Document 44: Initiative 172 Petitions

University of Washington Libraries, Manuscripts and University Archives Division (Washington Pension Union papers, accession 185-1, folder 7/4).

Members of the Washington Pension Union (WPU) present signed petitions for initiative 172 at the State Capitol. Despite Canwell's investigation of their organization, the WPU convinced 58% of Washington voters to support Initiative 172, which appeared on the November 1948 ballot. Initiative 172 increased Social Security payments to Washingtonians over 65 years of age and required Washington State to provide free health care to impoverished Washingtonians. Over the next two years, public support for the WPU declined — partly because anti-communist politicians continued to attack the WPU and partly because the WPU took the unpopular position of opposing U.S. involvement in the Korean War. In November 1950, Washington voters repealed Initiative 172. In the early 1950's, the federal government jailed several WPU leaders because they were communists.

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