Wednesday, September 4, 2019
► In today’s Seattle Times — Tukwila teachers plan to strike Friday if they don’t reach agreement with district –For the second year in a row, a potential teachers strike could impact the first week of school for 3,000 Tukwila students. After months of negotiations with the Tukwila School District, the Tukwila Education Association (TEA) announced Tuesday it plans to strike Friday, two days after the school year begins, if the union’s bargaining team and the district cannot reach a compromise.
► From the American Prospect — Kaiser hospital workers mobilize for largest strike in two decades — In Hollywood, SEIU’s purple signs on Labor Day read “Fed Up with Kaiser Greed” and “Corporate Healthcare Is Failing Patients.” But in front of thousands of healthcare workers, activists and patients, Congresswoman Maxine Waters was even more direct. “Kaiser,” she shouted, “we’re not taking any more shit off of you! We’re not going to be nice anymore!”
More than 80,000 technicians, nurses, and medical personnel at Kaiser Permanente, organized through a coalition of several unions, including SEIU’s United Healthcare Workers division, have authorized a strike scheduled to begin in October. A whopping 98 percent of union members voted to walk out. If they go forward, it would be the largest strike in the U.S. since 1997, when 185,000 United Parcel Service workers walked off the job… Workers fronted rallies and marches in several cities where Kaiser operates on Labor Day, including Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, Oakland, and Sacramento.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Kaiser workers in Washington state are among those poised to strike.
► In today’s Seattle Times — It took 11 years, but Sound Transit officially breaks ground for Lynnwood light-rail line — It’s been 11 years since voters approved light-rail expansion in 2008. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for the line from Northgate to Lynnwood. New housing and commercial development will follow, plus 2,000 worker-years of union labor building the $2.8 billion, 8.5-mile track and four stations. After the line to Lynnwood is finished in five years, riders will reach downtown Seattle in 28 minutes.
EDITOR’S NOTE — These good jobs and progress on building Washington’s infrastructure — and economy — will be jeopardized once again by Tim Eyman’s latest car-tabs measure, Initiative 976. The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is urging union members and their families to vote NO on I-976. Learn more.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Kennewick has new $85M plan to expand convention center and add another hotel — The city on Tuesday approved a public-private partnership with an arm of A-1 Hospitality Group, a Kennewick hotel development firm headed by Taran Patel.
► From KING TV — Seattle may regulate side-hustle gigs like Uber, Lyft, food delivery apps — On Tuesday, Council member Teresa Mosqueda led a forum designed to show the concerns of people who have worked in the “gig industry,” which has been proliferated with companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, Caviar, Postmates, and more.
► In today’s Columbian — L&I extends comment period about overtime — The Department of Labor and Industries announced Tuesday that it has extended the public comment period for a proposed set of changes to the state’s rules for overtime-exempt salaried workers. The public comment cutoff was originally Sept. 6, but the department announced in a press release that it has moved the deadline to 11:59 p.m. Sept. 20.
ALSO at The Stand — Time is running out to restore overtime — 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. Get more information about the proposed rule.
► From the Stranger — Some business owners really don’t want to pay people for working overtime — In her testimony against L&I’s proposed overtime rule, Liberty Lake business owner Natalie Gauvin paraphrased Benjamin Franklin, saying she thinks the state should “keep the poor uncomfortable in their poor [sic] and then they’ll want to get out of it.” For the perfect dismount, she compared the minimum wage to “shackles,” and said other countries “in the western world” without minimum wage laws were “freer than us.” … Last month in Kennewick, Arlene’s Flowers owner Barronelle Stutzman, who lost a discrimination case after she refused to arrange flowers for a gay wedding in 2013, asked where she was “supposed to find more money” to pay workers. One imagines she might start by not turning away gay couples looking to buy flowers for their wedding.
► MUST-READ in today’s Seattle Times — Now corporate donors are abandoning Washington Rep. Matt Shea? They knew he was an extremist for years (by Danny Westneat) — Shea is under some official scrutiny now for palling around with extremist groups and fantasizing about waging a holy crusade to make everyone obey biblical law. But what rings so hollow about the belated corporate denunciations is that their lobbyists, for many years, have all known Shea is a far-right extremist with delusions of apocalyptic grandeur. They didn’t care — they gave him money anyway… It’s politics at its most transactional. It makes no difference to the companies if you’re a fringe religious zealot who imagines yourself carrying a sword into a new Christian civil war. If they imagine needing your vote on some matter, they’ll seek to influence it.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Reichert, happy at lobbying firm, passes on challenge to Inslee — He’s not running — again. Former Republican Rep. Dave Reichert says he’s happy with his job at a local lobbying firm and will not run for governor in 2020. It’s the latest in the semiregular ritual of electoral teases by Reichert.
► From Reuters — Boeing shuts 787 plant in South Carolina as hurricane approaches — Boeing suspended operations on Tuesday at the South Carolina plant where it assembles 787 widebody jetliners following evacuation orders for coastal areas threatened by powerful Hurricane Florence. The company did not have an estimate for when operations would resume.
► From KMUW — Spirit employees return to full work week after furlough — Some employees at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita returned to a full work week Friday after 10 weeks of furlough. The company announced in June it would reduce work weeks, and pay, as a way to cut costs as the Boeing 737 Max jet remains grounded. SPEEA said more than 70 percent of the union’s roughly 2,700 employees at Spirit were impacted by the furlough.
► From Truthout — As drivers protest, Trump’s NLRB sides with Uber and Lyft — As workers across the country prepared for a long Labor Day weekend, the NLRB quietly issued another blow to the increasingly powerful movement of ride-hail drivers and gig workers locked in a high-profile struggle with Uber, Lyft and other tech firms that hire millions of people as independent contractors. In a major win for employers, the NLRB ruled last Thursday that misclassifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees is not by itself illegal.
► MUST-READ from The Hill — NLRB exemplifies reactionary Trumpian administrative state (by Craig Becker) — What are the characteristics of the administrative state, remade in Trump’s image? For insight, look to the National Labor Relations Board. First, the agency is purely reactionary. It has no vision of how the law should promote healthy and productive labor relations, but seeks only to erase the recent past. Second, while Trump claims to speak for American workers, he has staffed the NLRB with longtime frontmen for their corporate employers. Third, despite the president’s rhetoric, his NLRB is not deregulating but, rather, selectively regulating — that is, regulating unions but not employers. Fourth, Trump’s NLRB has contempt for procedural norms and fairness… The ultimate result of these characteristics of the Trumpian administrative state is that laws are being used to silence and oppress the very people they were intended to protect — workers, borrowers, consumers.
► In the NY Post — Trudeau tweets thanks to Pelosi for ‘new NAFTA’ talk — The Canadian PM’s tweet came a day after Trump — on Labor Day — berated AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who told Fox News that unions would not back the administration’s proposal in its current form. “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 said.
► A related Swamp Update™ from the Washington Post — Days after leaving post, ex-Interior official who pushed drilling in Alaska takes oil company job — Joe Balash, who served as the Interior Department’s top official overseeing oil and gas leasing on federal land until Friday, is joining an oil firm that’s expanding drilling operations on Alaska’s North Slope.
► From Vox — Inside the shadowy think tank pushing to kick 3.1 million people off food stamps — The increasingly influential Foundation for Government Accountability is mixing sketchy research with legislative leverage — and it’s working.
► From HuffPost — McConnell rails against ‘Moscow Mitch’ nickname: It’s ‘over the top’
EDITOR’S NOTE — Memo to MM: This is not how you do it.
► In the Detroit Free Press — UAW authorizes strike; union targets General Motors first in contract talks — The UAW will seek to negotiate a contract with General Motors this fall as a template for talks with Detroit’s two other automakers, setting up a confrontation with a company that has angered workers with plans to idle four U.S. factories. UAW leadership made the decision, spokesman Brian Rothenberg said. Factory workers have said they feel angry and mistreated by the company since GM’s announcement of plant reductions in November.
► From Reuters — T-Mobile U.S. workers worry Sprint deal will mean job losses — T-Mobile US retail employees and technicians delivered a letter late Tuesday for Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges, seeking assurances that their jobs and paychecks will be safe if the wireless carrier is allowed to merge with Sprint, its smaller rival. T-Mobile United, with about 500 members and backed by the Communication Workers of America and the German union ver.di, urged Hoettges to “make solid and verifiable” assurances that jobs will be safe, paychecks will not shrink and management will not interfere in union activities.
► From the Phoenix New Times — Gannett confiscates pro-union Arizona Republic reporter’s work phone — A human resources representative for Gannett, the parent company of the Arizona Republic, confiscated the work phone of a reporter involved in a campaign to unionize the Phoenix newsroom, the reporter said on Facebook. Rebekah Sanders, who covers scams and bad business practices, claimed that a Gannett representative “interrogated” her about her “unionizing activity.” Afterward, Sanders said, the representative confiscated her work phone.
EDITOR’S NOTE — America: Land of the free.
NOTHING TO SEE HERE
► from Truthout — Alaska’s sea ice completely melted for first time in recorded history — July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth since record keeping began in 1880. Nine out of the 10 hottest Julys ever recorded have occurred since 2005, and July was the 43rd consecutive July to register temperatures above the 20th century average.
In Greenland, scientists were stunned by how rapidly the ice sheet is melting, as it was revealed the ice there was not expected to melt like this until 2070. The melt rate has been called “unprecedented,” as the all-time single-day melt record was broken in August as the ice sheet lost a mind-bending 12.5 billion tons of water in one day. It is worth remembering that the Greenland ice sheet contains enough ice to increase global sea levels by 20 feet, and it is now predicted that it will lose more ice this year than ever before. Also for the first time in recorded history, Alaska’s sea ice has melted completely away. That means there was no sea ice whatsoever within 150 miles of its shores, according to the National Weather Service, as the northernmost state cooked under record-breaking heat through the summer.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.