Monday, March 16, 2015
► In the Skagit Valley Herald — Steelworkers strike not quite resolved locally — The United Steelworkers union may have reached a tentative national contract with Royal Dutch Shell, but that doesn’t mean the strike at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes is over. Ryan Anderson, local USW member and Tesoro unit chair, confirmed that some issues remain for Tesoro in Anacortes: “We still continue to struggle to get a contract from Tesoro over local issues.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — PICKET HELP & SOLIDARITY RALLY IN ANACORTES — There’s no deal yet! Although the USW and Shell have a tentative deal (see below) on a national oil refinery agreement, THE STRIKE CONTINUES at Tesoro in Anacortes, Wash. Local bargaining continues over unresolved issues, including the company’s demand to take control of the employees’ health care plan.
So now more than ever, assistance is needed to maintain strong picket lines, particularly during manager/contractor shift changes each day from 5 to 7 a.m. and 3 to 8 p.m. Please come help picket at those times, or whenever you are available 24-7. Directions: Take I-5 to Exit 230 (Anacortes, State Route 20), take SR 20 west to March Point Road, take a right on March Point (the stoplight after the Ford dealership), the refinery is at 10200 W March Point Road.
Also, all union members and community supporters are urged to attend a Solidarity Rally with Tesoro Anacortes workers on Saturday, March 21 at 1 p.m. outside the refinery gates. Meet at the Park and Ride at 8147 S. March Point Road (off Highway 20) near the refinery. Let’s show these striking refinery workers that the community is behind them until they get a fair contract that protects their safety and resolves their local issues. Stay tuned to The Stand for more details.
► In the P.S. Business Journal — ‘Kent is being decimated:’ Workers offer passionate testimony in Olympia over Boeing tax bill — Union people spoke passionately about Boeing moving work out of state and letting go seasoned workers. They drew a picture of company leaders not caring about the workers, arguing that the leadership’s disengagement has undermined Boeing’s ability to deliver quality. Boeing engineer and SPEEA member Mike Hochberg said the $8.7 billion in tax credits the Legislature granted to get Boeing to build the 777X in Everett failed to require Boeing to keep jobs in the state: “There are no strings attached. Boeing said, ‘Thank you very much for the money,’ and moved jobs out.”
► A related story in the PSBJ — Boeing CEO McNerney’s compensation grows 24 percent to nearly $29M — McNerney took home nearly $29 million last year, including $14 million in bonuses – the maximum amount he could have earned. In addition to the bonuses, executives also saw the benefit of interest rates on their pensions, which contributed to the increase in compensation.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Oh yeah. They still have their pensions.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Don’t change what’s working (editorial) — Simply put, there is no reason for the Legislature to give any further consideration to so-called reforms to the state’s short-term lending rules, as passed by the Senate last week. There’s no reason because there’s no benefit to anyone other than the payday loan industry… Often those who need these loans are most likely to fall victim to predatory lending.
ALSO at The Stand — No on SB 5899: Payday loans don’t solve crisis, they create one (editorial)
► In the Columbian — Legislature gets ready to work on education — More than halfway through the legislative session, the most pressing issue continues to loom over the Legislature: how to satisfy the requirements of McCleary.
► From KPLU — Berry pickers say they should be paid for rest breaks — Should berry pickers be paid separately for rest breaks? This is a question before the Washington State Supreme Court tomorrow. Farm workers are suing Sakuma Brothers Farms, based in Burlington. They say the 10 minutes of break time required every four hours under state law should be paid for outside the money they earn bringing in a harvest of berries.
► In the Seattle Times — Change unfair rules to reap rewards for all (by Jerry Large) — Basic unfairness is built into many of our institutions, and it needs to be pulled out by the roots, which is why looking at money is a good place to start. I was pleased to read about a state Supreme Court decision that addresses the way poor people are dealt with in the criminal-justice system.
► In the Spokesman-Review — Rosauers bagger revels in his brush with fame — David Tochinskiy, 19, a part-time Rosauers employee (and UFCW 1439 member), is this year’s National Grocer Association Best Bagger. He also beat former boxboy David Letterman in a “bag-off” viewed by millions on air and more than 10,000 on YouTube.
► From The Hill — Obama courts Dems on trade — President Obama is personally courting Democrats to build support for his trade agenda in what has become a divisive fight with his own party. Obama’s goal is to build a bipartisan coalition in Congress to pass trade promotion authority (TPA) or “fast-track” legislation that would prevent Congress from amending trade deals.
► From AP — Will Trans-Pacific pact benefit U.S. workers? — Would this be better than previous deals like NAFTA? TPP is being negotiated in the shadow of 1994’s NAFTA. That deal with Mexico and Canada, failed to deliver the big job gains its supporters had predicted. And it’s blamed by critics for the loss of many U.S. manufacturing jobs. In his State of the Union address in January, Obama conceded that “past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype.”
► At Politico — Do unions have the oomph to stop Obama’s trade agenda? — The AFL-CIO’s bold announcement last week that it would withhold contributions to congressional Democrats in advance of votes on fast-track trade promotion authority thrilled labor supporters and annoyed many Democrats. But it remains to be seen whether the move will impede the Obama administration’s trade agenda — or merely become the latest illustration of unions’ declining clout.
► In the Oregonian — Ron Wyden’s internet freedom allies fret he’ll abandon them on trade pact — Sen. Ron Wyden was greeted Friday morning at his Umatilla town hall meeting by a 30-foot-long blimp urging him to oppose an upcoming trade pack that critics say could curb internet freedom.
► From The Hill — House Republicans look to strike down ‘ambush elections’ — Congress is expected to vote this week to reverse a controversial labor rule that speeds up union elections. The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on legislation that would kill the National Labor Relations Board rule. The Senate passed a similar measure earlier this month in a 53-46 vote. Congress does not appear to have the two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto by President Obama, however, making it likely the rule will go into effect on scheduled on April 14.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This rule is necessary because businesses routinely slow down the election process for months — and sometimes for years — through litigation, while “weeding out” union supporters, to discourage unionizing. The new NLRB rule doesn’t even offer a specific timetable for holding union elections, but simply requires that a vote is held at “the earliest date practicable.” Some ambush.
► In the Washington Post — To fix inequality, Democrats are pushing unions — In recent months, a collection of left-leaning politicians, economists, and public intellectuals have started making a renewed case for collective bargaining as a tool to heal the ailing middle class. The pitch doubles as an effort for Democrats to preserve a key constituency they’ve long relied on to win elections, at a time when conservatives are making strong gains in often very public attacks on union power.
► In today’s Washington Post — Federal labor leader tells Obama ‘it’s time for a raise’ — American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. was was invited to walk with Obama, former president George W. Bush and civil rights foot soldiers commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Cox used his moment of face time with Obama to tell him, “Boss man, it’s time for a raise.”
► In today’s NY Times — Medicaid expansion in red states (editorial) — The ideological gridlock in so many state capitals is inflicting serious harm on state budgets. But the greatest losers are poor people who cannot afford health coverage and the hospitals and providers who will have to take them on as charity care.
► From AFL-CIO Now — Union-made St. Patrick’s Day shopping list — Make sure your traditional corned beef meal includes union-made products from Saag’s, Thumann’s or Winter’s Premium Deli. You can propose a St. Patrick’s Day toast with fine whiskies from UFCW-represented distilleries.
► In the Washington Post — For Hardee’s workers, it’s not a parable, it’s a job — Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), delivering the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, recalled growing up in the small Iowa town of Red Oak and working the biscuit shift at Hardee’s to pay for college. Ernst, 44, cited her own striving as proof that opportunity is available to any American who wants it.
Brandi didn’t see the speech. Neither did any of her co-workers. They had never thought of the biscuit shift as a parable. Hardee’s is a fast-food job, and paychecks come out every other Wednesday. Trina Starkey, who is 18, spends hers on rent and ramen noodles. Emily Abell, who is 20, buys diapers. Brandi, who is 31, drives around Creston with a bank envelope to pay her bills, including a stop at Leslie’s Dance Emporium to cover her daughter’s tumbling class. Of the 17 employees at the Hardee’s in Creston, only two use the job to pay for college.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.