Wednesday, August 21, 2019
► From WFSE — Washington unions rising despite last year’s SCOTUS decision — More than a year after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling some thought would deal a major blow to unions, the organizations show no signs of slowing down in Washington state. Union membership in the Evergreen State actually grew in 2018 — part of a trend that began in 2014. Representation is now close to 20% of the workforce, making Washington the third-most unionized state in the country.
ALSO at The Stand:
— Freedom Foundation keeps spending, failing (by Peter Starzynski, June 18, 2019) — One year after Janus, the right-wing group’s plan to destroy unions in Washington and along the West Coast is a complete failure. In fact, its backfiring on them.
— Unions in Washington state post big membership gains (Jan. 18, 2019) — With an additional 65,000 workers joining the ranks last year, there are now an estimated 649,000 union members in Washington, making it the third most unionized state in the nation.
► From KOMO News — New report ranks Washington state’s community colleges as best in U.S. — The new report ranked hundreds of U.S. schools based on 19 different criteria, including costs, efficiency, retention rates, graduation rates and career outcomes. When all of the criteria were counted up, Washington state’s community college system had the highest average score of any state.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane mayor, police chief say state Rep. Matt Shea is unfit for office — Mayor David Condon and Chief Craig Meidl denounced the Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) on Tuesday, joining local activists and Spokane City Council members in calling for his removal from the Legislature. Leaked emails showed that Shea collected “intelligence” on Council President Ben Stuckart, Councilman Breean Beggs and Councilwoman Lori Kinnear, among others.
► From The Stranger — Will Jay Inslee run for a third term as Governor? Probably. (by Rich Smith) — He hasn’t ruled out the possibility of seeking a third term, and—according to a few anonymous consultants—he doesn’t look like a guy who’s ready to hang up the keys yet. You can’t look millions of people in the eye and tell them that you’re going to do everything you can to fix climate change and then retire from government to lobby for a solar panel company.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing will hire hundreds of temporary employees at Moses Lake as it prepares for 737 MAX’s return to service — The company, which will provide paid housing and a meal allowance for the temporary hires, is looking for avionics technicians, aircraft mechanics, airframe and engine mechanics, and aircraft electricians. The marshaling of resources indicates Boeing’s confidence that the FAA could grant approval to fly passengers on the 737 MAX again in little more than two months from now. Boeing said it will post the temporary job openings at jobs.boeing.com, searchable by the Moses Lake location. These new hires will supplement Boeing permanent employees at the site.
► In today’s Columbian — La Center teachers protest before negotiating — Contract talks got off to a slightly delayed start Tuesday in La Center as teachers gathered in a show of force in the lead-up to talks. La Center School District teachers voted 75-1 on Thursday to strike if a new contract isn’t reached by the first day of school on Aug. 28. The two sides have been bargaining since early June.
► In the (Longview) Daily News — State Court of Appeals judges uphold DNR’s denial of Millennium sublease — Millennium Bulk Terminals years-long proposal to build a coal terminal in Longview received another blow Tuesday after a state appeals court sided with the state Department of Natural Resources’ 2017 decision to deny the company a sublease needed to build a dock in the Columbia River.
► From AP — Wage hike may end Washington state firm’s blueberry harvest — A mandated wage increase for Washington state blueberry pickers may cause one fruit company to end its harvest early, a report said. Zirkle Fruit Company of Selah said its season may be ended prematurely by a 50% wage increase ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor.
EDITOR’S NOTE — As the Capital Press reports, Zirkle received a DOL notice in July that the state’s prevailing wage for blueberry harvest had increased from 50 cents to 75 cents per pound based on state Employment Security Department wage surveys. These prevailing wage rates are established to keep growers from exploiting the federal H-2A agricultural guestworker program to suppress wage rates. Zirkle hired 4,169 H-2A workers for tree fruit and blueberries in 2018, up 40% from the year before, according to DOL.
► A related story in today’s Yakima H-R — Zirkle to end apple packing operations in Prosser — Zirkle Fruit Co. will close its apple packing operation in Prosser, which will lead to about 300 workers losing jobs starting in October, the company said Tuesday. Zirkle will consolidate its apple packing operation at its Selah facility.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Postal Service employees ‘are the hardest working group’ (letter by David Yao) — The Postal Service is viewed favorably by 84% of the public, the highest rating of any federal agency, according to the Pew Research Center. This trust has been earned since its inception in 1775, despite the recent chorus of anti-government rhetoric from ideologues.
► In today’s NY Times — Trump administration rule would allow immigrant families to be held indefinitely — The Trump administration unveiled a regulation on Wednesday that would allow it to detain indefinitely migrant families who cross the border illegally, replacing a decades-old court agreement that imposed a limit on how long the government could hold migrant children in custody and specified the level of care they must receive… Withdrawing from the consent decree has also been a personal objective for Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s immigration policy. Delays in finishing the new regulation had prompted Miller to lash out at senior homeland security officials, who were ousted from the department.
EDITOR’S NOTE — “Stephen Miller is a white nationalist,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) previously tweeted. “The fact that he still has influence on policy and political appointments is an outrage.” This is the guy who was the “mastermind” behind the Muslim travel ban and Trump’s child separation policy.
► From Politico — Trump team braces GOP donors for a potential ‘moderate and short’ recession — At a fundraising luncheon this week in Jackson, Wyo., headlined by both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged the risks of recession to the GOP elite behind closed doors. If the U.S. were to face a recession, it would be “moderate and short,” Mulvaney told roughly 50 donors.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, while wealthy political donors get the real heads-up, here’s what the general public gets today via Twitter…
The Fake News LameStream Media is doing everything possible the “create” a U.S. recession, even though the numbers & facts are working totally in the opposite direction. They would be willing to hurt many people, but that doesn’t matter to them. Our Economy is sooo strong, sorry!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019
► In today’s Washington Post — Here are eight reasons to be skeptical of Trump’s payroll tax cut talk — Trump’s significant history of failing to follow through with his own plans, and falling short of his own metrics of success for economic stewardship, should cast serious doubt about a payroll tax cut’s viability.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Why aren’t we seeing infrastructure projects? Tax cuts (by Froma Harrop) — How can these Senate Republicans say that, gee, they want better roads, bridges and ports, but their constituents can’t have them because of soaring deficits largely caused by the tax cuts they voted for? Easy. They deny nearly every reputable economist’s conclusion that the tax cuts put America in a very deep fiscal hole.
► From The Hill — Sanders unveils plan to double union membership in first term — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unveiled his “Workplace Democracy” plan aimed at doubling union membership in his first term and boosting middle class wages.
► In today’s Washington Post — SEIU has an ambitious new plan for workers’ rights. Democratic candidates should take notice. (by Helaine Olen) — SEIU President Mary Kay Henry has outlined a new, ambitious pro-union and worker’s rights agenda called “Unions for All.” She expects Democratic candidates to sign on and support it if they would like the coveted SEIU endorsement. It consists of four demands:
- That workers be allowed to organize and bargain across geographies, industries and occupations.
- That federal labor laws be the floor and not the ceiling when it comes to union protections.
- That all recipients of government contracts agree to pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour and have what Henry calls “a real opportunity to form a union.”
- And that union jobs need to be at “the center of any major effort to fix our economy,” including programs such as the Green New Deal.
► From The Hill — Strike looming for airline caterers? — Airline Catering Worker and UNITE HERE Local 23 Member Tenae Stover breaks down the latest in flight catering strike.
ALSO at The Stand — Airline food workers vote by 99.7% to strike (June 13, 2019) — Airline food workers who prepare, pack, and deliver food and beverages served onboard Alaska, American, United, and other airlines on flights departing from Sea-Tac International Airport voted by a 99.7 percent majority to strike when released by the National Mediation Board. The strike vote at Sea-Tac was part of the largest such vote ever to occur in the U.S. airline catering industry, with thousands of workers voting in 21 cities.
► In today’s Washington Post — Corporate panic about capitalism could be a turning point (by David Ignatius) — “Evolve or die,” wrote hedge-fund billionaire Ray Dalio in a manifesto published in April titled “Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed.” With each passing month, more business executives have been joining this unlikely crusade to save capitalism from itself. The loudest reform call yet from inside the system came this week from the Business Roundtable, which represents the chief executives of 192 of the nation’s largest companies. Most of its members signed a statement declaring that making profits for shareholders isn’t a corporation’s sole responsibility. Instead, companies have a broader mission to serve customers, employees, suppliers and communities, too.
► In the Buffalo News — Spot Coffee workers vote to form a union; campaign called ‘groundbreaking’ — Spot Coffee employees have voted, 43-6, to form a union, making them some of the only barista workers in the country with union representation.
► From Vox — DoorDash is still pocketing workers’ tips, almost a month after it promised to stop — It’s been almost a month since the delivery company promised workers it would offer details about its new tipping policy “in the coming days.”
► In the Minneapolis Star-Tribune — Del Monte to close Sleepy Eye plant; will layoff all workers — It will permanently close the 89-year-old Minnesota facility as part of a broader decision by Del Monte’s parent company, Singapore-based Del Monte Pacific Limited, to sell or close many of its U.S. assets.
► From Bloomberg — Amazon opens its largest campus building anywhere, in India — Amazon.com Wednesday opened its largest campus building globally in the south Indian city of Hyderabad as it prepares for a furious expansion and battle with nemesis Walmart in one of the world’s fastest-growing retail markets.
► From the NYC CLC — Meet the 2019 NYC Labor Day parade grand marshal: Elizabeth Shuler — As a graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism, Elizabeth (Liz) Shuler, like many young people today, pieced together part-time jobs, lived at home and struggled to find decent work in the early 1990s. Experiencing uncertainty in the economy made her realize that every job is an opportunity to stand up for the underdog. Today, as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, the second-highest position in the labor movement, Shuler serves as the chief financial officer of the federation and oversees operations. Shuler is the first woman elected as the federation’s secretary-treasurer, holding office since 2009.
► From On Labor — Making bad law worse: The inequity of the NLRB’s Walmart decision (by Sharon Block) — Section 13 of the National Labor Relations Act says that “[n]othing in this Act shall be construed so as to interfere with or impede or diminish in any way the right to strike.” The Supreme Court has instructed that this protection should be given a “generous interpretation.” For a long time, however, the law governing strikes has been quite ungenerous as applied to intermittent strikes. The Trump NLRB just made the problem worse in its recent decision in a Walmart case. The burden of this trend in the law has the potential to diminish the right to strike to a vanishing point for many low-wage workers, especially those in the retail and fast food sectors. Because low-wage workers are disproportionately people of color, fixing the law in this area is a matter of racial equity.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.