The Stand

State’s unions on the rise ● Fred Meyer hiring scabs ● Five big lies

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

 


LABOR DAY

 

► In the (Longview) Daily News — Hundreds of workers gather to relax, ‘thank a union’ at Labor Day picnic — Hundreds of other area workers celebrated their unions — and the advantages the groups provide — Monday during a Labor Day picnic at Haydu Park in Kalama. “The reason we have weekends, benefits … and all of the things we enjoy is because of unions,” said Mike Bridges, president of the Longview-Kelso Building Trades Council.

► In the Spokesman-Review — Union membership is growing again in Washington (by Shawn Vestal) — On this Labor Day, amid a longtime downward trend in national union membership and following a recent Supreme Court decision celebrated by union busters, it’s interesting to note that it’s a relatively good time for organized labor in Washington.

Union membership has been growing in this state for the past three years. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show an increase of 150,000 union members in Washington from 2016 to 2018, about a fifth of all workers in the state. That’s one of the highest rates in the country. A new report from the Washington State Labor Education and Research Center makes the case that union jobs are contributing to both workers’ and the overall health of the state in a variety of ways that go beyond the obvious matter of wages. And, as unions adapt to the needs of a younger generation of workers trying to negotiate the gig economy, public support is rising; A Gallup poll released last week showed 64% of Americans support labor unions, a rise of 16 percentage points since 2009. It is, in other words, not a bad time for labor.

► In the Seattle P-I — Labor is showing life — good news needed in a new Gilded Age (by Joel Connelly) — Unions drove a 1998 initiative that indexed our state’s minimum wage to inflation, and the 2016 initiative that is ramping up that wage to $13.50 by 2020. Unions (and Civic Action) are carrying the ball for a long-overdue rewrite of the state’s formula for overtime pay. We have, today, the third most unionized work force in an America where labor has fallen on hard times. Just under 20 percent of the state’s work force belongs to a union, up a tick from 2017 and twice the national percentage. We have an estimated 649,000 union members in the state.

► In the (Longview) Daily News — Unions: Growing gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ driving strike activity — “I think what’s different today than in years past is that we’ve had a period of sustained economic growth, but the gains have consistently gone to people at the top,” said WSLC spokesman David Groves. “Even though we are told that the economy is doing great and unemployment is low, most everyday working people are still struggling to meet their basic needs: housing, family (and) healthcare.”

► In the Columbian — Vancouver has long history of organized labor — Today, Vancouver’s union heritage continues to shape its culture and reputation. Even in the state of Washington — which has the third-highest percentage of unionized employees in the country, according to a report last week from the Washington State Labor Council — Vancouver stands apart.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Unions ARE growing in Washington state. Want a raise? Want respect at work? Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► In the NY Times — One of the most iconic photos of American workers is not what it seems — “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” has come to represent the country’s resilience, especially on Labor Day. But photo buffs know the truth behind the classic photo: It was staged. The men in the picture were real ironworkers. They did build the structure that is now the 22nd tallest building in New York City and home to NBC studios. But rather than capture them in the midst of their lunch break, the photographer posed them on the beam for multiple takes — images that were intended as advertising for the new building. Some historians believe there was a sturdy level of the structure, then called the RCA building, just below the frame.

► From Vice — Young people are driving a new labor movement

 


LOCAL

 

► In the (Longview) Daily News — Grocery union blasts new Fred Meyer contract offer, moves toward strike — The union representing Oregon and Southwest Washington grocery store workers (UFCW 555) angrily rejected the latest contract offer by Fred Meyer and other stores in a months-long labor dispute that is on the verge of a strike. In another development Friday, Fred Meyer indicated that it is preparing for a strike and will start the process to hire temporary workers.

► From Eastbay Majority — Kaiser workers set to strike for better patient care and working conditions — Kaiser Permanente made $5.2 billion in profits in the first half of this year and pays its CEO Bernard Tyson $16 million a year. Despite mushrooming profits, Kaiser wants to establish a two-tier wage system that would weaken unions. On Sept. 2, thousands of union members who work at Kaiser Permanente flooded the streets of Oakland, Los Angeles, and Sacramento to rally against Kaiser’s greed. Kaiser’s contract with the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions expires on Sept. 30, and over 80,000 workers in six states (including Washington) are prepared to go on strike in early October.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Leader of powerful union comes straight out of the classroom — For the first time in his career, Larry Delaney won’t be in a classroom when students arrive for the new school year. After 26 years of teaching social studies and math at Lakewood High School, Delaney is taking on a slightly different role in education this fall. He’s the new president of the Washington Education Association, the politically muscular statewide union of public school teachers. It’s a job in which he’ll be relied on to communicate the hopes, aspirations and demands of tens of thousands of classroom instructors to school board members, lawmakers and the governor.

► In the Kitsap Sun — Puget Sound Naval Shipyard surges with a wave of new hires — Bill George is part of a new generation of shipyard workers at Kitsap County’s largest employer, a wave of hires this decade designed to meet the increasing maintenance needs of a busier, yet aging, Navy fleet. Almost 10,000 people have been hired at the shipyard since 2010, and George counts himself among 44 percent of the shipyard workforce that has been hired in the last five years.

► In the Tri-City Herald — Hanford nuclear waste report comes up short, say experts — Not enough is known to decide on the best and most economical way to treat much of the low-activity radioactive waste in Hanford’s underground tanks, said a committee of the National Academies of Sciences. Still, a decision may need to be made soon to be ready to treat the waste on schedule, it said.

 


THIS WASHINGTON

 

► In the Tri-City Herald — Our time has value — it’s time to restore overtime protections (by Kenneth Buxton) — The reality is that my industry has exploited managers as cheap labor for decades now. And though I’ve worked hard and devoted my personal time to improving my skills, my degree might put me in a worse position than when I started. I want to be able to buy a home, be present to raise my son, and contribute to my community. Without a restored overtime threshold, my dedication and hard work could mean I lose quality time with my family in exchange for long, unpaid hours at the hotel.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Time is running out to restore overtime — The deadline for submitting comments in support of the state Department of Labor and Industries’s (L&I) proposed rule to restore overtime protections is this Friday, Sept. 6. Civic Action has set up a one-click web form for you to submit a comment of support, or you can email comments to EAPrules@Lni.wa.gov. Please take a moment to submit your comments in support of the rule TODAY!

► In today’s Seattle Times — As state Republicans struggle to field 2020 candidates, Reichert eyes run for governor — The former seven-term congressman from Auburn “is considering” a return to politics with a challenge of Inslee for governor in 2020, said state Republican Party Chairman Caleb Heimlich, adding “he’s certainly not running at this point.”

► From The Stranger — The GOP is recruiting Dave Reichert to run for governor, but he likes his lobbyist job too much to jump in — After the news broke, Reichert’s team said “he likes his new job with a private government affairs firm,” which means he probably won’t run. Reichert is a lobbyist with Gordon Thomas Honeywell, and now represents “various clients.”

► In today’s Seattle Times — Some corporate donors turn away from Rep. Matt Shea after controversies — In recent years, political-action committees and large corporations have funded the bulk of Washington state Rep. Matt Shea’s reelection campaigns. Perhaps unwittingly, those donors have bankrolled a campaign operation used by the Spokane Valley Republican to air his far-right views on a regular radio program, advance plans to secede from Washington by forming a 51st state, even travel to “anti-terrorism” training.

 


THAT WASHINGTON

 

► In the Seattle Times — Is President Trump a friend to American workers? (by IFPTE President Paul Shearon) — Back in 2016, Trump campaigned for the presidency as a friend of American workers. “The blue-collar billionaire” pledged to raise the minimum wage and bring jobs back to our shores. But Trump’s actual labor record has been one of stagnant wages, lost jobs and pervasive attack on workplace rights.

► From The Hill — AFL-CIO head: Unions aren’t ready to back ‘unenforceable’ North American trade deal — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Sunday said that unions are not ready to back the White House’s “unenforceable” replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), despite President Trump’s claims. “If Mexico can’t enforce their own agreement, this agreement will never work because their wages will be artificially low and they will suck jobs and capital out of the United States,” Trumka told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace of the proposed United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA). “An unenforceable trade deal is a windfall for corporations and a disaster for workers,” he added.

ALSO from the AFL-CIO — Add your name: No vote on NAFTA until it is fixed

► From Vox — Trump wants to cut taxes for rich people yet again — On Friday, Trump hinted at a policy change that his administration has been weighing for at least a year: using presidential power to unilaterally lower taxes for investors.

► In the NY Times — Labor unions, like voters, are waiting to pick a 2020 favorite — Despite years of pummeling by GOP-controlled legislatures that have sought to weaken their power, unions are still viewed by Democrats as an important constituency: A Gallup poll conducted in August found that 82 percent of Democrats approve of unions. And beyond the seal of validation endorsements afford, union members still play a critical role in canvassing voters and mustering them to the polls.

► From The Onion — Democrats launch new ‘Listen Up, Hayseeds’ campaign to connect with rural voters — “Hey, you redneck simpletons, put down your whittling sticks, drag yourself away from the Cracker Barrel, and let us tell you how it is,” said a team of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on the debut commercial.

 


NATIONAL

 

► From National Catholic Reporter — U.S. Catholic Church must repair its relationship with organized labor (by Michael Sean Winters) — No two institutions are more committed intellectually and morally to solidarity in our society which suffers from such an obvious deficit of solidarity. No two institutions have a prouder tradition of standing up to the moneyed interests. Their future together could be very bright. A future without such collaboration would be dimmer for both. Solidarity forever needs to become more than a song or a mantra. It needs to become the modus Vivendi for our society and, if it does, it will be because organized labor and the Catholic Church will have renewed their organic bonds.

► From The Hill — Public’s view of drug companies sinks to record low in Gallup poll — The poll finds that 27 percent of the public has a positive view of the industry, compared to 58 percent with a negative view, for a net rating of negative 31 points, a record low.

 


TODAY’S MUST-READ

 

► From YouTube — Robert Reich: The 5 biggest corporate lies about unions — Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich debunks the biggest myths about unions spread by corporations.

 


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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