Friday, August 30, 2013
► In today’s Seattle Times — Fast-food workers take to streets for $15/hour pay — Seattle fast-food workers and union activists chanted slogans, picketed and sought to cajole co-workers into walking off their restaurant jobs Thursday to demand a $15 minimum wage. Organizers said hundreds of people participated in Thursday’s rallies, which also demanded the right to organize unions without retaliation.
► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma workers join nationwide fast-food wage protest — Workers, union staffers and sympathizers in Tacoma Thursday joined a nationwide “strike” designed to draw attention to the plight of fast food workers making the minimum wage. (Also see video interviews from Tacoma with a striking Arby’s worker and a striking Papa John’s worker who has only gotten a 25-cents-an-hour raise after working there for 6 years.)
► From CBS News — Fast-food strikes underline big national problem — Government statistics and studies suggest that the common picture of the fast food worker is inaccurate. Not only are relatively few of them teenagers looking for some pocket money while attending school, but the number of adults working in low-paying part-time jobs against their wishes is rapidly growing.
EDITOR’S NOTE — According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for the nation’s roughly 505,000 fast-food cooks is dropping. Last year it was $9.03 an hour, a wage so low it would be illegal in Washington state.
► At NYTimes.com — Putting Labor Back in Labor Day — There’s no intrinsic reason that service jobs at profitable corporations, say, in restaurants and big box stores, should pay so little. What is missing today is employee bargaining power, which unionization provides, so that the growth in labor productivity flows more to wages and salary and less to executive salaries and shareholder returns. Corporations benefit from the status quo. Workers don’t. That’s why they want a new bargain. Happy Labor Day.
ALSO at The Stand — Wall Street Journal can’t connect dots on jobs, wages, unions — Washington’s higher minimum wage and good-paying union jobs are putting money in people’s pockets, which is being spent at local businesses and boosting the state’s economy. It’s a success story about the positive economic impact of organized labor and wage standards that respect work and families. But don’t expect the anti-union free-market ideologues at The Wall Street Journal to connect those dots.
► In the (Centralia) Chronicle — Bradken Chehalis Foundry labor union fights for a ‘fair’ contract — One year after Bradken Chehalis Foundry workers unionized — marking the largest Lewis County labor organization in the last three decades to do so — thwarted contract negotiations have lead to charges being filed against the company and increasing employee frustration. Nearly 100 workers at Bradken voted last year to join the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers. But employees and union representatives at Bradken are reporting little progress in bargaining. With no contract in place, discontented workers could begin circulating a petition to decertify the union. IAM filed charges against Bradken last week with the NLRB for regressive and surface bargaining, which could block a decertification effort.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — SeaTac businesswoman sues to return minimum-wage measure to ballot — In the latest twist to the legal maneuvering over putting SeaTac’s minimum wage measure before voters, a SeaTac small business owner has filed a lawsuit against King County Elections and the city to demand that the measure be put back on the November ballot.
ALSO at The Stand — SeaTac ‘Good Jobs’ initiative backers sue to stay on ballot (Aug. 29)
► At Crosscut — The elephant in the room on the Longview coal port — The coal terminal proposed at Longview on the Columbia River would need a major fix on the stretch of SR 432 where traffic crossing the Lewis & Clark Bridge merges with the railroad tracks and streets that serve the busy Port of Longview.
ALSO at The Stand — Attend Senate transportation forums to support funding package
► In the PS Business Journal — WA Supreme Court affirms Skamania County wind farm — The State Supreme Court Thursday ruled in favor of the Whistling Ridge Wind Energy Project that will erect 35 wind turbines in eastern Skamania County.
► In the Daily World — GHC struts its stuff in rankings — A nationwide report ranking Grays Harbor College as the top community college in the state and 15th in the nation.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Mukilteo teachers approve contract
► In the Tri-City Herald — Kennewick teachers reach tentative contract deal
► In today’s (Vancouver) Columbian — PeaceHealth employees reeling over layoffs — Gail Zumwalt never thought she would be looking for a new job. The 56-year-old has spent nearly her entire adult life — 34 years — working at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center as a unit secretary in the hospital’s Family Birth Center. She’d planned to work another 10 years at the hospital and then retire. But on Tuesday, Zumwalt was called in from her vacation and told she was among the 124 PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center employees being laid off.
► In case you missed this must-read in yesterday’s Oregonian — That healing touch at PeaceHealth (by Steve Duin) — “I recognize,” writes PeaceHealth President Alan Yordy (who made $1.272 million last year, an increase of $237,000 over the previous year), “that (looming layoffs) will be very painful and difficult for all of us, especially those dedicated caregivers and their families whose positions will be eliminated.” I’m guessing Yordy and his executive team are talented folks. Worth every dime in salary and bonuses. And if you live near one of PeaceHealth’s nine hospitals, you’re rooting for the facilities to remain innovative, prosperous … and open in your hour of need. But when you slap Jesus Christ on your masthead, when you insist that your primary mission is to relieve pain and suffering and treat “each person in a loving and caring way,” how do you defend laying off employees while your execs continue to live high on the hog?
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — CEO pay a growing insult (editorial) — With such disparity between the top boss and the worker bees at all levels, how can it be said any CEO “earns” his or her pay? Especially when the numbers are so mind-boggling: A new report found that executives who were fired left with an average payment of $47.7 million. Such economic insanity serves only to foster the ugly, continually growing divide between the “fortunate few” and vast majority who labor for them.
► At Daily Kos — Scott Walker blames Syrian unrest for lack of jobs in Wisconsin — Says the Wisconsin governor: “We can do all the good possible, we can get the state back on the right track, but if there’s instability around the world it will inevitably have an impact.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Maybe this is why his handlers have imposed a media blackout at his Sept. 5 fundraising appearance in Seattle. Somebody might ask him why Wisconsin dropped from 11th to 44th in the nation in private-sector job creation since he took office. Show your opposition to Walker’s divisive and failed extreme right-wing agenda by joining the protest outside his Seattle fundraiser. Let’s tell him and his fans: Not In Our State!
► At Huffington Post — Scott Walker’s office tries to disappear story doubting jobs pledge — The Wisconsin governor’s office tried to persuade northern Wisconsin NBC affiliate WJFW to pull a Monday report with the headline, “Walker backs off campaign jobs pledge at Merrill stop.” The online story said he was moving away from his promise to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term.
► At Daily Kos — Wisconsin GOP polis send $500K in taxpayer funds to Koch front group
► From AP — Obama to address AFL-CIO Convention next month — White House and labor officials confirm Obama’s attendance at the AFL-CIO Convention in Los Angeles on Sept. 9. The White House says Obama will talk about his plans to create jobs, provide better pay and strengthen workplace protections.
► In today’s Washington Post — Obamacare affects executive and legislative employees differently — The law pushes members of Congress and the staffers onto healthcare exchanges, but executive-branch employees can keep their existing plans.
► In the Christian Science Monitor — Can unions make inroads in Texas? Richard Trumka will try — For the 2014 election season, the AFL-CIO “will be in Texas in a bigger way than we have in the past,” he says.
► In The Hill — NLRB focuses on Mexican workers — The nation’s union rights watchdog wants Mexican workers in the U.S. to know about their ability to organize.
► At Huffington Post — Pinching pensions to keep Wall Street fat and happy (by Dean Baker) — The debate over public pensions shows clearly the contempt that the elites have for ordinary workers. While elites routinely preach the sanctity of contract when it works to benefit the rich and powerful, they are happy to treat the contracts that provide workers with pensions as worthless scraps of paper.
► The Entire Staff of The Stand would rather watch the sweet, lovely Corinne Bailey Rae let her hair down on stage than to witness whatever that was Hannah Montana did last weekend. Is that a sign of taste or just age? You decide.
Have a great Labor Day weekend!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.