis Mingo, the consulate’s head of Political and Economic Affairs; Deputy Consul Eduardo Sosa; Ricardo Mora of the consulate’s Protection and Legal Affairs Department; Rafael Colón, ESD’s SharedWork marketing manager; Lorena Toyos of the consulate’s Protection and Legal Affairs Department; Alicia Cárdenas, ESD’s Spanish outreach manager; Consul Roberto Dondisch; Commissioner Suzi LeVine; René Maldonado, Washington’s state monitor advocate; Janelle Guthrie, ESD’s communications director; Alberto Isiodia, Central WorkSource Region director; and Diana Oliveros of the consulate’s Communities Department.

“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.

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#Power of a Job: Older job seeker finds understanding and a new job at WorkSource

Happy Workforce Wednesday!

As partners in Washington state’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job.

Every week, we spotlight a different Power of a Job success story. Today we bring you Michael Rivers of WorkSource Lynnwood, who shares how he helped an older job seeker find a new job. Michael and other WorkSource professionals understand that older workers often have difficulty navigating the modern job market. Patience and time help, as Michael’s story illustrates.

Here’s Michael’s story:

In September, Rose came in to WorkSource Lynnwood. She’s a 59-year-old woman who lost her job after working for a long time for an insurance underwriter.  She was very distraught and not used to looking for work. She was totally stressed out over writing her resume and with anything related to her job search. Rose was a very private woman, and getting into financial matters and the things we needed to do made her very uncomfortable.

I approached her with tact and said I would help her go as far as she wanted. I assured her that her comfort zone was OK, and that we could work gradually at whatever pace she was ready go.

By the time we got to October, she was ready to start. She began her job search and we were able to work through her resume issues.

In December, she started working at another insurance company as a commercial account assistant. She’s making $25.64 an hour, which is about $53,000 per year, and she’s very happy. She sent me an email saying she is enjoying her job, and she thanked me for all my help.

I’m just grateful I was able to help somebody. That’s what we do here! We help people. We hope the community around us will take full advantage of the resources provided at Lynnwood’s office.

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Power of a Job: WorkSource Vancouver helps job seeker mend her “broken spirit”

Happy Workforce Wednesday!

As partners in Washington state’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job.

Every week, we spotlight a different Power of a Job success story. This week, we bring you Debbie Smith, a job seeker with a broken spirit who got back on track at WorkSource Vancouver in Strategies for Success: a life-skills class series.

Here’s Debbie’s story:

I’m 61 years old and got fired from my job in September 2017. I was completely broken and didn’t know what to do with myself. I had never been let go from a job, fired or used unemployment benefits. I was in bad shape emotionally.

I signed up for unemployment benefits and learned about WorkSource. I met Charles at WorkSource Vancouver who helped me do a reality check. Once I realized I had lots of options, I calmed down and knew it going to be OK.

I was enrolled in a six-week Strategies for Success course at WorkSource. I learned about interviewing, how to create a resume and the proper way to fill out an application.

Afterward, I attended a Clark College class. The instructor encouraged me to return to school and look at different career options. I’d been a product manager and really didn’t want to do that again. She signed me up for an AutoCAD [computer-aided design and drafting software] class and a career exploration class.

My first semester ended with six credits and A’s in both classes. In January, I started as a full-time student to earn an associate degree in marketing. I’m working to get my unemployment benefits extended.

I have nothing but the highest praise for WorkSource. I tell everyone what they do for people who are dislocated or unemployed. I’m even encouraging my daughter, who is 19, to take the Strategies for Success series.

I’m so enthused by the things I learned in just six weeks. I’m ready to go out and conquer the world and start the next chapter of life!

Power of a Job: Disabled veteran discovers new, fulfilling direction at WorkSource

As partners in Washington’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job. We also work with businesses to help them find employees because we know they’re Powered by Jobs.

This week’s Power of a Job story is about James Thomas, a customer of WorkSource Cowlitz-Wahkiakum. He suffered a head injury and couldn’t return to his usual line of work. WorkSource helped him re-imagine his life and take those first exciting steps down a brand new career path.

Four years ago, I had a work-related injury. I broke my skull while working in Redding, Calif. I had to figure out how to come out of it and get back into the workforce.

One of my problems was headaches, so I moved to Washington, where the weather is much better and I could handle my pain. Then, I had to focus on my cognitive skills, and I got involved with WorkSource. As a part of my TANF [Temporary Assistance to Needy Families] benefits, I had to show I was working toward my goals.

WorkSource gave me the tools to get back into the workforce. It helped me find what I wanted to do because I couldn’t go into contracting anymore. I didn’t feel that was possible with my pain levels.

WorkSource steered me toward the medical field and toward helping those with problems with head injuries. I have a heart for that.

WorkSource helped me switch over my California driver’s license and vehicle registration to Washington, and even helped me fix my vehicle. I needed it to attend classes, so they jumped on that. “We have a program for that,” they said.

They’ve been phenomenal. I’m a disabled veteran, so I get veterans services. I have a general worker here [at WorkSource Cowlitz-Wahkiakum] named Esther [Sadlier] and she’s in touch with Tammi [Leclerc], my Strategies for Success instructor. Amazing team. All they’re interested in is helping you and giving you the tools to go further.

And now, because of them, I’m getting in a program called Title I that is going to pay for my [certified nursing assistant degree] and eventually my [physician assistant degree] so I can help people with dementia and problems with cognitive rehabilitation.

I couldn’t be happier with WorkSource.

#Power of a Job: Student of life-skills class transforms herself, lands a job interview

Happy Workforce Wednesday!

As partners in Washington state’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job.

Every week, we spotlight a different Power of a Job success story. This week, we bring you a story from WorkSource Columbia Basin in Kennewick. Our Strategies for Success instructor, Olivia Mendoza, shares how a reluctant student became a big champion of the life-skills program and landed a job interview.

My name is Olivia Mendoza and I’m a Strategies for Success instructor at WorkSource Columbia Basin in Kennewick. I want to share a story about one of my students.

When she came to class the first time, I could tell she was very nervous. Her anxiety level was really high. She was uncomfortable just being around other students.

She was a Department of Social and Human Services (DSHS) client, and DSHS had sanctioned* her, requiring her to attend four weeks of class to have the sanction removed. As an instructor, that’s a very difficult situation. Because she had never worked and never participated in the class, DSHS had basically punished her and said “You are going to participate.”

But soon things changed. She had perfect attendance and her confidence grew. She started feeling comfortable and sharing more. At the end of four weeks, she felt the class was really valuable. So she asked DSHS for permission to attend the additional two weeks of classes that were not required.

Now, she came to class full of energy and excitement. She told us about practicing her new skills with family at home. She even handed out flyers to people outside the WorkSource office, encouraging them to take the class.

Yesterday, I received a text from her saying that she had her first job interview. It’s pretty exciting to see her growth and to think back about where she came from.

*DSHS clients can be sanctioned for failing to complete WorkFirst (Washington’s welfare to work program) activities without a good reason.