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Willapa strike update ● Boeing hearing ● ‘Inhumane’ at Amazon

Wednesday, December 11, 2019





WILLAPA VALLEY STRIKE UPDATE — Classes are cancelled again today in Day 8 of the strike by the Willapa Valley teachers in Pacific County. As mediated negotiations continue, the Willapa Valley Education Association is keeping its picket line running from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in front of the district office / high school at 22 Viking Way in Raymond. Any support on the picket line and/or donations for the strike fund would be greatly appreciated. Also, call the school district at 360-942-5855 and ask them to agree to a fair contract that settles the strike so that kids can get back to the classroom. For the latest, visit the WVEA Facebook page.

Donate to the strike fund by sending checks to: Willapa Valley EA c/o WEA Chinook, 5220 Capitol Blvd. SE, Tumwater, WA 98501-4419

► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — Willapa teacher strike doesn’t slow down Food Bowl — Willapa Valley schools were closed for a seventh day Tuesday due to a teachers strike. The district and the Willapa Valley Education Association met with a mediator starting at 10 a.m. The district’s Holiday Music Concert scheduled for Wednesday has also been canceled and athletic events were rescheduled to be away from home. The high school’s Associated Student Body is still planning to hold Food Bowl activities this week to raise donations for local food banks.

► In today’s Seattle Times — New Seasons Ballard to close, Metropolitan Market taking over Mercer Island store in grocery merger — Portland-based New Seasons Market said it is closing the Ballard grocery store it opened less than two years ago and abandoning a controversial plan to anchor a Central District development project. Metropolitan Market, a Seattle chain begun in 1971 with seven current locations around the area, will take over New Seasons’ Mercer Island store by mid-2020.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — As New Seasons store closes, UFCW 21 acts to help workers — UFCW 21 is rallying local labor and community organizations to assist any laid-off New Seasons workers by helping them receive job placement services, access to retraining, and emergency funds for any families experiencing hardship as a result of the closure this holiday season. The WSLC will help laid-off workers navigate state and federal programs available to assist with finding new jobs and training opportunities.

► From Crosscut — ‘We just want to work’: Washington farmworkers say enough to sexual assault — A yearlong investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting that included the Yakima Valley found that supervisors often remained on the job for years after accusations. In 41 federal sexual harassment lawsuits against agricultural companies, almost 85% of the workers reporting the harassment faced retaliation… A new bilingual curriculum targets Washington growers and farm managers in stopping harassment.




► From Bloomberg — FAA won’t clear 737 MAX fixes until 2020, agency chief says — U.S. government approvals needed to return Boeing’s 737 MAX to the skies won’t be completed until 2020, the top U.S. aviation regulator said Wednesday, dashing the company’s hopes to complete key milestones this year needed to end the aircraft’s nine-month grounding.

► From the Seattle Times — LIVE: FAA chief, Boeing whistleblower, others testify in Congress


► In today’s Wall St. Journal — FAA review saw high risk of Boeing 737 MAX crashes — U.S. regulators allowed Boeing’s 737 MAX to keep flying after its first fatal crash last fall despite their own analysis indicating the airliner could become one of the most accident-prone jets in decades without design changes.

► In today’s Seattle Times — FAA engineers objected to Boeing’s removal of some 787 lightning protection measures — Boeing’s design change, which reduces costs for the company and its airline customers, sped through despite firm objections raised by the agency’s own technical experts, who saw an increased risk of an explosion in the fuel tank inside the wing.

► In today’s Washington Post — FAA to create new safety branch following Boeing 737 MAX crashes




► From Politico Magazine — Can the Republican Party save one of its last Latina congresswomen? — Moderate and publicity-deflecting by nature, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is an outlier in a party dominated by a president whose combative style and divisive policies have alienated Hispanics and suburban women. For that very reason, Herrera Beutler’s profile — female, Hispanic and one of a dwindling number of Republican representatives from the West Coast — makes her a precious asset for the GOP, which has seen its female ranks in the House slashed by almost half since 2011. She is such a rare specimen within her caucus that party leadership has essentially given her permission to diverge where necessary from the party line.

► In today’s Columbian — Health exchange open enrollment window closing — The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is nearing the end of its open enrollment period to sign up for health and dental plans for 2020. The Exchange will remain open through 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

► In today’s Olympian — Pierce County Council wades into car-tab fray, will help defend I-976 in court — The Pierce County Council voted 4-3 along party lines Tuesday to intervene and defend I-976 in the lawsuit brought against the so-called $30 car tab initiative.




► In today’s Washington Post — Winners and losers in the final USMCA deal — Winners: Labor — Labor unions, especially AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, really pushed hard here. Trump’s top trade negotiator consulted them frequently during the original USMCA deal in 2018, and unions stood their ground in 2019 to force even more favorable provisions to ensure U.S. jobs don’t flee quickly to Mexico. The result is that the USMCA is expected to create 176,000 new jobs in the United States, and labor rights are poised to expand in Mexico. A committee will monitor Mexico’s progress, and if the nation fails to achieve certain benchmarks, there will be punitive action.

ALSO at The Stand — AFL-CIO endorses USMCA after negotiating labor improvements

► In today’s Columbian — USMCA a victory, especially in this Washington (editorial) — An agreement on the new trade deal appears to be a victory for American workers.

► From Politico — Pelosi: ‘We ate their lunch’ on trade deal — Nancy Pelosi sat Mexico’s top trade negotiator and foreign minister down in her office and gave the two men an ultimatum. It was late September, and Democrats feared Mexico was not going to implement labor protections mandated by the new North American trade agreement. So Pelosi convened a small, private meeting, looked the two men in the eye, and said: “You have got to do this.” They backed down. That meeting marked a turning point in the yearlong quest to reach a compromise by thrusting labor demands into the forefront and unifying Democrats behind the cause.

► From The Hill — McConnell: Senate will not take up new NAFTA deal this year — “We will not be doing USMCA (this year) in the Senate,” he said. “They will have to come up in all likelihood after (an impeachment) trial is finished in the Senate.” The Senate was supposed to adjourn for the year by Dec. 13. They’ll now likely be in town through Dec. 20 because of the government funding deadline.

► From The Hill — Trump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field — Democrats running for president face a difficult decision on whether to embrace a revamped trade deal with Mexico and Canada that is backed by the AFL-CIO and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), but also represents a significant victory for  Trump. The deal seems likely to divide the Democratic field, with progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on one side and centrists such as former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on the other.




► In today’s Washington Post — Federal judge blocks Trump’s plan to build border wall using military funds — The permanent injunction casts new doubt on Trump’s ability to fulfill his pledge to erect 450 linear miles of fencing by the end of next year.

ALSO at The Stand — Trump’s border-wall military cuts hit home at Naval Base Kitsap (Sept. 5, 2019)

► From The Hill — Pelosi reaches deal with progressives to avert showdown over drug price bill — The deal with Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, will include two changes that progressives have been pushing for over the course of weeks.

► In the Seattle Times — Food-assistance cuts will hurt the vulnerable (editorial) — President Donald Trump is tightening the requirements to obtain minimal assistance to stave off hunger, reducing the number of people who are exempt from work requirements. In Washington state, it will make life harder for more than 75,000 18-to-49-year-olds who are expected to lose Washington’s Basic Food benefits with the change… The U.S. Department of Agriculture said this change will save $5.5 billion over five years. That calculation has an unjustifiable human cost in Washington… Depriving food from the needy is poor public policy. Those out-of-work must be provided nutritious food to stay in health to find and keep employment. Federal policy should reduce barriers to the workforce, not cruelly raise them. This shift must be reversed.

► In the NY Times — Trump wants to take from the poor and give to the wealthy (by ) — The administration’s food stamp cuts expose the cruel truth of Republican hypocrisy. Over the past year, as farmers throughout America were hit hard by Trump’s trade wars, the administration put together a $28 billion package that, according to some reports, could actually be overpaying some farmers for their losses. It seems hypocritical to demand that the poorest Americans pull themselves up by their bootstraps while covering the business risk of the nation’s wealthiest agribusinesses.




► In today’s Washington Post — The case for impeachment (editorial) — More than enough proof exists for the House to impeach Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, based on his own actions and the testimony of the 17 present and former administration officials who courageously appeared before the House Intelligence Committee… Trump should receive a full trial in the Senate, and it is our hope that more senior officials will decide or be required to testify during that proceeding, so that senators, and the country, can make a fair and considered judgment about whether Trump should be removed from office. We have reserved judgment on that question. What is important, for now, is that the House determine whether Trump’s actions constituted an abuse of power meriting his impeachment and trial.




► From The Stranger — What it’s like to work at Troutdale’s notoriously dangerous Amazon warehouse — Eleven seconds. That’s how much time workers at Troutdale’s (Ore.) Amazon Fulfillment Center have to pick up an item, scan it, and plop it into a designated cubby on one of the many towering yellow racks attached to Roomba-esque robots. If these employees, called “stowers,” can’t regularly hit this rate—around 3,000 items in a 10-hour shift — they’re fired. “It’s an inhumane rate of production,” says Dan Maloney, who worked as a stower when he was first hired at the Troutdale warehouse. “And it’s incredibly harsh on the human body.”

► From Vox — Amazon warehouse workers say they’re doing ‘back-breaking’ work without paid time off — Warehouse workers lifting hundreds of boxes a day say that they fear being fired for taking a day of unpaid time off.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Don’t live in fear. Stand up alongside your co-workers for what’s right! Find out more about how you can join together and negotiate a fair return for your hard work, including paid time off. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

► In today’s Washington Post — She was Instacart’s biggest cheerleader. Now she’s leading a worker revolt. — Vanessa Bain has turned from an Instacart evangelist into one of the most effective agitators against the company, in what has become a timely test of how much leverage blue-collar on-demand workers can amass to win better treatment from growth-obsessed technology companies that keep them at a distance. While continuing to work as a “shopper,” picking items from store shelves and delivering them to consumers, she has helped build a grass-roots movement that has led to four national boycotts, including one last month.

► In today’s Washington Post — Metro and its largest union reach surprise labor agreement that would avoid privatization — D.C.’s transit agency and its largest union (ATU) have tentatively agreed to a four-year labor contract that would allow the transit agency to give up its strategy of privatizing some operations to save money, the two sides said Tuesday.

► From Vox — Meet the women suing America’s biggest companies over equal pay — A spate of lawsuits against giants from Google and Twitter to Nike and Goldman Sachs reveals the growing frustrations of women in pursuit of the C-suite.




► From Eater — Food service is grueling work — so more and more workers are organizing — Food service work has often been derided, both from the outside and by those who participate in it, as short-term, unskilled labor. It’s for high school students on summer break, burnouts with no other prospects, or those who hope that, while this week they’re washing lettuce, next week it’ll be fries, and in two years they’ll be in a management position. Most of these stereotypes are just a dog whistle for making fun of the poor, but the image of food service work as temporary contributes to the feeling, even amongst people in the industry, that there’s no point in investing more energy (or union dues) than necessary… You don’t have to work in a restaurant or a grocery store to be a food worker now. Anyone who drives for Uber Eats or picks up groceries for Instacart can find themselves in the food industry, so its numbers are growing. Though the work is still often seen as a stepping stone to better, more permanent wages, some organizers are trying to use that as an advantage instead of an obstacle. “It kind of ends up cutting both ways. Part of turnover helps fuel action because people are willing to take some risks,” says Brennan. If workers are already planning on a fast exit, why not leave the industry a better place?

EDITOR’S NOTE — Food service workers! Find out more about how you can join together and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Contact a union organizer today!


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

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FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!