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Prison safety, ‘training wages,’ silica rule, we gently weep…

Friday, April 22, 2016




ibt-117-doc-video_front► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Despite reforms, Washington prison workers still feel unsafe — The murder of a Monroe corrections officer in 2011 incited Washington to develop and deploy the nation’s most comprehensive approach to improving the safety of prison staff. But even with added security cameras, upgraded equipment and revised practices since Jayme Biendl’s death, more than half of those working inside Washington’s 12 prisons do not actually feel safer, according to findings in a performance audit presented to state lawmakers Wednesday. And the mood is most dour at the Monroe Correctional Complex where only a third reported feeling safer now and 85 percent don’t think it will be safer in the near future. “I think the survey was spot-on with what we’re hearing,” said Michelle Woodrow, president and director of corrections and law enforcement for Teamsters Local 117 which represents correctional officers. “Our members are echoing what the auditors said.”

► Call to Action from WFSE — Stand with Special Commitment Center members! — The Special Commitment Center wants to require 18 security guards to fight fires at $10 a fire. Ten bucks a fire is insulting! Call DSHS Secretary Pat Lashway at (360) 902-7800 and demand a safe workplace with professional firefighters that are trained and paid for life-saving work on McNeil Island.




lobbyists-training-wage► From The Stranger — Workers challenge restaurant lobby’s initiative to create sub-minimum ‘training wages’ in court — Low-wage workers say a new initiative to establish a hourly $9.50 training wage — filed late last month by the Washington Restaurant Association, the lobbying group representing fast food chains like McDonald’s and Subway — isn’t accurately labeled. Tomorrow, a judge in Thurston County will consider a legal challenge brought by the workers to change the initiative’s language from “training wage” to “subminimum wage.”

► From Fast Company — After a year, Seattle’s new minimum wage hasn’t raised retail prices — Researchers from the University of Washington presented data that showed “little or no evidence” of price increases in most sectors. Before the minimum wage law took effect, most retailers said they would have to charge more — and most low-wage workers were worried that they would have to spend more for necessities. So far, that hasn’t happened.




silica-dust► From KPLU — UW workplace expert says new federal rule on silica exposure is ‘way overdue’ — There’s so much construction underway in the Puget Sound region right now, but it’s easy to forget that the workers face significant safety risks. One of those risks comes from small sand particles known as silica that can lodge in workers’ lungs. In June, a tougher federal rule on silica exposure is set to take effect. It’s taken more than 40 years for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a more stringent rule on how much silica exposure is allowed to happen at work sites.

► From the Western Front — Lawyer: WWU defies labor law — The unpaid training courses required of students working in advising positions on Western Washington University’s campus do not appear to be following the federal and Washington state labor laws, said a Seattle-based attorney specializing in wage-and-hour law.

wwu-driscoll-boycott-costco► From the Western Front — WWU students boycott Driscoll berries outside Costco — Western Washington University students and community members held a protest outside Costco on Monday, urging shoppers and the store to boycott Driscoll’s Berries and Sakuma Brothers for their reputation of mistreatment toward farmworkers.

► From The Stranger — Tim Eyman declares war on Sound Transit — again — While his latest offering, Initiative 1421, doesn’t mention the words “Sound Transit,” Eyman’s intent is clear. The initiative would cap car-tab fees at $30 statewide. Today, those fees vary across the state and are higher in Seattle and the surrounding area because of an added fee that helps fund Sound Transit.

► From KUOW — Tesoro’s Anacortes refinery fined for federal violations — The Environmental Protection Agency wants the refinery to pay about $720,000 for safety violations that were spotted during an inspection five years ago. According to the EPA, accident prevention plans for workers handling chemicals were not clear.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing to offer buyouts to 200 South Carolina workers — Boeing plans voluntary layoffs among engineering employees at its North Charleston, S.C., complex. The cuts would be the first such reduction for the North Charleston complex. In the Puget Sound region, Boeing has begun cuts expected to eliminate 4,000 jobs, and at least one unit has targeted a 10 percent cut, according to an internal document obtained by The Seattle Times. Across Boeing’s local workforce, such a cut would amount to 8,000 jobs.

Boeing-McNerney-champagneALSO at The Stand — Jim McNerney’s Boeing legacy: $29 billion in unpaid 787 bills (by David Groves)




► From Politico — Ryan says he doesn’t have the votes to pass a budget — Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday said he does not have enough GOP support to pass a budget, something he once called the basic function of governing when he was House Budget chairman. When Democrats failed to pass budgets while they were in the majority, Republicans pilloried them for failing to do their job.




uber-stock► In today’s NY Times — Uber settles case with concessions, but drivers stay freelancers — The company reached a settlement in a pair of class-action lawsuits in California and Massachusetts that will let it continue to categorize drivers in those states as independent contractors — a landmark agreement that could have lasting implications for the long-term viability of the ride-hailing service.

► From Huffington Post — The legal problem that could crash Uber — If Uber’s drivers are really independent contractors like the company claims, it could be breaking a whole different set of laws: The antitrust statutes that protect consumers from corporate collusion.

► From The Guardian — Airbnb’s controversial deal with labor union falls apart after intense backlash — Discussions between Airbnb and the SEIU fell apart in the face of criticism from other labor unions that represent hotel workers as well as the SEIU’s own members.




► Words can’t describe…

R.I.P. Prince Rogers Nelson.


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