Wednesday, September 2, 2015
► In the Seattle Times — Seattle City Council member says let Uber drivers unionize — A Seattle elected official says he has a plan to help independent contractors such as Uber drivers unionize in pursuit of better working conditions and pay, but whether the strategy would hold up in court is unclear. City Councilmember Mike O’Brien will introduce legislation next week that would give taxi drivers, for-hire drivers and drivers for app-based transportation-network companies such as Uber and Lyft the right to collectively bargain with those companies — like union members who, as employees, have bargaining rights under federal law. The legislation would apply strictly to drivers, but its enactment likely would carry implications for independent contractors in other sectors of the growing “gig economy.”
► In today’s NY Times — Uber rebuffed by judge in ruling on drivers’ suit — A federal judge granted class-action status on Tuesday to a lawsuit that questions the employment classification of Uber drivers, paving the way for a legal challenge that could strike at the heart of the ride-hailing company’s business model.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Uber’s ride getting a bit bumpier (by Danny Westneat) — The old economy charges $45 for a cab ride from the airport, while the new economy charges only $25. Something’s bound to break, and right now it’s the workers.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Pasco schools to close for second day — The start of the school year in Pasco will be delayed another day as teachers continue to strike and district administrators seek a court order to force them back to work.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane teachers, administration work to avoid strike — In an effort to avoid a strike less than a week into the new school year, representatives from the Spokane Education Association and Spokane Public Schools agreed to spend all today negotiating.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Everett teachers OK contract with nearly 8% pay raise — Teachers in the Everett School District voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to accept a new contract that will boost their salaries by nearly 8 percent in the next three years.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Strong pulp mill odor hanging over Longview area — The stench originates at KapStone… It’s not known whether the odor has any connection with the labor strike that began Thursday. A Longview resident said he started smelling the odor, which he likened to “terrible sulfur,” at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. KapStone resumed limited operations Monday.
ALSO at The Stand —AWPPW members strike at KapStone in Longview
► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma longshoremen from ILWU 23 trek to Eastern Washington to assist firefighters — ILWU 23 President Dean McGrath is leading a group of 17 union members who have volunteered to assist firefighters and residents suffering the worst wildfires in state history. And amid the devastation, fences are being mended. After a slowdown at Washington ports last winter, farmers and other growers east of the Cascades blamed the longshoremen, in part, for delays that resulted in ruined export crops.
► In today’s Columbian — Clark County Fire & Rescue lays off 11 firefighters, several more — Losing the contract for the largest city in that service area means Clark County Fire & Rescue will be forced into layoffs as it prepares to move out of Battle Ground’s only fire station by the end of the year.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Tell lawmakers ways to improve and fund public schools — Think you know the best means for the state to pay for public schools? A panel of state lawmakers will hear from parents, teachers, and taxpayers on how the state can meet its constitutional mandate to fully fund education without relying on local property tax levies. The seven-city tour begins Sept. 30 in Vancouver and ends Oct. 27 in Yakima.
ALSO at The Stand — Legislators are trying to manage, not solve, our state’s budget crisis (by John Burbank)
► In today’s (Aberdeen) Daily World — Hatfield leaving Legislature to work for Gov. Inslee — Longtime state Sen. Brian Hatfield (D-Raymond) announced that he is stepping down to work on rural economic development for Gov. Jay Inslee. Rep. Dean Takko (D-Longview) said he’s interested in getting appointed to fill Hatfield’s senate position, which represents a five-county area of Southwest Washington.
► In the Christian Science Monitor — Trumka vs. Trump: Labor leader warns that ‘racist’ rhetoric is dangerous — America’s leading spokesman for organized labor urged Donald Trump to back off from racially charged anti-immigrant rhetoric, and warned that the tone of Trump’s presidential campaign could damage not just the Republican Party but also the larger body politic.
► From Reuters — Trumka praises Biden but won’t say whether he should run — “He would be a good candidate. He would be a good president,” the AFL-CIO president said. “The next phase of his illustrious career in public service is a decision for him and for his family.”
► In today’s NY Times — How can America fight unfair work schedules? (reader Q&A) — The decline in union membership goes hand in hand with the rise of disadvantageous pay and scheduling practices. So it stands to reason that having a union would curtail unfair pay and scheduling practices, because unions offer a voice and a means to bargain for better pay and conditions.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Organize!
► From the Hill — Labor readies fall highway blitz — The International Brotherhood of Teamsters union is gearing up for an aggressive fall push to convince lawmakers to approve a long-term highway bill that has eluded transportation advocates for the better part of a decade. Federal funding for road and transit programs is set to expire on Oct. 29.
► In today’s Oregonian — Haggen sues Albertsons, alleging sabotage in store conversions — Haggen sued Albertsons Tuesday for more than $1 billion in damages, accusing the retail giant of deliberately sabotaging Haggen during the largest government-imposed grocery-store sale in U.S. history.
► In today’s NY Times — Union accused of betraying migrant carnival workers — Labor advocates say the new Association of Mobile Entertainment Workers is really a stalking-horse for industry, not a champion for laborers, many of whom come from Mexico. And instead of demanding that companies pay the carnival workers more, the advocates say the union deals assured the employers they would not have to do so.
► In the L.A. Times — This steel industry battle shows why unions are necessary (by Michael Hiltzik) — The conditions and pay offered non-union workers in Allegheny Technologies’ lockout of more than 2,000 union workers gives a glimpse of what conditions would be like in a non-unionized steel industry. It’s become fashionable among conservative politicians and ivory-tower pundits to say that real-world working conditions have made unions unnecessary or even obsolete… The company wants a sharp cutback on health and pension benefits for all new workers, a familiar trend in American business. New employees won’t get a defined benefit pension, only a 401k. The term for this is “race to the bottom.” The United Steelworkers are holding the line against this peculiar manifestation of gravity.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.