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Port threat, Shell game, Providence pickets, Hilton vs. ‘peasants’…

Thursday, February 5, 2015




► From AP — West Coast port employers: Shutdown could be 5 days away — West Coast seaports could shut down in as soon as five days — hobbling U.S. trade with Asia — if dockworkers and their employers cannot reach a new contract, the head of a maritime association warned Wednesday. Operators of port terminals and shipping lines do not want to lock out longshoremen, but that would be inevitable if cargo congestion persists at the ports, Pacific Maritime Association CEO James McKenna said.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — With deal in sight, ILWU urges against closing West Coast ports




► From Reuters — Fourth day of U.S. refineries strike ends with new offer — The USW said a new contract offer was made by lead oil company negotiator Royal Dutch Shell on Wednesday night as a strike by U.S. refinery workers ended its fourth day. Said a USW spokeswoman: “The USW has received an offer and will respond after consideration of the offer tomorrow.” About 4,000 workers at nine plants continue to walk picket lines in California, Kentucky, Texas, and Washington.

shell_anacortes-refinery► From Reuters — For striking U.S. refinery workers, Shell shows a new face — What most frustrated the United Steelworkers union negotiators was something they had never seen before: an intransigent Shell. The USW had always viewed Shell as the most flexible of the big oil companies, much easier to negotiate with than Exxon Mobil Corp or Marathon Petroleum Corp. In fact, the union picks the company to head up negotiations and specifically chose Shell this year for its perceived flexibility.




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Bills float new lower wage floor for teens — Bosses could pay teen workers less in the summer or whenever they start a new job, under a pair of Republican bills aired in a contentious Senate committee hearing Wednesday.

► From KOMO — State lawmakers want lower minimum wage for teen workers — At a time when there’s talk of raising the state’s minimum wage, there is also a push at the state legislature to lower the minimum wage for teenagers in certain circumstances.


► In today’s Spokesman-Review — State needs to act soon on gas tax increase (editorial) — The House passed a transportation plan last year that included a gas tax boost. The Senate did not, but the Majority Coalition is gaining confidence that it can pull together enough votes to pass a package that includes an increase of 10 to 12 cents per gallon. Both sides understand that revenue from a gas tax is a diminishing return because of increased fuel efficiency, so other sources must be tapped… The framework for a deal exists. The circumstances couldn’t be better.

► From We Party Patriots — Seattle transit expansion running $150M under budget thanks to union workforce, PLA — One bright spot in Seattle’s infrastructural waiting game is a 100-percent union job being completed under a worker-supportive Project Labor Agreement. The University Link line, which will connect Seattle’s downtown to the new Capitol Hill and University District stations, is both ahead of schedule and under budget, on track to begin service in early 2016.

ericksen-doug► At PubliCola — Sen. Ericksen supports gas tax increase for transit (in his district) — Sen. Doug Ericksen’s (R-Ferndale) gas tax bill authorizes a $0.01 per gallon fuel tax if approved by a majority of the voters within in 10 miles of an international border for “transportation improvements, including high capacity transportation, public transportation, and the operation of facilities or programs.” The bill passed today with enthusiastic (and some sarcastic) support from the Democrats on the transportation committee.

► In today’s News Tribune — Top Republicans say they want to reduce carbon emissions, too — Environmentalists pan their proposal, saying it would undermine the green-energy industry.

► MUST-READ in today’s Columbian — Paid sick leave for workers an economical, healthy step (by Esther Cepeda) — there are any number of jobs — most of them low-wage, part-time service jobs — where you don’t want the worker to be miserably sick or mentally checked out, worried about their sick loved one, because they can’t afford to call off work and lose the pay or possibly the job. Those of us who have the choice or flexibility to take an available sick day must speak up for those who are penalized for life’s inevitable speed bumps. It’s ultimately in our own best interest.




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Providence nurses turn to leafleting to air contract grievance — Registered nurses at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, whose contract expired in October, are taking their case to the public through informational leafleting. Money, nurses say, is not the primary issue. Staffing levels are… The nurses are working under a contract extension that runs through Feb. 24. The union represents 1,400 of the hospital’s registered nurses.

st-seattle-minimum-wage-increase► In today’s Seattle Times — Workers ready, employers brace for Seattle’s minimum-wage law — Malcolm Cooper-Suggs, who works at a McDonald’s in downtown Seattle, is eagerly awaiting April 1, when his wage will rise from $9.47 an hour to $11 an hour. But even as workers are eagerly anticipating the wage bump, some employers are uncertain about how to proceed. They wonder, for instance, how tips factor into the formula for calculating what they have to pay, and whether increasing the pay for their minimum-wage workers in Seattle might have ripple effects such as other workers in the company expecting raises as well.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford board wants better worker compensation service after vapor exposures — The board wants DOE to issue strong guidance to Penser, its third-party insurance administrator, to support worker compensation claims associated with chemical vapor exposures.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Author, speaker addresses real lives, struggles of migrant farm workers — A California author is hoping to shed some light on the often-unseen lives and struggles of migrant farm workers with a presentation at Pacific Northwest University this weekend.




► At AFL-CIO Now — County ‘right-to-work’ drive seems to be fizzling in Kentucky — Grassroots opposition by union members and union allies statewide has helped stall the right to work drive, says Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan. He says two other factors have helped: a federal lawsuit filed by nine unions against the Hardin County ordinance — which could be applied to other right to work ordinances — and an opinion from Attorney General Jack Conway that county ordinances are unconstitutional.

freedom-foundation-RTWALSO at The Stand — Right-wing Freedom Foundation swept, but still suing away (Oct. 17, 2014) — The right-wing Freedom Foundation’s cookie-cutter propositions, which seek to impose so-called “right-to-work” collective bargaining restrictions on city governments and to open all bargaining sessions to the public, had been unanimously rejected by the cities of Sequim and Shelton. Since then, two more cities — Chelan and Blaine — have also unanimously rejected the anti-union propositions.

► In today’s NY Times — Governor of Illinois takes aim at labor — Joining the ranks of Republican governors taking aim at the power of labor unions, the new chief executive of Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner, said on Wednesday that the state should ban some political contributions by public employee unions and allow local “right to work” laws. The reaction from Democrats, who control the state legislature, was remarkably muted, not dismissing the governor’s ideas out of hand.

EDITOR’S NOTE — And speaking promoting “free riders” who get something for nothing, in order to kill something you oppose for political reasons…




uninsured-wristbands► In The Hill — GOP unveils new ACA alternative — Three top Republicans are pushing an alternative to the ACA that would scrap the law’s mandates while keeping the tax credits that help low-income people buy private insurance coverage. It would also keep two of the most popular provisions of the ACA — the protections for people with preexisting conditions and the rule that allows young adults to say on their parent’s plans until age 26. The plan is short on details about how it would help the 10 million people who have purchased ACA plans make the transition away from the government program.

EDITOR’S NOTE — If you don’t have to buy insurance and pre-existing conditions must be covered, why wouldn’t everybody just wait until they are sick to get coverage? Plus, we’d return to the days of more uninsured people getting emergency care they can’t pay for and those costs get socialized, driving up costs for everyone.




stop-staples-front► At APWU — American Postal Workers Union to ‘vigorously oppose’ Staples/Office Depot merger — “We call on Congress to weigh in with the FTC and the Department of Justice to stop it,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. In the past year, over the objections of the APWU, consumer organizations, civil rights advocates and teacher groups, Staples has begun offering mail services at its retail stores. In doing so, Staples has replaced highly-trained USPS workers with its own unskilled, low-wage employees. Concurrently, the USPS has reduced hours in some post offices and encouraged customers to use Staples stores instead.

► From Al Jazeera America — Unions can fix the crisis facing adjunct professors (by Amy Dean) — There is a simple solution that can safeguard high educational standards and reverse the ill treatment of adjuncts: unions. Unionizing is a straightforward path to preserving the quality of higher educational and ending the exploitation of adjuncts.

► In the Washington Informer — AFL-CIO: Mass incarceration is not the answer — During the annual celebration commemorating the life and contributions of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a record number of AFL-CIO members met in Atlanta, the birthplace of King, with a mission: communicating to the country and to the world the message that black lives matter.




hilton-conrad► In the Washington Post — Conrad Hilton III’s 10-hour in-flight meltdown — Meet Conrad Hilton III, younger brother to Paris and some kind of royalty in his own mind, it appears. Hilton is accused of causing a ruckus July 31 aboard a more than 10-hour British Airways flight from London to Los Angeles. The 20-year-old, very wealthy man-child appeared in court Tuesday, accused of threatening the flight crew, smoking aboard the plane, making children cry with his profanity-laced tirades and calling everyone who dared be annoyed by his antics “peasants.” Hilton’s account of what happened basically matches the recollections of flight attendants and passengers who had to suffer though the 10-hour ordeal. “I told all of them I could get all of their jobs taken away in less than thirty seconds,” Hilton said, as he recalled his interactions with flight attendants. He complained that the flight attendants were ignoring him or “taking the peasants’ side.” And he bragged that his daddy would bail him out of this situation as he had in the past. After all, he’s already banned from several other airlines, he told the flight attendants.


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