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Boeing limbo, desperation wages, ‘Lost’…

Friday, March 28, 2014




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — With 90 missing, search of debris field goes nonstop — They are searching for their own. Families and friends are desperate to find the ones who were home on a Saturday morning when the earth ripped open and crashed across so many lives. For the sixth straight day searchers waded through the unrelenting mud, sawed through downed trees and dug, often by hand, through debris.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — In Darrington, people band together to do the job — As the town deals with the grief of losing neighbors, friends, relatives and acquaintances, people are back at their jobs.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Any union members and their families affected by this tragedy — or any other extreme hardship — can apply for financial assistance from the Foundation for Working Families, a hardship relief program overseen by the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Download and fill out this FWF Assistance Form and submit it to Karen White via email or via fax at 360-570-5189. For more information, call Karen at 360-570-5169.




boeing-culture► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing offers scant info on which engineers will lose jobs — About 2,000 Boeing engineers and technical staff have been in limbo since before Christmas, when management abruptly announced that about half of them will likely lose their jobs as work is moved to Alabama, South Carolina and Missouri. They were given no further specifics. On Thursday, Boeing gave a limited status update and announced that the company will offer voluntary buyouts with up to 26 weeks of pay for a subset of the employees who “will be identified during the next several months.” With employees left not knowing who will be eligible, the update will do little to dispel the uncertainty.

“It’s a ton of stress for our family,” said the wife of one lead engineer, a 20-year Boeing veteran. “Should I get the house ready for sale? Should I be looking at houses in St. Louis?” his wife asked. “It’s unbelievable. They can’t treat people like this.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — The photo above is from Boeing’s web page about the company’s culture and values that features such platitudes as, “We recognize our strength and our competitive advantage is — and always will be — people.”




► In the P.S. Business Journal — Why the maritime industry is important: Seattle leaders get an earful — Washington’s maritime industry directly employs about 57,000 people, which is 60 percent of the number of people employed by Boeing, but maritime employment won’t continue to thrive unless it gets more public support. This was the message from maritime industry leaders during a roundtable discussion at the Port of Seattle on Thursday.




► In today’s LA Times — — Ring of LAX baggage handlers stole heaps of valuables, police say — A group of baggage handlers pulled off one of the largest property heists in Los Angeles International Airport history. The men were employed by Menzies Aviation, which provides services to airports internationally.

baggage-handlersEDITOR’S NOTE — What these baggage handlers have done is criminal and they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That said, desperation wages — pay so low that full-time workers can’t afford to survive — can lead to desperate decisions. If these Menzies employees had a job that they valued, one that paid decent wages, would they have made this choice? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Here at Sea-Tac Airport, Alaska Airlines baggage handlers earned as much as $16 an hour back in 2008 as employees of the airline. Then the company fired them and hired Menzies to replace them, and today those folks make just $9.66, barely above minimum wage. That’s one of the frustrations that led to the passage of the SeaTac $15 minimum wage proposition.

Which brings us to…

► In today’s News Tribune — Walmart employee accused of stealing cash, says he wasn’t getting enough hours — A Tacoma Walmart employee accused of stealing from his till allegedly told detectives he took the money because he has debt, and wasn’t getting enough hours at the store.




boehner-john-2► In The Hill — Senate advances unemployment bill — The Senate voted 65-34 Thursday to advance legislation that would restore federal unemployment benefits. The test vote, which drew the support of 10 Republicans, likely clears the way for passage of legislation that would extend a federal unemployment insurance program for five months. Action in the House appears unlikely, however, as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he wouldn’t consider the Senate deal.

► In The Hill — GOP targets NLRB ‘ambush election’ rule — Republicans lawmakers offered legislation Thursday to stop the National Labor Relations Board from speeding up union elections.

► In today’s NY Times — America’s taxation tradition (by Paul Krugman) — The demonization of anyone who talks about the dangers of concentrated wealth is based on a misreading of both the past and the present. Such talk isn’t un-American; it’s very much in the American tradition. And it’s not at all irrelevant to the modern world. So who will be this generation’s Teddy Roosevelt?




raiderettes► At Think Progress — How the justice system is rigged against these cheerleaders suing the Raiders for wage theft — The cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders have alleged a laundry list of labor law violations by the NFL team that employs them. They claim they are paid less than minimum wage and deprived overtime, that their wages are withheld until the end of the season, and that they face fines docked from their $1,250 a season salary for violations like forgetting to bring their pom poms. A number of Raiderettes filed a class action lawsuit in January against the franchise. But rather than respond to their legal claims, the Raiders are arguing that the cheerleaders have no right to take their allegations to court in the first place, thanks to a clause in their contract requiring them to take their qualms to arbitration before the NFL commissioner.

► In today’s NY Times — Playing college football is a job (editorial) — If Northwestern and other universities don’t want to deal with unions for athletes, they should stop fighting their players and work with them to improve conditions.

► From NBC News — Labor unions saved Ford in ‘darkest hour,’ says Bill Ford — Bill Ford, the executive chairman of the Detroit automaker, said in an interview that the former United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger doesn’t get enough credit for helping to shore up the books during Ford’s “darkest hour.”

► In today’s Washington Post — Dismantling CEOs’ golden parachutes — It’s nice work if you can get it. Robert Marcus, who’s been the CEO of Time Warner Cable since only Jan. 1 of this year, stands to receive nearly $80 million if the company’s purchase by Comcast closes and he leaves his job.




► For no good reason, the Entire Staff of the Stand presents “Lost” by Frank Ocean. Fellow fans can rejoice that the long-awaited follow-up to his awesome, critically acclaimed debut album from 2012, Channel Orange, will reportedly be this summer. In the meantime, Ocean just released a new song in which he collaborates with Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of The Clash!


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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