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Alaska ferry strike ● ‘I’m their teacher’ ● Inslee’s labor plan ● Winning at the airports

Tuesday, July 30, 2019




► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Alaska ferry strike talks drag on. Here’s what the stoppage could mean for Bellingham. — As Alaska state ferries remain docked because of a strike, it’s still a wait-and-see situation for communities like Bellingham. It’s been nearly a week since the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific workers went on strike, idling a system that included regular ferry runs to Alaska from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. Representatives with the Alaska Department of Administration and union officials met over the weekend with a federal mediator, but it is unclear how those negotiations went.

► In the (Longview) Daily News — Kelso-Longview grocery workers to take strike authorization vote this week — The local members of a regional union representing grocery store workers will take a strike authorization vote Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a union effort to increase pressure for pay raises… Nearly 600 Kelso-Longview grocery store workers are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, a union in the midst of year-long contract negotiations with Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertsons and QFC stores. The union is asking for pay raises, but the companies are offering a “vastly different” boost in wages, said UFCW 555 spokeswoman Kelley McAllister.

ALSO at The Stand — Portland grocery workers OK strike; SW Wash. could be next

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Farmworker killed when orchard tractor rolls in Franklin County — Jorda Jarquin-Hernandez, 28, was driving an orchard tractor in area between the Pasco-Kahlotus Highway and the Snake River near Ice Harbor Dam at the time of the accident. The tractor rolled about 5:30 a.m. and Jarquin-Hernandez was thrown off, the tractor rolled and he died at the scene, according to police.

► From KGW8-NBC — MLB to Portland group expects to meet with MLB commissioner in next two months — Portland Diamond Project announced Monday it will allow employees who work at Portland’s future ballpark to organize and join a union, and provided an update on the group’s effort to bring a Major League Baseball team to Portland.During Monday’s press conference, PDP also signed a labor peace agreement with the Oregon AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions.




► In the Seattle Times — ‘Basically I’m their teacher’: Washington has big plans for its 25,500 school paraeducators — More commonly known as teacher’s aides or classroom assistants, paraeducators earn about half the salary of the average teacher in the Evergreen State. And yet, more and more, schools here and across Washington are relying on these workers to help mitigate a chronic teacher shortage. It’s for that reason the state has eyed paraeducators as potential teacher recruits. Developing that pipeline would not only help stanch a growing number of classroom vacancies — it also would improve diversity, alleviating the problem of a mostly white teaching force that doesn’t look like its students.

► From the AP — House hires outside firm to investigate a member — The Washington state House on Monday hired a firm to investigate whether a member has engaged in, planned or promoted political violence and to determine the extent of his involvement with groups or people involved with such activities. The chief clerk of the House signed a contract with Kathy Leodler, a former FBI agent who is head of the Rampart Group, to investigate Rep. Matt Shea. The firm will produce a preliminary report by Sept. 30 and a final report to the House by Dec. 1. The contract notes that the report will also “assess the level of threat of political violence posed by these individuals and groups.”

► In the Seattle Times — WSDOT says it lost confidence in contractor’s ability to start Highway 99 tunnel tolls on schedule — The state misses $1 million in tunnel revenue each month of delay. Toll-division staff don’t want to wait much longer before they begin fulfilling the Legislature’s mandate that tolls defray $200 million in construction costs.

► In the News Tribune — Tacoma psychiatric hospital approval could be delayed over land-use complications — A proposed 105-bed behavioral health hospital in Tacoma to be operated by Signature Healthcare Services of Corona, California, is awaiting final rezoning and permit approvals from the city. It might take awhile.

► In the News Tribune — Eyman, seen on video taking chair from Lacey Office Depot, settles theft charge — Anti-tax crusader Tim Eyman has reached a settlement on the charges that he stole a $70 rolling chair from a Lacey Office Depot earlier this year. The agreement means that the theft charge will be dismissed if Eyman doesn’t commit any crimes and stays away from the Office Depot for nine months.




► From HuffPost — White House contender Jay Inslee rolls out a plan to restore unions, boost wages — Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee is unveiling a plan he touts as a way to revive U.S. unions and increase worker bargaining power after decades of decline. And he asserts that his experience implementing progressive and labor-friendly policies as governor of Washington gives him the experience to make that happen on a national scale. His state’s story “absolutely blows up (President) Donald Trump’s trickle-down theory of economics,” Inslee, who first won the governor’s office in 2012, told HuffPost via phone. “If you adopt worker-friendly policies, it is the key to economic growth. We have a middle-out strategy…  and our economy is absolutely screaming with growth.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Inslee delivered this message last Thursday at the WSLC Convention.

► From the AP — All House Democrats from Wash. support impeachment inquiry — Reps. Kim Schrier, Suzan DelBene, Derek Kilmer, and Denny Heck on Sunday cited corruption, obstruction of justice and failure to protect elections from foreign interference as justifications for an impeachment inquiry, which would be a first step in a lengthy process. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray also voiced support for an inquiry.

► From Vox — New GDP data confirms Trump’s tax cuts aren’t working (by Matthew Yglesias) — The economy slowed down in the second quarter of 2019, according to the latest release of economic data from the Commerce Department — a fact that says less about an impending economic downturn than it does about the way President Donald Trump’s promised supply-side supercharging of growth hasn’t materialized. In addition to the growth rate slowing to 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2019, government statisticians also revised downward their previous estimates of 2018 growth.

► In the Detroit Free Press — NAFTA needs more than facelift proposed by Trump (by Sander Levin and Harley Shaiken) — Democrats will be meeting for the second round of presidential debates in Detroit next week. . The Motor City and environs are at the epicenter of anxiety and anger among many workers and their families over job and pay losses related to trade. The United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) with which the Trump administration hopes to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)will likely make an appearance on the debate stage.

ALSO at The Stand — Making sense of NAFTA and its replacement (by Stan Sorscher)

► From CBS News — Can union members stomach Medicare for All? — Many of the nearly 15 million union members across the country, likes the insurance they have now. And union members remain a core Democratic constituency, particularly in the Rust Belt states Trump flipped in 2016.  But some within the party say that embracing “Medicare for All,” which would eradicate most forms of private insurance, will alienate the union rank-and-file that Democrats have long counted on in pivotal states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.




► From the Payday Report — Harlan County coal miners block train tracks as dispute intensifies — In a sign of growing labor tension in Harlan County, Kentucky, over 60 coal miners today blocked a coal train from leaving the Cloverluck mine owned by Blackjewel. In early July, Blackjewel, which employs over 1,700 miners nationwide filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Without notice from the company, workers’ paycheck bounced this much with some workers being owed as much as $3,000 or $4,000.




► From Salon — This summer as you hurry into the airport, know that it’s a workplace war-zone—and labor is winning —  After years of decline in the American union movement, there is evidence of a revival within the transportation sector, particularly at the airlines. The turnabout is notable because it’s widely believed that it was President Ronald Reagan’s mass firing of striking Air Traffic Controllers in 1981 that helped accelerate labor’s diminishing influence. In the early 1950s, at the height of its power the union movement represented 34.8 percent of the nation’s workforce. According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, this year it represents 10.5 percent. Nowhere was that retrenchment felt more strongly than in the transportation sector, which in the past, along with the utilities and telecommunications industries, were the most-unionized in the private sector. Last year, the Transport Workers Union of America prevailed in a National Mediation Board election and won the right to represent 5,000 flight attendants with JetBlue. The parent union of TWU Local 100 had already represented 14,000 airline mechanics across the country.


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